St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame

 

 

 

 

 

Bio

Mike Robben was introduced to the game of hockey by his neighbor Mark Kleppe, a native of Minnesota.  Mark, Mike and a number of other neighbors would play roller hockey in Mark's basement, always imagining they were playing the Minnesota North Stars against the St. Louis Blues.  When the weather was right, the game would move to the iced over ponds.  Mike's parents saw how much he loved the game and when Creve Coeur opened their ice arena (an outdoor facility at the time); they signed him up for the Creve Coeur hockey program.  

Mike played for Creve Coeur until the 1974-75 season when he joined the Missouri Delta program coached by Chuck Weyerhaeuser.  That Delta team was very successful.  Many of his teammates from Delta would continue playing hockey together at DeSmet for Ron Bick (1974-75) and Dave Schneider (1975-78).  During that time, DeSmet won two Mid-States championships (1976 and 1978).  Near the end of that 74-75 season with Delta, Mike, age 15 and probably 5'6" and 140 lbs., was asked to skate the remainder of the Jr. B season with the St. Louis Chiefs, coached by Don Gibbs.  

After the Jr. B season was over, Mike went into the Jr. B draft and was the first overall pick, joining the Chiefs.  David Bates (HOF2008) was his coach that season for the Chiefs.  The following season, the Chiefs were disbanded and Mike played the next two seasons for the Castle Oaks Comets coached by Rick Kennedy (HOF 2010).  Mike was always one of the smaller guys on his teams, if not the smallest.  He overcame the size challenge and limitation through his association with Castle Oaks Ice Rink.  He worked at the rink throughout his high school years and was one of the ice hockey instructors for their summer hockey camps, run by Tony Ott.  Mike would frequently stay late at the rink, skating with the lights dimmed, practicing his skating and stickhandling skills.  He was also very fortunate to be asked by Tony Ott to join him in the summer of 1977 to be a hockey instructor at various camps across Finland.  This Castle Oaks experience greatly enhanced his skating ability and puck handling skills, allowing him to be recognized as a talented hockey player.

During the 1970's, St. Louis University hockey coach Bill Selman (HOF 2014) had created a nationally recognized Division 1 hockey program.   His program motivated many St. Louis hockey players to work hard with the goal of playing college hockey.  Mike was no different and after graduating from DeSmet in 1978, he went to The Hill School in Pottstown, PA for a post graduate year and played for Tom Eccleston. Coach Eccleston had previously coached Providence College for 8 years, and was recognized as the NCAA Division 1 coach of the year in 1963-64.  The Hill School experience allowed Mike to be exposed to college hockey recruiters.  He ultimately was recruited by Holy Cross College, playing 4 years on the varsity for Peter Van Buskirk.  While at Holy Cross, Mike ended up with 49 goals, 75 assists for 124 points in 125 games.   He missed only 1 game over those 4 years, and had the privilege of being a co-captain of the Holy Cross team his senior year.

Mike is very proud that other St. Louis players soon chose Holy Cross to continue their hockey careers.  Joe Lunny, who skated at Chaminade, joined Mike at Holy Cross during Mike's senior year.  Joe went on to be Holy Cross's all time points leader, a record he still owns today, and Joe was inducted into the Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.  In addition, Nick Genovese, from DeSmet, played at Holy Cross and was co-captain his senior year of 1989-1990.  Mike would like to think he played part in Joe's and Nick's decision to choose Holy Cross, and he played a part in the Holy Cross coaches' decision to welcome more St. Louis players.

In 1984, Mike married his wife Judy.  They have 3 children, Mike Jr., Liz (Cadwallader) and Kevin, a son-in-law Kyle Cadwallader, and granddaughter Ella Cadwallader.  Mike continues to keep hockey a big part of his life. After coaching over 20 years, refereeing over 6 years, and participating as a youth board director for 3 years, he still plays hockey twice a week in Kansas City.  During his many visits back to St. Louis, Mike also plays as a visiting player with a Friday Morning Hockey group.