Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Daily Skate: At what age does UND typically bring in forward recruits?

Cole Spicer would have been the third-youngest forward to play at UND in the last 18 years had he come to campus this fall.

UND's Drake Caggiula takes a shot during a preseason exhibition game against Manitoba in Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — UND lost one of its commits last week.

Grand Forks native Cole Spicer, who plays for the U.S. Under-18 Team, de-committed after the Fighting Hawks planned to have him to play junior hockey next season, then come to campus in 2023.

Spicer wants to go to college this fall. Once he gets released from his National Letter of Intent — if it hasn't happened already — he will search for a new school that will bring him to campus immediately.

Why didn't UND bring him this fall?

It is true that UND has a logjam of forwards.


The Fighting Hawks are bringing back seniors Gavin Hain and Mark Senden for their fifth seasons, which means they've only lost two forwards — fifth-year senior Connor Ford and fourth-year senior Ashton Calder.

Meanwhile, there are four forwards in line in front of Spicer to come to campus — Jackson Blake, Owen McLaughlin, Ben Strinden and Dylan James. All four are having huge seasons in the United States Hockey League. Blake (76 points), McLaughlin (71 points) and Strinden (55 points) are locks to come to campus. James (60 points) is possible as well.

But it's not just about roster space.

UND typically attempts to assesses the readiness of players to make the jump to college, and it rarely brings in players as young as Spicer, who won't turn 18 until June.

During the tenures of head coaches Dave Hakstol and Brad Berry, spanning the past 18 years, UND has brought just two forwards to campus younger than Spicer — Jonathan Toews and Drake Caggiula.

Toews, the highest-drafted player in UND hockey history at No. 3 overall, was 17 when he came in the fall of 2005. Caggiula, who arrived on campus a decade ago, was a week younger than Spicer. The other 73 forwards to arrive at UND under Hakstol and Berry were all older.

It was rare during the Dean Blais era (1994-04) as well. Blais only brought in four forwards younger than Spicer: Ryan Johnson, Jason Ulmer, Zach Parise and Drew Stafford. Johnson was the No. 36 overall pick, while Parise and Stafford were both top-20 picks. Ulmer was undrafted.

Berry, who is currently finalizing his eighth freshman class, has never brought in a forward or goaltender as young as Spicer. The only two players to come in that young under Berry were defensemen Jake Sanderson (25 days younger than Spicer) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (17 days). Both were first-round draft picks.


While it may seem that Hain and Senden's return pushed back Spicer, history says that's not necessarily the case. Even before there was such thing as a COVID-impacted fifth year and the NCAA transfer portal, UND was very rarely bringing in players that young.

It's apparent why UND has been hesitant to do so. Many of those young forwards struggled.

Three of the nine youngest under Hakstol/Berry — all mid-round NHL Draft picks — never made it to Year 3.

Third-round pick David Toews, a healthy scratch down the stretch of his sophomore year, went to Canadian major junior. Third-round pick Michael Forney went back to the USHL after going two seasons without a goal. And fifth-round pick Harrison Blaisdell transferred out after going on a 48-game goal drought across two seasons.

Even fourth-round pick Brad Malone, also one of the nine youngest forwards under Hakstol and Berry, managed just one goal as a freshman and five as a sophomore. He eventually emerged to become a first-line center in college and an NHLer, but it wasn't without some hard moments.

You have to wonder, in the current era, whether someone with Malone's career path would have ended up in the NCAA transfer portal after Year 1 or 2.

Caggiula ended up being an anomaly.

Only two of the 30 youngest forwards during the Hakstol and Berry eras were been undrafted — Caggiula and Hunter Bishop. Caggiula had success as a young freshman and progressed into the NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player as a senior. Bishop lasted half of a season before going back to juniors.


Spicer isn't the first recruit UND has lost while asking them to play a year of juniors after high school graduation. It's happened two other times in the last four years.

One was high-risk, high-reward defenseman Scott Morrow, a second-round NHL pick who ended up being a big point producer for UMass as a freshman. The other was 6-foot-4 center Ryder Donovan, a fourth-round pick who went to Wisconsin and scored two goals as a freshman, two as a sophomore and two as a junior.

Most scouts expect Spicer will be taken between the fourth and seventh rounds of the NHL Draft this summer. Then, he'll begin his college hockey career somewhere other than UND.

UND's plan to have Spicer play a year of juniors will be surely second-guessed throughout his college career. Time will tell how it plays out and whether UND had the right idea or if it missed the boat.

But the development plan itself is very much in line with what UND has done with other recruits.

Age of UND's forward recruits under Hakstol and Berry

Age as of Oct. 1 of their rookie season

1. Jonathan Toews 17 years, 5 months, 3 days (CHI, 1st round)
2. Drake Caggiula 18 years, 3 months, 11 days
— if Cole Spicer came this fall —
3. David Toews 18 years, 3 months, 24 days (NYI, 3rd)
4. Brad Malone 18 years, 4 months, 11 days (COL, 4th)
5. Michael Forney 18 years, 4 months, 17 days (ATL, 3rd)
6. Gavin Hain 18 years, 5 months, 28 days (PHI, 6th)
7. Judd Caulfield 18 years, 6 months, 12 days (PIT, 5th)
8. Tyson Jost 18 years, 6 months, 17 days (COL, 1st)
9. Harrison Blaisdell 18 years, 6 months, 13 days (WPG, 5th)
10. Brock Boeser 18 years, 7 months, 6 days (VAN, 1st)
11. Nick Schmaltz 18 years, 7 months, 8 days (CHI, 1st)
12. Grant Mismash 18 years, 7 months, 12 days (NSH, 2nd)
13. Austin Poganski 18 years, 7 months, 15 days (STL, 4th)
14. Rocco Grimaldi 18 years, 7 months, 23 days (FLA, 2nd)
15. T.J. Oshie 18 years, 9 months, 8 days (STL, 1st)
16. Matt Watkins 18 years, 10 months, 19 days (DAL, 5th)
17. Shane Pinto 18 years, 10 months, 19 days (OTT, 2nd)
18. Brock Nelson 18 years, 11 months, 16 days (NYI, 1st)
19. Dylan James 18 years, 11 months, 19 days (draft eligible)**

