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PREP HOCKEY: EGF’s Tucker Poolman is the USHL player of the year

Tucker Poolman

Just a couple of years ago, Tucker Poolman was cut by junior hockey teams.

Now, he’s the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year.

Poolman, an East Grand Forks product and UND commit, earned the high honor Thursday after the completion a dominant season in the United States Hockey League.

Poolman led the USHL in goals by a defenseman with 15, while tallying 41 points for the Omaha Lancers. He will come to UND in the fall and is expected to step into the lineup as a freshman.

The list of previous winners is an impressive one, full of college hockey stars. Former UND players who won the award include Karl Goehring in 1997 and Jason Blake in 1994. Both helped UND to national championships.

Other winners include Grand Forks native Ryan Potulny (2003), NHLers Joe Pavelski (2004), Trevor Lewis (2006) and Jeff Petry (2007) and Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly (2008).

Only two other defensemen have won the award in the last 20 years — Petry and Minnesota Duluth’s Andy Welinski (2012).

Poolman played for the Green Wave until he graduated in 2011, then moved to the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the North American Hockey League. After a strong season there, he went to the Omaha Lancers, where he played two seasons.

Poolman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets.

Defense is expected to be one of UND’s big strengths this upcoming season. UND returns blue line regulars Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Mattson, Paul LaDue, Troy Stecher, Keaton Thompson and Gage Ausmus from last season’s NCAA Frozen Four team. Poolman will join that crew.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th 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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