Andrew Strathmann has been going through the recruiting process for the last seven months.

The defenseman from Beach Park, Ill., heard from some of college hockey's biggest programs. He picked out a top five: UND, UMass, Boston College, Boston University and Wisconsin. Strathmann did his research on them and was prepared for Aug. 1 — the first day college hockey programs can offer scholarships to high school juniors, and the first day they're allowed to accept those offers.

On Sunday morning, UND coach Brad Berry called Strathmann with the offer, and Strathmann committed on the spot.

"It's all a blessing," Strathmann said. "It's pretty mind-blowing. I haven't really gotten to sit down and think about it. I told Brad that this is kind of setting me up for my life."

Strathmann is a 5-foot-11, 175-pound, left-handed defenseman who captained the Chicago Young Americans last season. He scored 21 goals and tallied 53 points in 57 games.

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Strathmann signed a tender with the United States Hockey League's Tri-City Storm in November, which means the Storm gave up a first-round draft pick in the USHL's Phase-I Draft to secure his rights. Strathmann plans to play for the Storm, based in Kearney, Neb., this season.

"He's probably the best teammate I've ever coached," said Ryan Ward, who coached Strathmann last season and serves as Tri-City's director of player development. "He's insanely loyal. He's a guy who tries to make teammates better every single practice. He's ultra, ultra competitive in anything he does, which is great. Any time you have a captain and leader like that, it just elevates everyone's game and speeds up the development process exponentially. He set the tone every single day last year. He has a genuine ability to lead. He's a leader of men."

On the ice, Strathmann's vision sets him apart.

"He sees the game in a different capacity," Ward said. "He has the ability to hang onto the puck and make plays and see things people just don't see. The way he surveys the ice is second to none. He's a future star in that regard. His poise with the puck is unbelievable. He doesn't put himself in bad situations.

"The biggest struggle he has is people aren't on the same wavelength, but he makes everyone around him that much better. He's an unbelievable kid, an unbelievable leader. (UND) has a lot to look forward to."

Strathmann will be UND's first player from Illinois since brothers Matt and Zach Jones, who both served as alternate captains as seniors. Zach played from 2005-09. Matt played from 2001-05 before embarking on an NHL career.

What drew Strathmann to UND?

"The tradition they have," he said. "When you walk into the rink, you can tell they take pride in what they do. That's a big part of my game. I take pride in what I do. I also talked to a lot of people and it's just a hockey factory. And the facilities there are unbelievable."

The recruitment period for Strathmann opened Jan. 1. That's the date when high school sophomores can begin talking to NCAA teams and taking unofficial visits.

"The best part about Stratty is that he's such a humble kid," Ward said. "He has so much gratitude to be in the position he's in. He was never in a situation where he wasn't thankful to talk to someone, whether it was a so-called 'lower-end school' or a 'higher-end school.' He loved the process and it was something he never took for granted. That's the same way he is as a player. Every time he gets on the ice for practice, skill work or a game, he's grateful to be able to do it."

Strathmann said it was "pretty cool" to be able to commit on the first day of the commitment period.

Strathmann joins Minnesota Wild draft pick Nate Benoit, Muskegon Lumberjacks defender Tyler Dunbar, East Grand Forks Senior High's Trey Ausmus and Chicago Steel blue liner Jake Livanavage as defenseman commits at UND.

Ward said the Fighting Hawks will enjoy having Strathmann in their program.

"He's the type of human being you want in your program," Ward said.

UND committed recruits As of Aug. 1, 2021
Name Birth year Position Hometown Team
Ethan Bowen 2002 F Chilliwack, B.C. Chilliwack (BCHL)
Dane Montgomery 2002 F Grand Forks Penticton (BCHL)
Ben Strinden 2002 F Fargo Muskegon (USHL)
Dylan James 2003 F Calgary Sioux City (USHL)
Jackson Blake 2003 F Eden Prairie, Minn. Chicago (USHL)
Jaksen Panzer 2004 F East Grand Forks East Grand Forks HS
Cole Spicer 2004 F Grand Forks U.S. Under-18 Team
Bowden Singleton 2004 F Calgary Okotoks (AJHL)
Jayden Perron 2005 F Winnipeg Chicago (USHL)
Nate Benoit 2002 D Bow, N.H. Tri-City (USHL)
Tyler Dunbar 2003 D Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Muskegon (USHL)
Trey Ausmus 2004 D East Grand Forks East Grand Forks HS
Jake Livanavage 2004 D Gilbert, Ariz. Chicago (USHL)
Andrew Strathmann 2005 D Beach Park, Ill. Tri-City (USHL)
Hobie Hedquist 2003 G Heron Lake, Minn. Dubuque (USHL)
SOURCE: Grand Forks Herald