Wolanin commits to UND

UND bolstered its defensive corps for next season by picking up a commitment from Christian Wolanin of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Wolanin announced the commitment via his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound defenseman is 19 years old and will be able to come in next season in case UND has some early NHL signings. This season, Wolanin has 4 points in 7 games for the Lumberjacks.

Christian is the son of longtime NHLer Craig Wolanin, who played for the New Jersey Devils, Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Other possible arrivals on UND’s campus next year on D are Christian Evers, Hayden Shaw and Danys Chartrand. UND will for sure lose Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella and will likely lose Jordan Schmaltz. Paul LaDue is another one to watch.

Yon commits to UND

On football’s National Signing Day, UND picked up another hockey recruit.

Roseau senior forward Zach Yon announced his commitment on Twitter.

Yon, who also was named a Mr. Hockey finalist on Wednesday as well, has 29 goals and 59 points in 22 games for the Rams this season.

Yon’s father, Bill, played college hockey at Minnesota in the early 1980s.

More to come on Yon’s commitment.

Simonson commits to UND

Former Grand Forks Central standout John Simonson has committed to UND.

Simonson, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward, currently is leading the Lincoln Stars in scoring with 10 goals and 18 points in 24 games. He also serves as the team captain.

Simonson is the fourth member of the 2010 state title Central team to go D-I, the third to go to UND. Current UND rookies Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson also were on that squad, as was Northern Michigan freshman Casey Purpur.

John’s brother, Alex, currently is a senior forward for Nebraska Omaha.

More to come on Simonson’s commitment.

UND will have quite a local flavor in the coming years.

Local players/commits

Grand Forks Central — John Simonson, 2014
Grand Forks Central — Paul LaDue, freshman
Grand Forks Central — Luke Johnson, freshman
East Grand Forks — Tucker Poolman, 2014
East Grand Forks — Gage Ausmus, freshman
Devils Lake — Keaton Thompson, freshman
Thief River Falls — Zane Gothberg, sophomore

Winnipeg D-man commits to UND

Winnipeg defenseman Danys Chartrand, who plays for the Flin Flon Bombers in the SJHL, has committed to UND for 2015-16, according to a release by the team.

Chartrand, who stands at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, is 19 years old and has registered a goal and four assists in 14 games this season. He is described as a defensive defenseman by the team.

“We are extremely excited for Danys,” Flin Flon coach and general manager Mike Reagan said.  “To have a guy commit to a program like that shows how valuable of a player he really is, Danys had a great showcase weekend and had a lot of interest from a lot of schools.”

Chartrand said: “I’m really excited and I’m very happy with this opportunity.”

I’ll try to get more on Chartrand later, but Flin Flon has games scheduled tonight and tomorrow night, so it may have to wait until early next week.

Podcast: Breaking down recruiting classes

Decided to try something new this season. As part of a preview, I teamed up with Bucky’s Fifth Quarter writer and Muskegon Lumberjacks scout Andy Johnson to break down the recruiting classes of the Big Ten and NCHC teams.

We try to give some scouting reports on players and talk about which recruits may make the biggest impact this season.

Hopefully, it turned out OK. It’s about 54 minutes long. If you like it, I may try to do some more podcasting type stuff. If it’s too long and too hard to listen to, I will stick to the writing.

Trevor Olson commits to UND

UND has received a verbal commitment from a 6-foot-2 power forward from Duluth.

Trevor Olson, who played at Duluth East and is now with Sioux City in the USHL, is expected to come to UND in the fall of 2014.

In his first season in the USHL, Olson tallied 16 points in 31 games for Green Bay before Sioux City coach Brett Larson (of Duluth) traded for him. Since joining Sioux City, Olson has 30 points in 30 games.

“He’s a big power forward,” Larson said. “He brings a physical element to the game, but he can also make plays. He’s kind of like a pro-style power forward.”

Larson said that most schools didn’t start recruiting Olson until this year as he sustained an injury during his senior year of high school.

“He was recruited by the top schools in the country,” Larson said. “So, North Dakota did a good job.”

Olson said he chose UND over Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and UMass-Lowell.

Stecher named BCHL D-man of the year

UND’s most recent recruit just received a top honor from the BCHL.

Troy Stecher was named the defenseman of the year for the Interior Conference. Stecher, the team captain, tallied 47 points in 52 games for the Penticton Vees.

Stecher is expected to come to UND next season.

The Vees, who also feature UND recruit Wade Murphy, are about to start the BCHL playoffs. They open against Salmon Arm in a best-of-seven series on Friday.

Gardner commits to UND

UND has received a verbal commitment from Rhett Gardner, a 6-foot-2 forward from Moose Jaw, Sask.

Gardner is currently playing for the Moose Jaw Generals, a AAA team in his hometown. The Generals have played in The Ralph’s AAA showcase tournament each of the last two years.

“He skates extremely well,” Generals coach Ray Wareham said. “He has some pretty good offensive upside. He does all the little things well in his own end. I’d say he’s a complete player.”

Gardner originally was a second-round WHL pick of Spokane, but Spokane traded him at the deadline last week to Brandon.

“He wanted to weigh his options,” Wareham said. “This one opened up and he’s pretty happy to be part of the University of North Dakota.”

Gardner, the captain of the Generals, recently played in the World Under-17 tournament in Quebec. Gardner had two goals in five games at the event.

UND likely to lose Lemieux

UND is likely to lose forward recruit Brendan Lemieux to the Barrie Colts of the OHL.

Lemieux had been playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL and was expected to come to UND in the fall of 2014, but a source says he’s expected to soon leave the USHL and sign with Barrie.

At the time of his commitment, Lemieux said he researched and made visits to OHL teams as well as colleges and made the decision that the college route was for him. Even so, Barrie still used a high pick on him in the OHL draft.

Lemieux had one goal and one assist in 11 games this season for the Gamblers. He led the team with 34 penalty minutes.

UND previously lost three recruits to CHL teams in the span of 18 months in first-round draft picks J.T. Miller and Stefan Matteau as well as undrafted forward Miles Koules.