STENUNGSUND, Sweden – When Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NA3HL teams played Jack Stang, they could usually count on getting stung at some point. It might be with a flashy goal, a well-executed setup pass for an assist, or maybe just a blistering bodycheck.
Sweden’s Stenungsund Stingers are counting on Stang stinging a few of their opponents next season as well, signing the former Bulls standout to his first full professional contract late this past week, giving him a chance to suit up at Sweden’s Division 2 level. Division 2, or “Hockeytvaan,” is the fourth level of professional hockey in that nation, and the same level where Timothy Santopoalo made his pro debut for Svegs IK last season.
The Minnesota native made his pro debut in March with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Evansville Thunderbolts, signing an Amateur Try-Out contract in early March. He played two games for the ‘Bolts and was in line to play a third game for Evansville before the SPHL and other professional hockey seasons were shut down.
He earned that deal after a monster senior season at NCAA Division III St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, earning a spot on the MIAC all-conference team behind a career-high 27 points. His team-best 24 assists was the most for a St. Mary’s Cardinal in more than a decade, and he finished just one point behind younger brother Tommy for SMU’s scoring lead.
His junior career was impressive as well, playing a full season for the North American Hockey League’s Brookings Blizzard and another half-season in Florida before joining the Bulls in time to win back-to-back national titles in 2015 and 2016.
“Jack is a real playmaker,” said the Stingers’ Mikael Holt in a post on the Stingers’ Facebook page. “He has an awesome hockey eye and can find solutions to everything out on the ice. He is good at skating and has fine technique. In addition to these qualities, he is also good in the defensive game and has a hunger to get even better. Jack will make our powerplay and boxplay (penalty kill) better. We are very happy that Jack is continuing to develop with us.”
Stenungsund finished just 6-13-3 in Sodra A, the first portion of the Swedish Division 2 season, but nearly earned the only Hockeytvaan playoff spot out of the remaining group of eight teams. The Stingers and IF Molndal finished with identical records, but IF Molndal finished with more overtime points to earn the playoff spot.
11 former Bulls suited up in the pros this past season, in six different countries. Former Bull Kevin Lopatto has spent the past two seasons in Sweden’s Division 1, one step above Stenungsund on the Swedish pro hockey ladder.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Jack Stang on signing with the Stenungsund Stingers, and wish him the best as he moves to Sweden to continue his professional hockey career.