Highly-regarded Warroad goalie follows big brother, commits to Northern Michigan
In addition to playing for Team USA over the summer, Hampton Slukynsky was hard at work on the ice in Hockeytown USA, and spent some time considering college offers. In the end, he chose to continue a family tradition and be a Wildcat.
WARROAD, Minn. — Like seemingly every goaltender in hockey who has an older sibling that plays, Hampton Slukynsky first took his place between the pipes as a way to skate with his big brother and their friends.
This week Slukynsky, who backstopped Warroad’s run to the 2022 Class A title game, decided to follow his big brother one more time. One of the more coveted prep goalies in Minnesota, Slukynsky announced his commitment to Northern Michigan. Hampton’s older brother Grant, 20, is a standout forward who is captain of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers this season. Grant committed to the Wildcats in 2020 and is expected to play at NMU next season.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls, a lot of texts, a lot of congratulations,” said Hampton, who made his announcement via Instagram on the morning of Friday, Oct. 14. “I started talking to Northern during the summer and talked to about six or seven schools. It came down to two or three.”
Slukynsky visited Minnesota in early October, and said he had been to the NMU campus quite a bit with his brother. In the end, it was a chance for an on-ice family reunion in the Upper Peninsula that drew him to be a Wildcat.
“We never got to play together in Warroad, so I thought it would be cool to play (with Grant) in college,” Hampton said.
The college considerations were a part of a busy summer for Slukunsky, who is 17 and posted a 26-4-1 record for the Warriors last season with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .925 saves percentage. He skated for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Alberta in early August. And like most of his Warroad teammates, Slukynsky spent the offseason hard at work, determined to win one more game in 2023 after the Warriors fell to Hermantown in the state title game in March.
“A lot of hard work went into my game this summer, and I’m looking forward to getting that chance again,” he said.
Warriors coach Jay Harwick has coached a number of standout goalies, but said that Slukynsky’s intensity in games and in practice is like nothing he has been around.
“He’s as good as I’ve seen, and what sets him apart is his dedication and his work ethic,” Hardwick said. “Every single day when he’s at the rink, he doesn’t change from practice to the game. He shows up at the rink and he’s all business … I’ve never had a goalie that prepares and competes the way he does.”
Slukynsky said he expects to play at least a year of juniors after graduating from Warroad next spring, but could feasibly be on campus at Northern Michigan in the fall of 2024. He will be the second Warroad goalie to stop pucks for the Wildcats, after Corwin Saurdiff played two seasons at NMU from 1991-93. Like the Slukynsky brothers’ hometown, Marquette is a place that is surrounded by woods, is relatively remote, gets plenty of snow and is on the shore of a big lake. So there should not be a ton of culture shock.
“That definitely factored into my decision. Marquette is a lot like Warroad,” Hampton said. “I definitely like that about Marquette.”