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From Brainerd to Austin to Fargo, Anthony Menghini set to bring his abilities to Minnesota Duluth

Anthony Menghini flashed his goal-scoring and playmaking ability often last season for the Austin Bruins. Now he's doing the same with the USHL's Fargo Force. The Brainerd native's hard work has helped him fulfill a childhood dream. Wednesday he announced his commitment to play Division I college hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Anthony Menghini was one of the Austin Bruins' top scorers last season, when he recorded 34 points in 40 games. Now with the USHL's Fargo Force, Menghini has announced his commitment to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Contributed file photo / Austin Bruins

Anthony Menghini grew up in Brainerd, a perfectly centralized location for a young college hockey fan with a passion for all of the Division I teams in Minnesota.

As Menghini viewed from afar the success of the programs in St. Cloud and Bemidji, Mankato and Minneapolis, his eyes kept turning to the northeastern-most Division I program in the state, the University of Minnesota Duluth.

“Just being from Minnesota, (UMD) is always one of the schools you watch,” Menghini said. “It’s an NCHC school — I think, the best conference in the nation — and it was always a dream to be able to play there.”

That dream became a reality Wednesday, when Menghini — who was a dynamic 20-goal scorer last season for the Austin Bruins — committed to head coach Scott Sandelin and the Bulldogs.

Menghini, who now plays for the USHL’s Fargo Force, said UMD began talking to him two months ago, first at a showcase in Sioux City, Iowa, then at the USHL Fall Classic showcase in Pittsburgh in late September.


Sandelin then drove to Fargo to watch Menghini play in the Force’s home opener on Oct. 8 — a game that Fargo lost 4-3 against Sioux Falls, and one of just three games so far this season in which Menghini didn’t record a point.

That was no problem for the UMD coach, though. The Bulldogs made him a scholarship offer after Menghini visited the UMD campus last week.
“When they made the offer, I just couldn’t turn it down,” said Menghini, who has four goals and six points in seven games with the Force. “It was definitely the best fit for me and something there was no way I could turn down.”


Menghini’s excitement on Wednesday was understandable, considering the road he traveled to get to Duluth was filled with potholes for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound left-shot forward who will turn 20 on Dec. 3.

While he never doubted that he has the ability to play for one of the best college programs in the country, Menghini at times wondered if his streak of bad luck (untimely injuries) would allow it. He sat in the stands for more than half of the 2020-21 season, his senior year at Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria.

In November of 2020, he suffered two torn ligaments in his left ankle, which kept him off the ice for three months. He tirelessly worked his way back only to suffer three torn ligaments in his right ankle three weeks later. That injury required surgery and kept him out another three months.

“It was super frustrating,” Menghini told the Post Bulletin back in April. “Those were my first two big injuries that ever caused me to have to sit out a good amount of time. It was really hard to adjust and deal with, but my parents and family were really supportive and I just battled through it.”

While Menghini knew his chances of getting selected in the 2021 USHL Draft were slim, he also knew he had an ace up his sleeve — Bruins coaches Steve Howard, Justin Fisher and Hampus Sjodahl had signed him to a tender agreement.

He was impressive at Austin’s tryout camp in the summer of 2021 — impressive enough that a scout from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers offered him a spot with their club to start last season. Menghini played in 16 games for the Buccaneers between late September and late November, recording two goals and an assist. He was let go a week before his 19th birthday, but embraced his return to Austin, where he knew he’d be a big part of the offense and play in all situations, including the power-play and anytime the Bruins were in need of some offense.


Menghini lived up to that ice time, finishing fifth on the team in scoring (21-13—34) despite playing in just 40 of the Bruins’ 63 games.

“I was so happy to get to play in Austin,” Menghini said Wednesday, a couple hours after announcing his commitment to UMD. “It was a great place to grow and to learn. The coaching staff — coach Howard and coach ‘Fish’ and coach Hampus are all great guys — I couldn’t have asked for better coaches and teammates.

“I thought Austin was great and I used it as motivation to get back to the USHL, to get that hunger back inside me.”

That hunger has helped Menghini fulfill a childhood dream.

Now he can play nearly a full final season of junior hockey with the pressure of the recruiting process gone, just like any doubts Menghini had about being able to return to top form after two severe injuries. He'll head to UMD next fall.

“It was a little stressful, with having sometimes 10 phone calls in a day, but it was a great experience,” Menghini said of his recruitment process. “It’s pretty incredible, though, being from a smaller town like Brainerd, Minnesota, then you have NCHC and Big Ten schools calling … it’s pretty eye-opening where hard work can take you.”

Jason Feldman is the sports editor of the Post Bulletin. In addition to managing the four-person sports staff at the PB, Jason covers high school football, golf and high school and junior hockey. Readers can reach Jason at 507-281-7430 or jfeldman@postbulletin.com.
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