Yet most fans are unaware that the man who will dive in front of any puck is also gifted in the art of magic tricks.
The native of Stillwater, Minnesota first became interested in magic while playing hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school. “When I was at Shattuck, I started getting into magic,” said Saccoman. “We had a magician come to our school and I was just amazed at how he did certain things. Ever since, I have had a respect for the art.”
While he has kept his teammates entertained with magic tricks on road trips, they are not the only people in Sault Ste. Marie to have witnessed his sleight of hand. Last April, the defenseman volunteered for an event sponsored by the Diane Peppler Resource Centre (DPRC).
“They put on a ‘Dolly and Me High Tea’ event…they asked me to come to the event and do some tricks for all the little girls who were there with their dolls,” remarked Saccoman. “I love how the kids smile, at just the simplest of card tricks, like changing colors, and seeing the amazement in their eyes is so great.”
According to Jessica Miles, violence prevention educator at the DPRC, Dolly and Me High Tea is “an annual event where children (boys and girls) are encouraged to bring their favorite stuffed animal, action figure, or doll to have a tea party. Children get to dress up, get professional pictures taken with their parents, have tea or juice, cookies and treats, put in for raffle prizes, participate in craft activities and watch a street magician.”
“Collin was there last year preforming his street magic for the children and parents,” Miles added. “The children loved it so much that they were following him around all the rooms. He was so great that we have invited him to perform at our 40th Anniversary Gala this September.”
Originally a forward, Saccoman was encouraged to convert to defense when playing for the Minnesota Machine and coach Bernie McBain.
“I was originally a forward growing up, but when I got into the Minnesota Machine, Bernie McBain was my coach and he was the one who showed me the ropes and taught me the fundamentals that I use today,” Saccoman said. “I still remember his advice and all the little nuances he taught me.”
As a converted forward, it should come as little surprise that Saccoman has made his mark on the score sheet. As of Feb. 12, Saccoman led all Western Collegiate Hockey Association defenseman in goals scored (9). His nine goals are the most for a Laker defenseman since Kevin Czuczman potted 10 in the 2013-14 season. In addition, Saccoman has also tallied nine assists for a total of 19 points.
As already stated, one of the most noticeable aspects of Saccoman’s game is his willingness to block shots. The defenseman garnered much attention during his freshman campaign when his 94 blocks placed him at fourth in the nation.
An injury saw a decline in blocks last season, but his 3.00 blocks per game was the best mark in all of Division I. As of Feb. 12, Saccoman ranked fourth in the nation in blocked shots this season with 74.
On what encourages him to go down for so many blocks, Saccoman said “part of the game requires sacrifice and whatever we can do to help our goalies, we do… McBain taught me the correct way to block a shot in that you protect yourself but still make yourself big.”
The risk of injury has not hindered his resolve. In the Lakers’ home series against Alabama Huntsville on Jan. 11-12, a Friday night blocked shot left the defenseman sore enough to sit out the next night. Still, it was not the hardest shot he had ever taken.
“I remember in one game [in juniors], there was a big defenseman with a bomb of a slap shot,” Saccoman recalled. “Everybody else parted the way, but I went out and blocked it. I remember it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. I thought afterwards that if I can block that shot, I can block anything. I still have not felt one that bad, but I’m still looking for it.”
Majoring in criminal justice, Saccoman said he would eventually like to work in a federal department such as the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Marshalls. “There are many places you can go with a criminal justice degree and so it’s an open door.”
“I have a lot of friends back home who are in criminal justice, or work as EMT’s or firefighters” Saccoman said. “I have always been sort of drawn to that side of work.”
What makes Saccoman’s field intriguing to him is the social aspect and how to deal with different situations. “You can never prepare for every scenario you will encounter,” he said. “Figuring out how best to do your job, but have discretion and to work with different types of situations and to remain cool and professional in each one.”
A combination of factors helped him choose to attend Lake Superior State. While playing at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, he was recruited by former Lake Superior State assistant coach Rich Metro, who now coaches that school’s U16 team.
“I remember when I was at Shattuck St. Mary’s, Rich Metro came down and scouted me out. Damon Whitten saw a few games we played and I started talking to them. I Came for my visit, absolutely loved Lake State, and signed my [National Letter of Intent] here. Hockey is what originally drove me, and when I learned they had a criminal justice program – a really good one – it seemed like the place for me.”
While he certainly did not need magic to find himself at Lake State, Saccoman did get the chance to impress more than just the Lakers’ head coach with it.
“When I came to Lake State for a visit, I showed a couple tricks to coach Whitten and his son Joey,” Saccoman said. “That has always been a special moment for me.”
With one short bus trip to Northern Michigan (Feb. 22-23) remaining in the regular season, the WCHA’s premier shot blocker still has a chance to confound his teammates with three-card Monte. He may wind up with fewer opportunities than in years’ past since the Lakers are currently in position to host their first home playoff series since 2012-13, but one less road trip is worth it.
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About the Author
Mike Barrett is a frequent contributor to LSSULakers.com. He is a 2017 graduate of Lake Superior State University with a B.S. in Mathematics, as well as a 2011 graduate of North Central Michigan College, from whom he holds an A.S. In the past, he has contributed to the Sault Evening News, the LSSU Compass and U.S. College Hockey Online.com. When not writing, Mike can be found working as a math tutor at Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Michigan.
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