UMass defenseman Ty Farmer to transfer to UND for fifth season
The blue liner won a Clark Cup with the Fargo Force and an NCAA national title with the Minutemen.
GRAND FORKS — The 2018 Clark Cup-clinching game was tied 2-2 with less than four minutes to go.
The Fargo Force scored back-to-back goals to win 4-2 and bring home their first United States Hockey League championship.
Those final two title-winning goals: Ty Farmer and Mark Senden.
Farmer has already brought one championship to the state of North Dakota. Now, he wants to do it again at the college level.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman will transfer from UMass to UND for his fifth and final year of college eligibility.
"I'm coming back to the great state of North Dakota," Farmer said. "I was graduating (from UMass) and decided I wanted to come back (to school). I wanted a change of scenery. North Dakota is the best option for me. The coaches gave me a shout early on and expressed interest. It was a no-brainer. I was set on it the whole time."
Farmer went into the NCAA transfer portal March 29 and signed with the Fighting Hawks on Wednesday, just eight days later.
"I was talking to quite a few teams," he said. "My phone was ringing off the hook the last week or so. But for me, I was kind of always interested in UND. When I was in Fargo, I remember watching games on TV and seeing it all over the media. It was something I wanted to do back then. Now, I get a second time around on it, and it was a no-brainer for me. I was pretty set on coming to UND from the beginning (of entering the transfer portal)."
Farmer comes with a championship pedigree. Not only did he win a title with the Force, he also helped UMass to its first NCAA championship in school history last spring.
A scouting report
Farmer plays a similar style of game to former UND great Troy Stecher.
While undersized for a defenseman, he's competitive, plays with a lot of energy, defends well and can create offense through his skating. He led all UMass defensemen in plus-minus last season with a plus-14 rating.
Farmer's numbers didn't always show the offense at UMass. He had 18 points as a freshman, 11 as a sophomore, six as a junior and nine as a senior.
But Farmer often covered for freelancing defensive partners. This season, he was paired with rookie Scott Morrow, who frequently roamed the offensive zone as Farmer covered defensively.
"I spent the last four years really focusing on rounding out my defensive game," Farmer said. "I think it's time for me to elevate on the opposite side."
Former UND great Cary Eades, who was the head coach and general manager of the 2018 Force team, said Farmer has the ability to be an offensive producer. Farmer finished second among USHL defensemen in points during the 2017-18 season.
"I don't think there's any question," Eades said of Farmer's ability to generate offense. "He was on a pretty deep D-core his four years at UMass. He played behind (Cale) Makar at first, then (Marc) Del Gaizo, Morrow. . . he was in a pretty crowded house. I'm not sure how much power-play time he had there, but he's definitely a power-play potential player. He has to earn his spot and prove that, but for his size, he competes and he battles with his stick.
"He's been around some wars. He's been on two championship teams — one in juniors and one in college. You can't have enough winners on your team."
Farmer's Clark Cup-clinching goal against Youngstown was a memorable one.
"They dump the puck, he goes back to retrieve it," Eades said. "It's tied late in a playoff game. He goes D-to-D with his partner. He sees an opening, heads up ice and gets the return pass around the red line. I'm going 'No, no, no!' By the third, 'no,' he splits the 'D' and goes in on a breakaway and scores. Then, it's 'Yes!' To have the confidence to do that in that situation speaks volumes."
Good fit for UND
The Fighting Hawks are still awaiting a final decision from sophomore defenseman Tyler Kleven, who is being heavily pursued by the Ottawa Senators. But they appear hopeful that Kleven will return to school for a third season.
Assuming he does, Farmer is an excellent fit for UND as a right-handed shooting defenseman. The Fighting Hawks will now have an even split of four left-handers and four right-handers on the back end.
The left-handers are Kleven, Chris Jandric, Cooper Moore and Luke Bast. The right-handers are Ethan Frisch, Farmer, Brent Johnson and Brady Ferner.
Farmer is the second player UND has grabbed from the NCAA transfer portal since the end of the season. It also has received a commitment from Michigan State goalie Drew DeRidder, a fifth-year graduate transfer.
If Kleven stays, the Fighting Hawks are set at both the defense and goaltending positions for next season, barring any unforeseen changes.
Now, UND will work to get its forwards finalized.
Seniors Gavin Hain and Mark Senden are expected to make final decisions this week on whether to come back for a fifth season.
If they do, perhaps Farmer and Senden can reclaim some of their USHL magic.
"We want to win games," Farmer said. "We're the same in that regard. Linking back up with him will bring back old memories from Fargo. But we're trying to create new ones now."