UND commit Abram Wiebe emerges as a prospect, becomes Vegas Golden Knights draft pick
The defenseman is set to play for the Chilliwack Chiefs in 2022-23, then come to campus the following year.
GRAND FORKS — Abram Wiebe entered last year with no college offers.
It was likely a product of the coronavirus pandemic. He had only played a few games during the 2020-21 season because of shutdowns and restrictions in Western Canada.
But that quickly changed for the Chilliwack Chiefs defenseman.
By November, Wiebe heard from 30-40 different NCAA programs.
"I had a really good start to the season," Wiebe said. "I was just over a point per game. When the (BCHL) Showcase hit, I played one of my two best games of the year. That's when teams started funneling in."
Wiebe narrowed it down to four — North Dakota, Omaha, Minnesota State-Mankato and Northeastern. He did Zoom tours of all four spots and settled on the Fighting Hawks.
"It was clear to me where I wanted to go and where I thought I would develop best," Wiebe said. "They have amazing coaches and looking at the facility, that's just a bonus. That place is unreal. When you look at NHL arenas and North Dakota, I'd say North Dakota has a nicer facility than a lot of NHL teams, which is pretty cool.
"Looking at their team, they have a lot of good players coming in. It looks like a place where I'm going to get a good amount of opportunity. I'm really excited."
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman won't be coming to school just yet.
Wiebe plans to play for Chilliwack again this season in the British Columbia Hockey League. Then, he'll come to campus in the fall of 2023, when UND will face an overhaul on the blue line.
Defensemen Ty Farmer, Chris Jandric and Ryan Sidorski all run out of college eligibility after this season, while Tyler Kleven and Ethan Frisch could potentially sign pro contracts.
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Wiebe, who finished last season with two goals and 31 points in 54 games, said his goal is to continue rounding out his game so he's ready to play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2023-24.
"For me, at the beginning of last season, I was really producing offensively," Wiebe said. "Then, when Christmas hit, we started to focus on the defensive game a little more. It wasn't that I was a bad defender. I just had to work on stick positioning and small things like that to bring my game to the next level for the draft and everything. As the season went along, I turned into a good defenseman and played on the penalty kill and the power play. Going into next season, I see myself as a defenseman that can play in all situations and areas of the game."
Wiebe's play last season caught the attention of the Vegas Golden Knights, who selected him in the seventh round, No. 209 overall, in July's draft.
After the draft, Wiebe attended a week-long development camp with the Golden Knights.
"Really busy days," Wiebe said. "We were up at 6-7 a.m. every morning. We had team breakfast, practices, skills work, cooking classes, mental classes, a social media seminar, a Q&A with Zach Whitecloud and Keegan Kolesar and three scrimmages on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I felt I got better and better as the games went on."
Wiebe's sights are set on his immediate future, though.
He'll return to Chilliwack to be a leader on a team that is facing a lot of turnover. Most of Chilliwack's top players departed this summer to begin their college careers. Wiebe's, however, will wait one more season.
"I need to get better every day, so I can show the coaches I'm ready to go to North Dakota and play at that level — and not just go to sit in the stands, but to play in the lineup every night," Wiebe said. "This year, the focus will be on the defensive part and on getting up into the rush and being a difference-maker every time I'm on the ice."