Fairbanks defenseman Abbott makes NCAA DI commitment
October 4, 2018
By Brad Joyal, News-Miner
Fairbanks Ice Dogs and North American Hockey League (NAHL) rookie defenseman Dylan Abbott has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Minnesota State-Mankato in the WCHA.
It wasn’t a tough decision for Abbott (6’0/180) to make. The native of Wasilla, Alaska always felt comfortable talking to the Minnesota State University Mankato hockey coaching staff. For more than a year, Abbott engaged in conversations with Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings before making it official.
Abbott, 16, said he was inspired by the opportunity to play for Hastings, who has been at Mankato since 2012 and will also serve as head coach for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team.
“I’ve been talking to them for over a year and a half,” Abbott said after Tuesday’s practice at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. “The coaching staff is one of the best in college hockey, especially with coach Hastings there. He’s been so successful over the years, and he’s been treating me very well. That’s the main reason I decided that’s where I want to go.”
Playing at Minnesota State will give Abbott an opportunity to play some games in Alaska. The Mavericks compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which includes the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage, and Abbott is already thinking about what it’ll be like to play college hockey in front of his family and friends from Wasilla.
“I’m definitely going to have to get some tickets for my family,” he said. “They’re really excited.”
Minnesota State typically competes for WCHA titles and NCAA Tournament berths, though hockey wasn’t the only factor in Abbott’s decision. The defenseman said he also felt home in Mankato, a city of about 40,000 that is located roughly 80 miles south of Minneapolis.
“Mankato is a smaller town, it actually reminds me of my hometown, Wasilla,” said Abbott, who has tallied two assists this season. “That’s a big reason I fell in love with it there.”
As excited as he is to no longer worry about catching the attention of college coaches, Abbott said he’s much more focused on helping the Ice Dogs succeed during his first year in Fairbanks.
“I’m not thinking about (committing) too much, I’m just trying to play hockey, do the best I can and help this team win,” he said.