Bringing in a bull: Hard-charging Jack Giddings chooses Finlandia

Provided photo Anoka’s Jack Giddings celebrates one of his two huge goals against Maple Grove in the 2016 Section 2A Minnesota High School Finals.

ANOKA, Minnesota — North Iowa Bull and former Anoka High School product Jack Giddings is the latest in a number of key signings for the Finlandia men’s hockey program. The Lions have recently added a talented defenseman and two highly-skilled snipers. Now they have added a 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., Minnesota-bred power forward.

Finlandia head coach Joe Burcar is excited about Giddings.

“Any time you can add a big, strong player who also has big-time speed you feel fortunate,” he said.

This past season, the Lions have worked to develop a recruiting network that includes James Randell, brother of Lions winger Ted Randell, who scouts the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. James identified Giddings at a Bowman Showcase this spring and asked assistant coach Micah Stipech to take a look also.

“He (Giddings) passes the look test for sure,” said Stipech. “The first time I saw him I, of course, noticed his skating. When I started watching him away from the puck is when I really got on board. Every time I’ve watched him, I like him more.”

The Lions often struggled on the wall last season. Adding a strong winger like Giddings, who excels at strong plays in danger zones and can also keep pace with the way the Lions want to play, is a major upgrade.

“In my opinion, He’s a dead ringer for J.T. Miller (of the Tampa Bay Lighting),” said Stipech. “He’s the same height, weight, and position, and he plays the same style. He’s a strong, powerful skater who uses his speed both offensively and defensively.

“He flies down the wing and releases heavy wristers. He is a hard charger who can overpower opponents and win foot races.”

Giddings is aware of how he can contribute to the Lions.

“My role on the team will be a power forward,” Giddings said. “I feel that I’m a big, fast player that plays tough and wears down the other team and buries the puck when I get the chance. I also feel that I play very responsible in the ‘D’ (defensive) zone and get the puck out consistently.”

Giddings was a big part of an Anoka team who made it to the big stage of the Xcel Energy Center in the 2016 Minnesota State Tournament. They upset highly-seeded Centennial in the section semifinal. In the final, Giddings led the way to victory over Maple Grove with two huge goals, the second of which tied the game. The following season, Giddings was named team captain.

After graduation, Giddings decided to attend the University of North Dakota (UND) and leave his hockey bag at home.

“Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to be a pilot and UND was a great school for it. But after a year of school, all I could think of was how much I missed hockey and eventually I made the choice to go back and play,” said Giddings. “And I’m so happy I did.”

Giddings found his way onto the roster of coach Todd Sanden’s North Iowa Bulls. Giddings was a potent addition to a North Iowa team that is a perennial powerhouse atop the North American 3 Hockey League.

“Jack Giddings is a player who can add energy with his speed and physical play,” Sanden said. “He can add scoring with the way he can shoot the puck. Jack understands that being a responsible hard working player gets more results individually and for the team.”

Giddings says he chose Finlandia, “because I love hunting and fishing up north and Finlandia is the perfect place to do it. It’s a beautiful campus in a great location.”

Giddings says he plans to study business and hopefully open up his own place someday.