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Grand Forks native Jackson Kunz commits to UND

For the last couple of years, there has been buzz about three big, skilled, up-and-coming Grand Forks hockey players.

After landing commitments from 2000-born Braden Costello and 2001-born Judd Caulfield, UND completed the trifecta Monday morning, when it received a verbal commitment from 2002-born Jackson Kunz.

Kunz, a 6-foot-2 forward who is just 14 years old, told UND coach Brad Berry that he would play his college hockey at UND.

"I've been watching them since I was 3 years old," Kunz said. "I was going to games since I was 3. It's a great facility, a great arena, the coaching is really, really good and it just feels like home. It's meant for me.

"It's really a dream come true. It's humbling and I'm very honored."

Kunz is the second-youngest player ever to commit to UND and did so before ever playing a high school varsity game. But even though he also took an unofficial visit to Minnesota, there was little doubt where he would end up.

Kunz comes from a family of UND hockey fans. His aunt, Kelsey Fletcher, is a former UND defenseman. And he grew up watching the program.

His favorite player?

"Probably Tyson Jost recently," he said. "He's just a good all-around player and a good person, too. That really helps."

Kunz will be a freshman at Grand Forks Red River next season and will try out for the varsity team.

He has been a dominant player in his age group, playing for the Grand Forks Aviators bantam team that was ranked No. 1 in the state of Minnesota for part of last season. The Aviators were coached by former UND national champion player Tarek Howard.

Greater Grand Forks has continued to churn out a number of Division I prospects—and UND has landed the lion's share of them.

The Fighting Hawks won the 2016 NCAA national championship with Grand Forks products Paul LaDue, Luke Johnson and Johnny Simonson and East Grand Forks products Gage Ausmus and Tucker Poolman leading the way.

UND has more on its current team in Casey Johnson of Grand Forks and Colton Poolman and Dixon Bowen of East Grand Forks.

Kunz is the third future commit from Grand Forks, joining Costello and Caulfield.

"I'm very excited," Kunz said.

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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