Defenseman Kaebel following FCA Hockey pipeline from Minnesota to Liberty
The FCA Hockey connection in Minnesota continues to reap promising recruits for Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team, as the Flames received a commitment from 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pound defenseman Lazarus “Laz” Kaebel, from Prior Lake, Minn., during last week’s Liberty Hockey Select Camp.
“He has been very involved in FCA hockey,” Liberty Head Coach Kirk Handy said. “He knows a lot of our guys, the Albers brothers (Nate and Zak), (Truett) Olson, (Nate) Cox, and (Jackson) Vercellono, and he will be another quality player coming from FCA Hockey.”
Kaebel has participated in FCA Hockey’s summer camps both as a camper and a clinician/counselor, working one with Flames senior defenseman and head captain Colin Baird, who he reconnected with at last week’s LU Select Camp.
“That was my first visit and it was a great experience,” said Kaebel, who is undecided on a major but considering studying business. “Kirk (Handy) is so nice and the coaching staff is unbelievable. It’s a great culture. Nate Albers and Cox were there and they skated with me and showed me around campus.”
A sizeable defenseman, he poses a formidable obstacle in the path of opposing forwards.
“I definitely like to use my body,” Kaebel said. “I can shoot the puck and make things happen in the offensive zone, but mostly I like to keep the puck on my stick and give it to the forwards.”
Kaebel started the 2021-22 season with the Twin City (Minn.) Thunder before joining the Philadelphia Hockey Club and scoring eight goals with six assists in 21 games.
“He is a solid defenseman who has an offensive side to his game, and he is a guy who is going to come in here and push the defense,” Handy said.
Kaebel spent the 2020-21 season in the USPHL Premier league on the same Tampa Bay Juniors team as Nate Albers and Olson, scoring 12 goals and distributing 19 assists in 43 games.
“During COVID, they were in Canada, and I invited them to the (USPHL Premier) league I was with and played with them a lot,” Kaebel said. “They committed to Liberty while they were in Tampa and have kind of recruited me ever since they’ve been there.”
He was introduced to hockey at the age of 2 and grew up playing on the frozen ponds around Prior Lake and skating with his dad, Butch, who formerly played professionally as a forward for the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen.
“He has taught me pretty much everything,” said Kaebel, who will turn 21 on Sunday.
He played one year of football and some golf in high school, but hockey has always been his first love and primary sport.
Kaebel is looking forward to transitioning from the Juniors ranks to the ACHA.
“I’ve seen a little bit of it and it looks like a really good league, with a lot of hitting and fast-paced action,” he said. “I’m excited.”
He is especially looking forward to being on a team where he will be surrounded by players of like faith.
“I have never been on a team that has had a lot of Christians,” Kaebel said. “But a lot of people I have played with ask me questions and for advice and I am open to share with them and love letting people know about God’s Word. Iron sharpens iron, so I am excited to be around all of the guys and trying to grow in my faith.”
He is spending his summer developing his skating and stick skills.
“My dad is a skills and skating coach, and I am following what my Dad does, because he’s been through this stuff before,” Kaebel said. “He and his two brothers work out like crazy in the gym. I skate with him a few hours a day, six to seven days a week. I also work out six days per week, trying to get up to 215 pounds this summer, and sprint (off-ice) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, to get some more speed and get ready for college hockey.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media