ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The thing that pops at people when they watch Reid Bogenholm play hockey is his feet.

"Reid has phenomenal skating ability," said Derrick Brown, Bogenholm's head coach on the St. Cloud Cathedral boys hockey team. "Since we brought him up to varsity as a freshman, he's always been able to play at a high pace.

"We've really watched him develop all parts of his game. He's really getting pucks through more consistently and been a catalyst for us on the penalty kill and power plays in the last 2-3 years."

Bogenholm's skating ability caught the eyes of several NCAA Division I men's hockey coaching staffs. On Monday, June 24, Bogenholm sent out a declaration of his commitment to play hockey for the Air Force Academy on Twitter.

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He is the third player from the senior-to-be class for the Crusaders, the defending Minnesota Class A state champion, to make a commitment to a Division I program. Forwards Jack Smith (Minnesota Duluth) and Nate Warner (Minnesota) have previously committed to colleges.

So why Air Force?

"Ever since I was a young kid, I wanted to serve in the military," he said. "Going to Air Force will allow me to play hockey and do what I want to do.

"You get a great education with an Air Force degree. They make it to the NCAA tournament almost every year. There wasn't a better place for me to go than Air Force."

Bogenholm said that he has been talking with Falcons head coach Frank Serratore and his staff for the last two years.

"Their coaching staff gives an element that not a lot of other coaching staffs do where they look at the team more as a family," Bogenholm said. "Once you're in there, it's like a really close-knit, tight family and I like that. I really believe that's the best coaching staff in hockey."

Brown was not surprised that Bogenholm chose Air Force.

"Reid had a lot of different options," Brown said. "Air Force has always been in his top three ever since I've known him. The Academy is a lifestyle and it really suited some of the things he was looking for outside of hockey. It's a really good fit for Reid.

"He's a really hard-working, dedicated kid. He takes direction very well and is very respectful and is really dedicated to improving his craft and is dedicated to hockey."

Offensive-minded

Bogenholm, who is 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds, was Cathedral's top-scoring defenseman and was third on the team in assists (21) and fourth on the team in points (29) in 25 regular season games. In his three varsity seasons, he has 20 goals and 44 assists in 89 games.

"I'm a really good skating defenseman, more of an offensive defenseman, but I don't get beat (defensively)," Bogenholm said. "I like to jump up in the play and get involved in the offense."

Most players are working on getting better in facets of their game. Brown said that he has three areas of focus for Bogenholm for the coming season.

"He needs to continue to work on strength and he does that," Brown said. "We'll continue to harp on him about decision making, making the right play at the right time. He's got the gift of skating, but it's about when to go and when not to go to get him to be even more effective. If he can manage that, he'll be on the ice even more because he covers so much ice with so little effort.

"The third thing is that we need to him and the other seniors to step up into leadership roles. There's going to be a big target on our back and they're all coming back with the same goal. Every night, we're going to be getting everybody's best game (as defending state champions). We need him to be one of our really good leaders because we have a really tough schedule."

Cathedral plays an independent schedule that is typically one of the toughest in the state. Last regular season, for instance, the Crusaders played four teams (Delano, East Grand Forks, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin and Mahtomedi) that made the Class A state tournament and Moorhead, which made the Class AA state tournament.

Cathedral also played 2018 Class A state tournament participants Alexandria, Hermantown, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, Mankato East, Monticello and Thief River Falls during the 2018-19 regular season.

Turning down juniors

Bogenholm is a Phase II draft pick of the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. He recently was at camp with the junior hockey team, but plans to return for his senior season with the Crusaders.

"Obviously, there's pros and cons for both," he said of playing high school or junior hockey. "But I want one more crack at it with my best buds that I've been playing with for a while. We've got one more shot left to win a state championship and I don't want to pass that up."

Bogenholm is not alone in returning for his senior season. Brown said that all of the seniors-to-be on the Crusaders roster have told him that they plan to return to defend their title.

"Everybody inside that locker room has a belief in each other and love each other so much that we all want one more year to play with our buddies and win a championship," Bogenholm said. "We're all in the same boat and we don't want to pass this up."

Bogenholm said he plans to play two years of junior hockey in the USHL before going to Air Force, where he plans on majoring in business and getting a law enforcement degree.