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UND's commit list loaded with NHL prospects

Duluth East hockey player Ryder Donovan is committed to UND. Photo by Bob King / Forum News Service.

UND had seven NHL draft picks on its roster last season, the fewest in 15 seasons.

The lack of high-end skill was evident at times. Offense could be tough to find.

But that's about to change.

UND's commitment list is loaded with high-end prospects and future NHL draft picks.

It starts with four incoming rookies this season—first-round pick Jacob Bernard-Docker, second-round pick Jonny Tychonick, fourth-round pick Jasper Weatherby and sixth-round pick Gavin Hain.

That's only the beginning.

UND coach Brad Berry, associate coach Dane Jackson and assistant Matt Shaw have been rolling on the recruiting trail for the last couple of years, and the Fighting Hawks will soon start seeing those commits show up on campus.

The Fighting Hawks could have 12-15 players selected in the next two drafts alone.

The All-American Prospect Game in September showcased four UND commits who are likely to hear their names called in the 2019 NHL Draft: forward Judd Caulfield of Grand Forks, defenseman Ethan Frisch of Moorhead, forward Ryder Donovan of Duluth and forward Shane Pinto of Franklin Square, N.Y.

Scouts have quietly been raving about Frisch, saying he's going to skyrocket up the draft rankings as he plays for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League during his senior season.

"I'm excited," Frisch said. "Going in, I've got some confidence. That will be a big part of it. I'm really excited to see what I can prove at the USHL level.

"I don't like to compare myself to anyone else. Be my own player. Be the best player I can be day in and day out. Every day is a new opportunity for me."

Pinto, a relatively unknown prospect heading into this season, is already making a name for himself. He led the USHL in scoring during the preseason and has two goals in his first two games of the regular season.

"I'm excited for my future (at UND)," Pinto said. "I can't wait. It's awesome there. Not even just the facility, the coaches, I love them. They're great people. I'm excited to play for them. It's going to be awesome."

Caulfield, a big power forward, and Donovan, a big speedy forward, are projected to go in the top half of the draft, too.

Forward commits Massimo Rizzo of Penticton (BCHL) and Harrison Blaisdell of Chilliwack (BCHL) were ineligible for the All-American Prospect Game because they're Canadians, but both will likely be picked.

Rizzo is recovering from injury and hasn't played yet for Penticton. Blaisdell has 10 points in 10 games to start the season for Chilliwack.

Halliday a top prospect

A lot can happen before the 2020 NHL Draft, but UND has three apparent big-time prospects in No. 1 USHL draft pick Stephen Halliday and National Team Development Program defensemen Tyler Kleven of Fargo and Jake Sanderson of Whitefish, Mont.

Halliday, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger is being talked about as a potential top 15 pick in the draft. He is playing with Central Illinois in the USHL this season.

Kleven was listed as a player to watch for the 2020 NHL Draft by The Hockey News.

A few other rising prospects for 2020 are defensemen Mitchell Miller, who has Christian Wolanin-like offensive skills, and blue liner Luke Reid, who will graduate early to focus on hockey development before coming to UND.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman 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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