20. Luke Johnson 19 years, 12 days (CHI, 5th)
21. Corban Knight 19 years, 21 days (FLA, 5th)
22. Hunter Bishop 19 years, 26 days
23. Matteo Costantini 19 years, 1 month, 15 days (BUF, 5th)
24. Jackson Kunz 19 years, 1 month, 18 days (VAN, 4th)
25. Jackson Blake 19 years, 1 month, 28 days (CAR, 4th)**
26. Shane Gersich 19 years, 2 months, 21 days (WSH, 5th)
27. Chris Wilkie 19 years, 2 months, 21 days (FLA, 6th)
28. Mike Cichy 19 years, 2 months, 23 days (MTL, 7th)
29. Brendan O'Donnell 19 years, 3 months, 6 days (TBL, 6th)
30. Danny Kristo 19 years, 3 months, 13 days (MTL, 2nd)
— if Cole Spicer came in 2023 —
31. Andrew Kozek 19 years, 4 months, 5 days (ATL, 2nd)
32. Travis Zajac 19 years, 4 months, 18 days (NJD, 1st)
33. Carter Rowney 19 years, 4 months, 21 days
34. Collin Adams 19 years, 5 months, 7 days (NYI, 6th)
35. Owen McLaughlin 19 years, 6 months, 6 days (PHI, 7th)**
36. Chris VandeVelde 19 years, 6 months, 16 days (EDM, 4th)
37. Rhett Gardner 19 years, 7 months, 2 days (DAL, 4th)
38. Jason Gregoire 19 years, 7 months, 7 days (NYI, 3rd)
39. Michael Parks 19 years, 7 months, 16 days (PHI, 5th)
40. Brad Miller 19 years, 8 months
41. Mark MacMillan 19 years, 8 months, 8 days (MTL, 4th)
42. Matt Frattin 19 years, 8 months, 28 days (TOR, 4th)
43. Dane Montgomery 19 years, 9 months, 24 days
44. Colten St. Clair 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
45. Bryn Chyzyk 19 years, 10 months, 26 days
46. Wade Murphy 19 years, 11 months, 9 days (NSH, 7th)
47. Evan Trupp 19 years, 11 months, 9 days
48. Ludvig Hoff 19 years, 11 months, 15 days


49. Darcy Zajac 20 years, 8 days
50. Ryan Duncan 20 years, 2 months, 17 days
51. Derek Rodwell 20 years, 2 years, 23 days (NJD, 5th)
52. Rastislav Spirko 20 years, 3 months, 10 days
53. Mario Lamoureux 20 years, 3 months, 13 days
— if Cole Spicer came in 2024 —
54. Ben Strinden 20 years, 3 months, 27 days (draft eligible)**
55. Carson Albrecht 20 years, 4 months, 8 days
56. Jordan Kawaguchi 20 years, 4 months, 27 days
57. Jake Schmaltz 20 years, 5 months, 7 days (BOS, 7th)
58. Brett Hextall 20 years, 5 months, 29 days (PHX, 6th)
59. Rylan Kaip 20 years, 6 months, 12 days
60. Ryan Martens 20 years, 6 months, 21 days
61. Connor Gaarder 20 years, 6 months, 23 days
62. Louis Jamernik, 20 years, 7 months, 9 days
63. Joel Janatuinen 20 years, 7 months, 29 days
64. Steph Pattyn 20 years, 8 months, 4 days
65. Jasper Weatherby 20 years, 8 months, 9 days (SJS, 4th)
66. Mark Senden 20 years, 8 months, 9 days
67. Brett Bruneteau 20 years, 8 months, 29 days (WSH, 4th)
68. Zach Yon 20 years, 9 months, 1 day
69. Cole Smith 20 years, 9 months, 13 days
70. Brent Davidson 20 years, 9 months, 14 days
71. Griffin Ness 20 years, 9 months, 21 days
72. Trevor Olson 20 years, 10 months, 9 days
73. Mike Gornall 20 years, 11 months, 5 days
74. Riese Gaber 20 years, 11 months, 21 days

75. Jonny Simonson 21 years, 3 months, 15 days
76. Coltyn Sanderson 21 years, 4 months, 5 days
77. Nick Portz 21 years, 4 months, 15 days
78. Jackson Keane 21 years, 5 months, 23 days
79. Taylor Dickin 21 years, 8 months, 8 days

** Denotes potential 2022 arrivals. UND hasn't set its roster yet for next season.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
What to read next
Schmitt has been an officiating supervisor for the conference since 2013
The defenseman is a free agent this summer after an AHL All-Star season for Providence. Ahcan talks about his close relationships in hockey, his development and more on the Huskies Hockey Insider podcast
🔊 Former Moorhead Spud Will Borgen is back in his hometown after helping the Kraken win the franchise's first playoff series. He also shares his SCSU memories.
The facility would be built roughly two miles from the Western Michigan campus and, as envisioned, would have 6,000 seats for hockey, which would be a notable increase from the Broncos current home.
Get Local