Maverick hockey’s bus driver and son duo’s treacherous journey to the Frozen Four

Among the many Minnesota State fans attending the Frozen Four in Boston this week, Brian Wachtel and his son Connor’s journey to this moment has been nothing short of impressive. And while many know him as Brian, a few have been fortunate to be able to call him their bus driver too. 

Brian started working as a school bus driver earlier in his career before joining the Maverick hockey team as their team bus driver. After about six months of driving for the schools, Brian was asked if he’d be interested in driving motor coach buses.

A couple weeks later, Brian was asked if he could drive for the Gustavus women’s hockey team one weekend. Brian quickly turned the idea down because he had to stay and watch Connor. 

The owner of the motor coach company was quick to tell Brian to take Connor with him on the bus, and Brian agreed. After a memorable first motor coach drive, Brian was offered to drive the Maverick hockey team up to Grand Forks, N.D. the next weekend. “That’s how fast I fell into it,” said Brian. 

A short time later, Brian found himself being switched around with other bus drivers for the MSU hockey team. One trip to Bemidji Brian remembered specifically, as it was the trip where he locked in his position as team bus driver. 

“I remember coming out of a hotel and coach Jutting asked me how I slept,” said Brian. “I said good, but I’m upset that I’m not taking you to Omaha next week. As I was walking away, he looked at me and said, ‘It will never happen again.’”

And Jutting fulfilled his promise, making a phone call that made Brian the team bus driver still to this day. And while many diehard MSU fans like to say they haven’t missed a game, Brian is one that has the history to prove it. “I don’t let any other bus driver have a chance,” Brian said. “Under Coach Hastings, you feel like you’re a part of the team. The team treats me really well.”

Brian’s son Connor is a familiar face around Maverick Athletics as well. The graduate student has worked for the past six years as an athletic communications assistant in the athletic office under Paul Allen (PA). Post-graduation, Connor hopes to continue working in the communications/public relations field but is unsure whether it will be for hockey or baseball.

Brian (left) and Connor have shared the love for Maverick hockey for as long as they’ve been together.

But Connor’s familiarity with the Mavericks began long before beginning school at the university. 

“Connor was born in July, and I started carrying him to games in October,” Brian said. “Parents around us would comment how he paid attention to the game and never screwed around.” 

Their long, continuing history with Maverick athletics has led them to their first Frozen Four, where they will be going as fans rather than to work. “I have credentials to this and I told PA thanks for getting them,” said Connor. “But I decided to go solo and bought tickets because this is a good ending to the whole school thing.”

“I’ve wanted to go to the Frozen Four forever,” Brian said. “We thought we would be out here for a Twins game before anything else. But I have a good feeling, and being able to share it with my wife and son is pretty special. We’re pumped.”

Header Photo by Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter.

Write to Karson Buelow at karson.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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