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MEN'S HOCKEY: Offensive defenseman commits to UND

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The new trend in college hockey is to have more offensive, puck-moving defenseman instead of the stay-at-home, physical blue liners.

UND’s latest commit is exactly that.

Matt Kiersted, a sophomore offensive defenseman at Elk River (Minn.) High School, gave a verbal commitment Saturday to play for UND in the future.

When he arrives on campus, he figures to be a dynamic threat from the back end. Kiersted tallied 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 27 games as a sophomore at Elk River, which played in the section championship game.

“I like to be the fourth guy in the rush and jump up in the play in the offensive zone,” Kiersted said.

Kiersted, who also was talking with Minnesota Duluth, MSU-Mankato and Minnesota, said he’s looking to improve on his play in the defensive zone, in the corners and in front of the net. His development will dictate when he comes to campus.

Kiersted visited campus Saturday and made his commitment on the visit.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always dreamed of going to North Dakota and playing for the Sioux,” Kiersted said. “When I played for the Minnesota Machine, we would go up to Winnipeg and play. We’d always stop on the way in Grand Forks and get a tour of the arena. I fell in love with the town and the school ever since.”

Kiersted said he plans to play next season with Elk River High School. He could play in the United States Hockey League as a senior. He’s expected to be picked in the USHL Futures Draft in May.

Kierstad is the second 1998-born player to commit to UND this week. Grand Rapids, Minn., forward Mitchell Mattson committed on Tuesday.

“I like how it’s not a huge college and not a small college,” Kiersted said. “It’s right in the middle. I like the class sizes. It just seemed like a good fit for me. I like the small-town feel.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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