EGF's Mason Poolman commits to St. Thomas
The Penticton Vees defenseman will play Division-I hockey like his older brothers Tucker and Colton.
EAST GRAND FORKS — When Mason Poolman hung out around Karl Goehring, the UND hockey assistant coach would drop hints.
"He would always say, 'I think you'd be a good D-man,'" said Mason, who played forward for East Grand Forks Senior High.
Mason's older brother, Tucker, made the move from forward to defenseman while playing high school hockey for the Green Wave. After a long-and-winding road, Tucker eventually played college hockey at UND and in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks.
Mason's other brother, Colton, also played defense. Colton went on to captain UND and is now in the American Hockey League, a step away from the NHL.
"Karl had been nudging me toward it," Mason said of the position switch. "I never really wanted to. But I think I finally saw what he was seeing and I decided to go for it. He was really the one who got me to go for it."
Mason transitioned to defense in the summer of 2021, and in just over a year at the position, he's earned himself a spot in Division-I hockey.
Poolman committed to the University of St. Thomas this weekend and will join the Tommies next fall.
The second-year Division-I program, which is based in St. Paul, Minn., plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
"Once they offered, it was a pretty easy decision," Poolman said. "I think they're building something special. I'm happy to be part of that culture they're trying to build and to play in a good conference and go to a good school. There's not much bad about it."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-handed defenseman has been playing on the right side of the ice for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League this season.
Penticton is 16-0-0. Poolman has six assists.
"I think it's gone really well," Poolman said of the position change. "I think the biggest reason I did it is because of my skating. I think I'm a pretty good skater. I think like a defenseman. There are always going to be things to work on — my gap, walking the blue line, there are all sorts of defenseman-specific things — but I think it's gone really well being a year-and-a-half into it."
Poolman graduated from East Grand Forks in 2020. He played one year for the Austin (Minn.) Bruins in the North American Hockey League before deciding to try defense.
Just a couple of weeks after deciding to switch, Penticton coach Fred Harbinson called and said he was looking to add a defenseman. Poolman tallied a goal and 11 points in 32 games in his first year on the blue line.
Poolman said it was a goal to reach Division-I hockey — just like Tucker and Colton. Now, he's done that.
"I think it's really cool we all made it," Poolman said. "Obviously, I haven't played yet. But I'm going to. I think that's a really big accomplishment. None of us did it for a legacy or because someone else did. We each did it for our own reasons."