Published April 16, 2010
Here's all you need to know about Cretin-Derham Hall defenseman Mark Alt -- not even a broken collarbone can slow down the 6-foot-3, 199-pound senior.
Alt suffered a cracked collarbone in his left (non-throwing) shoulder twice during a four-week span during the football season this past fall. The second time occurred in the third quarter of the Class 5A state football championship game Nov. 27.
"There was so much adrenaline going through my body during the game, I really didn't even think about it," Alt, the team's starting quarterback, told NHL.com.
Alt completed 10 of 19 passes for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and he kicked the game-clinching 27-yard field goal en route to leading Cretin-Derham Hall to a 16-5 victory against Eden Prairie and its first state title since 1999, when Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer was the quarterback.
"It wasn't until the end of the game when I realized I'd miss the first few weeks of the hockey season and that was really hard," Alt said. "I wanted to play hockey so bad."
Instead of following in the footsteps of his father, John, an All-Pro offensive lineman with the Kansas City Chiefs for 13 seasons, Mark has decided to take his show on the ice. In the process, he passed on a scholarship to play football at his father's alma mater, Iowa, and instead will attend the University of Minnesota to play hockey.
"People have been expecting me to play football because of my dad," Alt said, "but hockey was just always my kind of my thing. The fact I've taken it this far and now have an opportunity to be drafted is a pretty big accomplishment. My dad actually agreed with my decision; we talked about it for a long time. He was a huge football player and my football coach, but we sat down and talked about it. He knew the opportunities I had in hockey and that that was the thing to do."
After years of learning the gridiron from dad, now it's Mark's turn to teach his mentor the art of the frozen floor. It's something he's looking forward to.
"Dad has skates, but I think I've only seen him on them twice," Alt said of his father, who played in the NFL at 6-foot-8 and 307 pounds. "He's not bad, he can actually get around, but I taught him everything he knows."
After sitting out the season's first six weeks while rehabilitating his shoulder, Alt had 6 goals, 14 points and a plus-3 rating over the final 22 games of the season for Cretin-Derham (19-8-0). He was a finalist for the coveted Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, given to the state's outstanding senior high school hockey player. He's the top-rated scholastic defenseman, fourth-best scholastic skater and No. 37 overall on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2010 Entry Draft.
"He's got great speed and we let him go because he likes to cover a lot of ground," Cretin-Derham coach Jim O'Neill said of his captain. "When you watch him, you notice him because he's big and loves to skate. It's not like he stays at home and does one thing. He's physical and can shoot well. His size and skating ability are what catches your eye."
The last big name to come out of Cretin-Derham was defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was named Mr. Hockey in 2007 and was drafted No. 12 by the Montreal Canadiens in that June's draft. McDonagh, currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin, was dealt to the New York Rangers last summer as part of the Scott Gomez trade.
"Ryan was a shut-down defenseman; Mark is more open as far as his play, which is the way the game is going now," O'Neill said. "He's a very likable player and he has a little goofy side to him because he likes to keep the guys loose. He doesn't take himself overly seriously but is very competitive."
"The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Mark is raw talent," said Central Scouting's Jack Barzee, who specializes in U.S.-based prospects. "There's an untapped area there. He's got a good shot and is aggressive -- he's the type of colt I want to ride if I were a coach. There's been some talk about his defensive coverage, but I think now that he's focusing on one sport, that'll definitely change."
Alt is ecstatic to be thought of so highly by the NHL's scouting bureau.
"I didn't really think about it but I knew it was my draft year," Alt said. "I didn't think I'd ever be that high -- it's a pretty big honor. I know I have to get into the weight room and gain some muscle to get my strength up."
O'Neill feels college hockey only will enhance Alt's game.
"His potential is huge," O'Neill said. "He hasn't really concentrated on hockey -- he's been a five-months-out-the-year hockey player to this point because he's played football for fourth months. With his size and skating ability, he's a very intriguing player to a lot of teams.
"He's just going to have to learn more about the defensive side. He's coachable and smart, so he'll learn those things over time."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org