Men's hockey: N.C. native commits to Sioux
Not often do college recruiters turn their attention to North Carolina. That all changed after Charlie Pelnik's impressive performance at a USA Hockey festival this summer. Pelnik, a 15-year-old standout from Cary, N.C., made visits to Minnesota,...
Not often do college recruiters turn their attention to North Carolina.
That all changed after Charlie Pelnik's impressive performance at a USA Hockey festival this summer.
Pelnik, a 15-year-old standout from Cary, N.C., made visits to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan, Boston University, Merrimack and Northeastern before deciding to commit to UND last week.
The 6-foot-4, 183-pound two-way defenseman -- one of the program's youngest recruits ever -- is expected to arrive on campus in 2013 as the program's first North Carolina native.
"The coaches are definitely the biggest deciding factor on why I chose North Dakota," Pelnik said. "They are hands down just great, great coaches and great people. They were great players and I think I'm going to learn a lot from them."
Pelnik plays for the Carolina Junior Hurricanes, a AAA midget major program coached by former Wisconsin defenseman Steve Sabo. Pelnik has been with the program for the last six years, traveling the country to take on top competition.
He didn't get any college attention until this summer, though.
Pelnik was expected to be a high draft pick in the Ontario Hockey League draft this year, but he said he decided 100 percent that he's going to college instead. He made his visit to UND over Thanksgiving weekend when the Sioux hosted Notre Dame.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable," he said. "The fact that they sold out even with the students not in school at the time. . . that was great."
Growing up in North Carolina, Pelnik became familiar with another former Sioux defenseman, Mike Commodore.
Commodore helped the Carolina Hurricanes win a Stanley Cup in 2006.
"He had his hair going and he was well known in the organization as a funny person," Pelnik said. "He was an entertaining player."