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College commitments continue to climb

June 28, 2011

Traditionally, the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) NCAA college commitment list exceeds the century mark every year, and this season is no exception.

Close to 100 current and former players have their Division I and III plans in place for next season and beyond with that number certain to escalate in the coming weeks as schools continue to lock in on more top talent the NAHL has to offer.

“Seeing our college commitment list reach such a high number isn’t really a surprise since we accomplish that goal year after year, but it’s always nice to witness,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “It’s not only a terrific accomplishment for all of the student-athletes, but also for our organizations, namely the ownership groups and coaching staffs who provide these players all the resources they need to succeed.”

Of the 26 teams that competed in the NAHL during the 2010-11 season, the Traverse City North Stars and Wenatchee Wild boast the most commitments to date with 10 apiece. All of the North Stars’ college-bound players are heading to Division I institutions; the Wild have nine off to D-I programs with the other set to play D-III.

For Anthony Palumbo, Traverse City’s former head coach who now serves as the team’s general manager, seeing his players advance to college hockey as always been a top priority.

“When the North Stars began as a franchise, it was the primary goal of the team to create opportunities for young men to realize their dream of playing college hockey,” said Palumbo. “We’ve always believed that if we moved young men onto the next level, we’d be a successful team.

“It’s been great as an organization to reach our goal of moving kids on, but we feel we can do even more for our players in terms of college placement.”

John Becanic, who will begin his first full season behind the bench this coming year, also realizes the importance of college placements.

“I think the Wild organization takes great pride in its development of student-athletes,” said Becanic. “It’s certainly advantageous to us when we enter the recruiting process.”

Palumbo believes the NAHL, as a whole, should be commended for its efforts in terms of player development.

“The NAHL has done a wonderful job of helping its players move onto the next level,” he said. “The players from our league are advancing and having an immediate impact when they get (to college). I think that speaks volumes for the quality of play in our league.”

Becanic echoes those sentiments.

“As a league, we should be excited for all teams when they have success at moving players on,” he said. “The NAHL will benefit from each and every player that advances onto the collegiate level and we need to continue working hard at identifying and developing student-athletes.”

View the complete NAHL College Commitment List here

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