The Marquette Rangers have announced that forward Chad Pietila has committed to Northern Michigan University, while defenseman Reed Rushing will attend Bowling Green State University.
Both players - the 12th and 13th who competed in January's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament to commit to a Division I program following the event - will join their respective CCHA schools next season.
“They’re both going to do well at their schools,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “They’ve both worked extremely hard to get to this point and both were able to turn some heads over the course of the season. We couldn’t be happier for these guys and their families.
“There isn’t a kid playing junior hockey that doesn’t dream of making it to D-I college, so we’re very proud as an organization to do our part and help them realize that dream.”
The two players, however, had very different paths to their college destinations. For Rushing, it was more of a process over time, whereas Pietila’s journey from Lakeview Arena across the street to the Berry Events Center was much shorter in both distance and time.
“We started talking seriously about a week ago,” Pietila said of his conversations with NMU. “We talked and they told me where things stood and I decided to take it. It’s such a great opportunity for me as a player, plus I’ve got a lot of family here in the U.P. so it really is a dream for me to be able to stay in Marquette and play for Northern.”
Pietila, a native of Milford, Mich., added that playing for the Rangers in Marquette, in such close proximity to NMU, played a part in him becoming a Wildcat.
“Our schedules don’t match up very often, but they had a chance to follow me and see me from time to time which I’m sure played a part in me winding up there.
“Coach (Miller) was real helpful in making this happen, too, so I’m grateful to him and everyone in the organization for helping make this happen for me.”
Rushing, a Seattle native, echoed Pietila on the help he received from Miller and the Rangers.
“Coach was great,” Rushing said. “He communicated with coach (Scott) Paluch at BG a lot about me and really helped me get in front of them at the right times.
They (Bowling Green) came to the Top Prospects to watch me play, and coach (Miller) talked to them after that and it all fell in to place from there. I’m grateful to him and the Rangers for helping me to get to this point. I’m excited to be going to BG next year”
Rushing said he’s excited to be a part of a rebuilding process with the Falcons.
“They’ve been down for awhile, but they’re rebuilding and it’ll be exciting to be a part of that,” he said. “They have a national championship (1984) already and I hope to be able to get in there and make a difference right away.”
Rushing is in his final year of junior eligibility and came to Marquette from the Motor City Machine in the fall in a three-player deal. Pietila is completing his second full season with the Rangers and is currently the team’s leading scorer with 60 points (24 goals) on the season.
The 11 other NAHL players to commit to a school after the Top Prospects Tournament are: Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman Brandon Martell (Ohio State University) and goaltender Phil Cook (Minnesota State-Mankato); Motor City Machine forward Ryan Misiak (Mercyhurst College); Springfield Jr. Blues forward Trent Frey (Mercyhurst); St. Louis Bandits defenseman Tyler Elbrecht (Minnesota State-Mankato) and goaltender Keith Kinkaid (Union); Topeka RoadRunners goaltender Bryce Merriam (RPI) and forward Steve Shafer (Canisius College); and Wenatchee Wild forwards Ducan McKellar (Bemidji State University) and Mitch Torrel (Air Force) and goaltender Mathieu Dugas (Bemidji State).