East Grand Forks' Haley Mack becomes first Bemidji State player to be picked in NWHL Draft
Haley Mack was planning to move to the Twin Cities area after graduating from Bemidji State.
Now, she might be able to play pro hockey while she's there.
The former East Grand Forks Senior High star was selected by the Minnesota Whitecaps in the fourth round, No. 23 overall, in the NWHL Draft on Wednesday night.
In doing so, Mack became the first Bemidji State player ever picked in the NWHL Draft.
"I'm very honored to be a part of their organization," Mack said. "I had such a wonderful hockey experience at Bemidji State under my coach, Jim Scanlan, and I'm so excited to have an opportunity to possibly extend my hockey career with the Whitecaps.
"I think it could be part of a plan. I moved away in high school to go to the Cities. I loved it down there. Now, it could come full circle."
The Whitecaps, who won the 2019 Isobel Cup as NWHL champions and were set to play in the final this year when the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the season, loaded up on players from this area in the five-round draft.
They used their first-round pick to get Alex Woken of Fargo and their second-round pick to take Patti Marshall of Thief River Falls.
Mack is coming off of the best season in her college career. She posted a team-high 15 goals and 28 points in 37 games as a senior for the Beavers.
"She's been a dynamic player since she stepped on campus," said Scanlan, who also coached Mack in East Grand Forks. "She got sidelined with a couple of injuries that kept her totals down, but she led our team in scoring, led our team in goals and obviously played a huge role -- a top-six forward -- while playing on the power play and penalty kill. She set an all-time record here in shorthanded goals.
"She was someone who could score in a league where it's hard to score. She was pretty consistent and wound up fifth all-time in total goals. She was just a real impact player from Day 1."
Mack led the team in goals and points as both a sophomore and senior. Her junior year was cut short due to injury.
Scanlan said she has a lot of attributes that make her dynamic offensively.
"She's deceptively fast," Scanlan said. "She's not the classic speedster who jumps out at you, but when it comes to a race to the puck, she wins it more times than not. She's quick in tight areas. She has a great release. She's not going to beat a goalie from the top of the circles out like a Lamoureux -- there are so few players who can do that these days -- but she's really good in tight. She has a quick release and can get it on her backhand and up under the bar. She's not the biggest player in the world, but she's really competitive and really tenacious."
Mack said she followed the draft from her home in East Grand Forks after the Whitecaps emailed her Tuesday to say they intended to select her Wednesday.
She's been staying in shape there, despite the pandemic, while finishing up her college degree.
Mack said her time at Bemidji State was memorable.
"I would describe it as unbelievable and amazing," Mack said of her time at Bemidji State. "I couldn't have asked for a better school to go to. I've had the best teammates, who are still my best friends. Every single one of them has reached out to me. The coaching staff is unbelievable from Jim to Shane (Veenker) and Amber (Fryklund). They've all been tremendous during my time at Bemidji State. They all played a huge part in my growth as a person and a hockey player. I'll take that with me through my next journey in life."