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UND hockey team hosting one of the world's top hockey prospects on recruiting visit

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UND hockey fans file into Ralph Engelstad Arena for the final regular-season hockey game against Western Michigan Saturday night in Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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As the sporting world came to a halt Thursday because of the spread of the coronavirus, a significant event was just beginning in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

A hockey prospect walked into the venue with his parents for his recruiting visit.

It wasn't just anyone.

It was Adam Fantilli, who is one of the best prospects in the world.

Fantilli is a 6-foot-2, 181-pound forward from Toronto. He's just 15 years old and is currently playing at Kimball Union Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire. Earlier this season, he was the subject of a story in The Hockey News .


Fantilli is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's Ontario Hockey League Draft, according to Prospect Pipeline . It is rare to have top major junior prospects play college hockey.

In fact, only one No. 1 overall pick in one of the Canadian Hockey League's three major junior leagues -- the Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and OHL -- has ever played college hockey.

That was Jonathan Toews, who attended UND for two seasons from 2005-07 instead of playing for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.

Toews has gone on to win three Stanley Cups as the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada and is the youngest-ever member of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, World Championship gold).

Toews also won two World Junior Championship gold medals while he was at UND.

While Fantilli is only 15, scouts are predicting he could be by the top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Consider that recent No. 1 OHL picks include top NHL picks Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid.

Fantilli "has eye-popping offensive skills, shoots the puck a ton and plays an impressive physical game," according to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

He has 18 goals and 36 points in 25 games at Kimball Union Academy, while playing with guys as much as four years older than him.


Fantilli has an older brother, Luca, who also plays for Kimball Union Academy. Luca is a defenseman, who committed to Michigan. Luca has also been drafted by the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League.

If Fantilli comes to UND, it is unclear when he would arrive. UND coaches cannot comment on recruits before they sign National Letters of Intent.

The Fighting Hawks have several high-end prospects lined up to come in the next few seasons, including potential top-10 draft pick Jake Sanderson, who will be on campus in the fall.

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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