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UMD men's hockey: Cloquet's Bender, Warroad's Roth sign AHL deals

Former Minnesota Wilderness teammates heading to American Hockey League following careers at Minnesota Duluth.

UMD Men's hockey faces Omaha at Baxter Arena
Minnesota Duluth forward Koby Bender (11) takes control of a loose puck near Omaha defenseman Nolan Krenzen (12) on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth fifth-year senior wingers Koby Bender and Kobe Roth signed amateur tryout agreements in the American Hockey League on Tuesday with Bender joining the Bridgeport Islanders of the American Hockey League and Roth being added to the roster of the Texas Stars.

Bender, 24, of Cloquet, was a standout for Cloquet/Esko/Carlton before leaving high school hockey early to play for the other hometown team in Cloquet, the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League.

Despite his success in Cloquet at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Bender had to fight for ice time his first two seasons at Amsoil Arena as a Bulldog, playing in nine games as a freshman and 16 as a sophomore. It wasn't until his junior season of 2019-20 that he earned a regular spot in the lineup and as a senior and fifth-year senior, Bender combined to score 14 goals and 32 assists in 70 games the past two years. The seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points Bender had in 2021-22 were collegiate highs.

Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey plays North Dakota at Amsoil Saturday
Minnesota Duluth forward Kobe Roth (10) skates with the puck near North Dakota forward Matteo Costantini (18) on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Bender and Roth were teammates together on the Minnesota Wilderness in 2015-16 and were two of 10 the freshmen UMD brought on campus in the fall of 2017. They helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back national championships during their first two seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19, as well as NCHC Frozen Faceoff titles in 2019 and 2022.

Roth, 25, out of Warroad High School, broke his leg as a freshman during the 2018 NCAA championship win over Notre Dame at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. He was a double-digit goal scorer and 20-plus point-getter in his final three seasons, scoring a collegiate-high 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points as a fifth-year senior in 2021-22.


Fanti makes AHL debut

Former Bulldogs goaltender Ryan Fanti, who played two seasons for the Wilderness from 2017-2019, made his professional debut on an ATO with the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday in a 6-5 win over the Colorado Eagles at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado — the same rink where his college career ended.

Fanti made 36 saves on 41 shots after giving up a goal 32 seconds into his pro debut. Former Bulldogs goaltender Hunter Miska played the third period for the Eagles, making eight saves on nine shots on what was supposed to be his off night.

A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Fanti signed a two-year entry-level NHL deal with the Edmonton Oilers this spring. That deal officially begins with the 2022-23 season.

Anderson on the board

Former Bulldogs defenseman Matt Anderson made his pro debut in the ECHL last week with the South Carolina Stingrays. He picked up his first pro goal in his third professional game Saturday — a 6-3 home win over the Florida Everblades.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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