Linhart happy to be closer to home, first player to sign with Iowa Heartlanders

Jake Linhart is the first player to sign with the ECHL's Iowa Heartlanders.
Jake Linhart is the first player to sign with the ECHL's Iowa Heartlanders.(Iowa Heartlanders)
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Two years ago, cancer put a pause on defenseman Jake Linhart’s hockey career. Now, entering his third season in the ECHL, he’s back on the ice with the Iowa Heartlanders. His main reason for joining the team in Coralville is to be close to family.

“Don’t take anything for granted. There are other things more important outside hockey,” Linhart said. “That’s what I’ve learned from it. Family is the most important thing to have.”

After overcoming testicular cancer two years ago, being close to home was important for Linhart.

“It’s not only a physical battle, it’s a mental battle,” he said.

That’s because the Brookfield, Wisconsin native isn’t the only one in his family battling something.

“My sister went through a little scare herself and then my mom is actually in the middle of something right now. She had breast cancer about 8, 9 years ago and then it ended up coming back this past year,” he added.

Linhart played junior hockey with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and spent four years at the University of Wisconsin. On Wednesday, he became the Heartlanders’ first official player to sign with the team.

“I’ve already met and talked to so many people in the organization. everything seems amazing,” said Linhart, “It’s super exciting to be the first player announced in the program’s history. I just want to do my part and build something.”

Linhart spent the past two seasons skating with Adirondack Thunder which are based in New York. During the 2019-2020 season, he tallied five goals and 18 assists in 51 games. He said the location helped convince him to join the team ahead of their inaugural season and feels this moved helps him balance his professional and personal life.

“I’m just excited to play a game again, to compete. I just hope I can be a part of something special,” he said.

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