Although Luc Snuggerud may not have spent four years in an Omaha sweater, the Minnesota native and member of the 2015 Frozen Four team still finds himself amongst the top producing defensemen in program history.
A 2014 fifth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, Snuggerud opted to sign with the Blackhawks following his junior year in Omaha, forgoing his senior season with the Mavericks.
In 113 career games, Snuggerud finished with 17 goals and 48 assists. Those 65 points put him in the top five for all-time scoring by Maverick defensemen. His best season came as a junior, as the defenseman skated in 39 games and recorded 31 of his 65 career points. Snuggerud scored a career-high 11 goals and 20 assists and he was named Second Team NCHC All-Conference following that season.
Snuggerud played 13 games with the Rockford Icehogs (AHL) following the end of that 2016-17 season in Omaha. He went on to spend parts of the next two seasons with Rockford, but injuries and concussions cut his time with the Blackhawks short. He only appeared in 57 games within the Blackhawks organization.
Since being released in February of 2019, Snuggerud has only appeared in eight more AHL games. However, he’s ventured across the pond, which is where he’s currently playing now.
The Gateway recently caught up with Snuggerud for a Q&A to reflect on his time in Omaha and talk about playing with Rytiri Kladno in the Czech Republic.
Q: What do you miss the most about playing in Omaha?
A: Playing at Baxter Arena. My freshman year we were at the CenturyLink Center, which was a fun place to play. We’d get some big crowds, but for the most part, it was such a big rink that we’d maybe fill it up halfway. When we moved to Baxter though, the atmosphere was unbelievable. The fans were as good as it gets and it felt like every home game was our home. It was a really special place to play and playing there is definitely something I’ll never forget.
Q: This is your third different stint playing overseas… How big of an adjustment was it initially, and what has that experience been like for you?
A: First time it was a bit different, but it’s kind of something I’ve gotten used to and I’ve fallen in love with it honestly. The lifestyle is different, the hockey is different, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve met a lot of new people and I’ve been forced to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve also been able to learn a lot about different cultures, so it’s been pretty cool and I’ve gotten used to it now.
Q: You signed with Rytiri Kladno in the Czech Republic on Jan. 26, what has the start of this season been like for you?
A: This year was a bit of a grind because the offseason was so long and uncertain, and for myself, I didn’t know where I was going to end up playing. There were some long months training and it got repetitive, but now that I’m back playing again it’s been awesome. I’ve got six games under my belt so far, but it’s just been good to get out and compete against other guys again and play games.
Q: What are the COVID restrictions like in the Czech Republic? Has it changed your routine at the rink at all?
A: It’s pretty strict over here right now. There is a curfew at 9:00 p.m. and the country is pretty much in a lockdown. Everything is closed except for takeout food from restaurants. As far as the rink goes though, it’s pretty easy going. We get tested quite frequently, but we actually don’t have to wear masks around the rink or on the ice. So as far as my routine goes at the rink, it’s really not that different. The only real differences are taking the COVID tests and not having fans in the stands.
Outside of the rink, it’s the same, if not worse than it is back in the United States though. Americans aren’t even allowed to enter the Czech Republic unless you have a special exemption from the government or a work visa, which I do for playing hockey. I live about 15 minutes outside of Prague, so I’ve been able to take advantage of not having a lot of tourists here and check out the city a little bit too which I’ve enjoyed.
Q: What is it like playing with Jaromir Jagr?
A: It’s crazy. That guy is an absolute NHL legend and he’s one of the best to ever play. Before I came over here I never realized how big of a guy he is, and he’s just constantly working. He just turned 49, but he’s still a workhorse, and it’s not a surprise he’s still going. He still skates a couple times a day, he wears his weighted vest, ankle weights, and he’s just a machine.
He’s a great guy too and it’s been really cool to see. It’s definitely opened my eyes with how hard he still works and to see how much he loves playing.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Pod concept?
A: I thought that was extremely creative. I know if I was still in school I would’ve been in the same position and would’ve wanted to do whatever it took to play. For them to pull that off is a testament to the NCHC, and Omaha of course for hosting it. It was a good way to get all of those teams there and be able to play games during these times, and the Mavs played well too.
Q: It’s probably crazy to think it’s been almost six years, but what was your biggest takeaway from that run to the Frozen Four in Boston?
A: That whole run was just special. The guys were special, the coaching staff was special, and there was just something special about everything in Omaha that season. It was definitely a special time to be a part of the program, and even though we didn’t win it all like we’d hoped, we still made a ton of memories that year. Those were some of the best times of my life and I cherished it, but I didn’t realize how fast it would go by.
Q: Do you still follow what’s happening in Omaha on the ice much?
A: Yeah. I’ve been following along over here on Twitter and Instagram whenever I can and it’s been great to see the success that they’re having. Gabs (Mike Gabinet) is a great coach and he knows what he’s doing, so it was only a matter of time before he really put together a talented and successful team like he’s doing this year. That’s not to take credit away from any of the previous teams the past few years, because they’ve been good in their own ways, but I think you’re really seeing it this year. They are one of the best teams in the NCHC and the country right now.
Q: What’s the thing you miss the most about Omaha?
A: I know it sounds cliche, but the relationships I made with the guys. I met some life-long friends while I was in Omaha, and there are several guys I still talk to all the time today and see in the summers. It’s a special place to play, you meet a lot of special people, and I had a lot of fun in my time there.
Snuggerud is one of several former Mavs who have been busy recently.
Megna only spent one season in Omaha, but he made quite the impact in his freshman year. Megna finished the 2011-12 season with 13 goals and 31 points, which puts him twelfth in program history for points per game. Megna was recently added to the Colorado Avalanche roster on Feb. 12 and appeared in two games. He fired two shots on goal in them. The Avalanche lost 1-0, and picked up a 3-2 victory in the two respective games against the Vegas Golden Knights. Megna was reassigned to the Colorado taxi squad on Feb. 18.
The younger brother of the above-mentioned Megna, Jaycob is four games into this season with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season, a team that he is also the captain of. Megna has registered one assist in those four games and has a +2 plus/minus. Before the remainder of the AHL season was canceled in March, the defenseman had skated in 60 games with the Chicago Wolves. He finished with 3-7-10 and a +12 plus/minus.
One of the most dynamic players in program history, Archibald has gone to have one of the best NHL careers amongst former Mavericks. The speedy winger has played in 19 games with the Edmonton Oilers this season and has three goals and two assists. The Oilers are 11-8-0 with 22 points, which puts them second in the NHL’s North Division.
The former Omaha captain and four-year defenseman notched his first professional goal with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL) on Feb. 19. Stewart has scored a goal and four assists in 11 games with the Thunder this season.
A member of last year’s Omaha roster, Pulkkinen returned to the Jukurit (Liiga) lineup on Feb. 10 after missing time with an injury. Pulkkinen has appeared in 30 games this season back in his home country of Finland. He has scored four goals and added five assists.