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Forney signs with Atlanta, won't be back at UND

Michael Forney wrestled with the decision for three months. Should he sign with the Atlanta Thrashers or return to UND, where he spent two injury-plagued years before rediscovering his game in the United States Hockey League? The answer came on M...

Michael Forney wrestled with the decision for three months.

Should he sign with the Atlanta Thrashers or return to UND, where he spent two injury-plagued years before rediscovering his game in the United States Hockey League?

The answer came on Monday morning.

Forney signed a multiyear, two-way contract with the Thrashers, giving up his final two years of college eligibility.

The Thief River Falls native is expected to start his pro career with the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves this fall, possibly alongside former UND teammates Rylan Kaip and Andrew Kozek.

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Forney came to UND as a highly touted recruit, who was drafted in the third round by the Thrashers in 2006. But his college career never amounted to the big goals and big points that were expected.

He separated his shoulder during the first week of practice of his freshman season and battled health issues for the better part of the two years in Grand Forks. He played 16 games as a rookie and just three as a sophomore, tallying two assists.

Forney went to the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL last year in order to play big minutes and find the magic he displayed in leading Thief River Falls to its first state tournament appearance in 41 years in 2006.

Forney put up big numbers, scoring 26 goals and adding 34 assists for 60 points in 59 games. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound forward also was one of the league's top plus-minus players.

This summer, Forney went back and forth on whether he should return to UND or sign with Atlanta. He ruled out the possibility of transferring months ago, saying that he couldn't visualize himself playing for any college besides UND.

Although he was popular in the community and amongst his Sioux teammates (about 15 of them drove to Fargo to watch him play USHL games this winter), Forney decided that his best career route was with Atlanta.

Forney attended the team's development camp two weeks ago and is now the third former Sioux player to join Atlanta's organization.

With Forney out of the mix, UND's freshman class appears to be set with the exception of a third-string goaltender. The rookie forwards will be Danny Kristo, Mike Cichy, Brett Bruneteau and Carter Rowney. The freshman defensemen will be Andrew MacWilliam, Joe Gleason and Ryan Hill, while Aaron Dell will compete in goal.

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UND's season begins Oct. 4 with an exhibition game against the University of Manitoba in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Related Topics: UND FIGHTING HAWKS HOCKEY
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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