October 4, 2022

The 2022 NHL Upstairs Draft will take place July 7-8 at the Bell Center in Montreal. Round 1 will be July 7 (7PM ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 on July 8 (11AM ET; NHLN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS). NHL.com counts down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts, and other features. Today, we examine the long-standing friendship between U.S. Hockey Team Development Program Team USA Under-18s striker Jimmy Snogerode and Chaska High School defensive tackle Sam Rinzel. Full NHL.com Draft coverage can be found over here.

Jimmy Singerode And the Sam Rinzel You may define their friendship a little differently than others.

Friends usually do not cut each other on the legs. They don’t (almost) break their wrists or leave shards of fiberglass in their necks.

But since they were 11 years old and playing at Breakaway Academy, private K-8s in Chaska, Minnesota, Snuggerud and Rinzel have competed on and off the ice and pushed each other to become first-round prospects for the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Snuggerud (6-foot-1, 188-pound), forward with the U.S. Under-18 Hockey Team Development Program team, is No. 11 in the The final NHL Central Scouting ranking of North American skaters. Rinzel (6-4, 180), a defenseman from Chaska High School (Minn.), is No. 19.

“It’s been a rather long journey and a blast to be with him and to experience all that with him as well,” Rinzel said.

Dave Snuggerud, Jimmy’s father, coached them at Breakaway and at Chaska High School, where they played together for one season before Jimmy left for the NTDP.

“They didn’t just go to school together and train during the day together, and then they played together on teams,” Dave said. “It wasn’t even mentioned that they weren’t overwhelmed. They loved hockey so much together. It made it a pleasure to train them. And also for me to teach them at school because I was their science teacher, too.”

“They just had a passion for the game and then they ended up being a passion for learning. And then it became a passion for being a good person and a character.”

Jimmy Singerode (left) and Sam Rinzel in the sixth grade math class at Breakaway Academy.

However, the competition on the ice sometimes gets out of hand.

“We had a fight, we must have been in the sixth grade,” Jimmy said. “We were playing at Breakaway and we had game day on Tuesday, and I gave him an absolute hack in his wrist, and he almost broke his wrist. He came out of the ice and we were fighting the rest of the day but the next day we made it up and we were fine.”

As far as Rinzel remembers his aching wrist, it was the fiberglass shard he sometimes had to pick up from his neck that sticks out.

“When he was younger, he would kind of use, maybe, a little bit half-broken sticks to play, and maybe cut your neck a little bit,” said Rinzel. “His stick comes flying and cuts your neck and you have a big black scar on your neck from all the fiberglass.”

Snuggerud said he never intentionally cut his neck for his friends. The sticks he used usually came from whatever Dave had lying around the garage from a professional career that included 265 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabers, San Jose Sharks, and Philadelphia Flyers.

“I’ve never really had the prettiest stick,” said the younger Snuggerud. “My dad gave me some kind of stick in the garage, and I didn’t need the gentler ones. It wasn’t meant to put graphite in their necks, but I was just going to use the stick and the graphite would fly out. … You didn’t necessarily hit them on the neck.”

The older Snuggerud said the competition extended to the ice, too.

“We have a game called Geography Challenge, and you have to go up on the world map and you have to point out either the major cities or the countries in the world,” Dave said. “And we did everything by playing in parentheses. And these two guys were always going to end up in the finals for the entirety of the whole fifth class or the whole sixth class, no matter what year they were in school, and just competing trying to point out the countries of the world and then We also do a chess course, they have to learn to play chess and now they are competitive in chess.

“They helped each other compete in chess, they helped each other compete in the classroom. Then it goes to the rink, being competitive.”

Sam Rinzel (right) and Jimmy Snuggerud (second from left) in a sixth-grade geography class at Breakaway Academy.

Snuggerud and Rinzel train together during the sabbatical, but Snuggerud felt the opportunity to play in the NTDP for the past two seasons was too good to be missed. This season he’s had 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 59 games, and his seven goals on the Power are second only to Logan Cooley, No.

“He’s got a universal shot,” said Adam Nightingale, who has coached the NTDP for the past two seasons. “She really takes off his wand and he’s able to shake it off quickly. I think he’s a driven, competitive kid who’s at a really high level. You only see him when he plays, he plays a lot of determination and competitiveness. He’s got a really good wand and he’s been our best player since the start of our two-year journey. He’s really worked out skating in the summer. He plays with more poise and that’s reflected in his play.”

Video: Project Prediction: The Best of Jimmy Snuggerud

Snuggerud will continue that growth next season at the University of Minnesota, following his father and grandfather, James Westby, on the program. And spending time with coach Bob Mutzko, rather than any influence from his father or grandfather, he said, made Minnesota his choice.

“They were the team I just wanted to play for, I wouldn’t say my whole life, but as soon as I went to campus and saw that the campus is right in the city and the arena is right there, right next to the residences, I think I kind of fell in love with it.”

He will be joined in 2023-24 by Rinzel, who finished Chasca’s junior season with 38 points (nine goals, 29 assists) in 27 games. He also earned 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 21 games with Waterloo of the American Hockey League.

NHL Central Scout Greg Rajanin compared Rinzel to St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Paraiko.

“A big guy, a fluid skater, he’s got some abuse at his game,” Rajanen said. “He needs to be a two-way player going forward.”

Tweet from NHLdotcom: NHLCentralScout’s Greg Rajanen joined the NHL Draft Class podcast to discuss some of the USHL’s best prospects. He had great praise for Sam Rinzel, comparing him to one of the best defensive men in the NHL. Apple: https://t.co/U9fwPIxWCvSpotify: https://t.co/kP4rTD9uv7 pic.twitter.com/xmrs96eauB

Renzel will play with Waterloo next season. Speeding up his schoolwork to graduate from high school and go to college in the fall wasn’t an option he had considered.

“I’m good at taking my time and being able to grow to where I want to be,” he said. “I can push myself very quickly and feel like I can develop very quickly. So I think getting in and spending another year in the USHL would benefit me a lot.”

In the end, Snuggerud and Rinzel will end up together in Minnesota, where their work on and off the ice will include fewer injuries and a better stick.

“I’ve been with him my whole life,” Snuggerud said. “It’s good to compete with him on the ice and be friends off the ice.”

Pictures: Waterloo/USHL (Renzel); Rena Lafferty / USA Hockey NTDP (Snuggerud); Snuggerud’s family

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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