Being a high profile program, the University of North Dakota Hockey team has had some highly sought-after recruits decommit, and go the Major Junior route.
UND is not the only school to experience this problem. According to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, since 2011, 21 recruits from four high-profile college have changed their commitments, and gone the Major Junior route.
Since 2011, UND has had five high-end recruits decommit and go the Major Junior route. Last season, UND also had a player leave the program midway through his freshman season, and sign with a Western Hockey League team. These player decommits have caused the UND coaching staff a great deal of agony.
Breaking down UND’s decommitments
In August of 2011, J.T. Miller decommits from UND, and signs with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. Miller’s decommitment puts UND in a precarious situation. With Miller’s decommitment, UND became a different team. UND brings Connor Gaarder to UND as a walk-on to fill Miller’s roster spot.
In April of 2012, Miles Koules decommits from UND, and signs the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
November 2012, UND recruit Brendan Lemieux, son of former NHL forward Claude Lemieux, left the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Lemieux then decommits from UND, and signs with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
October 2013, Ryan Gropp decommits from UND and signs with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.
January 2014, UND freshman forward Adam Tambellini leaves midway through his freshman season, and signs with the Calgary Hitment of the WHL.
We’re not done yet!
UND recruit Christian Evers was drafted in the 5th round by the London Knights in the OHL Draft. UND fans should be a little worried, based on past experience. The London Knights are very good at convincing committed college recruits to play for them.
Evers is an impressive kid who is 6’4” and 200 pounds, and just turned 17 on May 25, 2014. One has to believe that the London Knights will be hard-after Christian Evers, to sign with them.
Last season, Evers had a decent year with the USNTDP Team, scoring (5g-12—17pts) in 72 games. Evers tweeted this on his twitter account on April, 6, 2014. So, I guess only time will tell.
This past week, UND recruit Ryan Mantha said, whichever team drafts him will determine whether he goes to UND or to the OHL. For the record, Mantha was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Division I college hockey is in direct competition for the high-end recruits with the Canadian Hockey League. We have known this for years. That’s the nature of the business. There’s really nothing college hockey teams can do to stop this. CHL teams openly recruit committed players even after they arrive on campus. When a division I hockey team recruits, and gets a commitment from a highly sought-after player, that’s when the stress begins. That college team can only hope that player actually makes it to campus.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.