Alaska captain Garrett Pyke commits to UND
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman came close to leading the Nanooks to the NCAA tournament this season.
GRAND FORKS — UND has added one of the top defensemen from the NCAA transfer portal.
Alaska captain Garrett Pyke, who nearly led the Nanooks to a surprising NCAA tournament appearance this season, committed to the Fighting Hawks on Thursday. Pyke will have one year of college eligibility remaining.
"I'm excited," Pyke said. "Obviously, it's a program in college that everyone is familiar with. It's a great team, a great coaching staff. To be a part of it, it's a good feeling."
Pyke, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound left-handed blue liner, posted identical numbers in his final two seasons with Alaska — 34 games, four goals, 19 points. He also registered a team-high plus-14.
Pyke figures to be a big piece for UND in 2023-24.
The Fighting Hawks will be turning over their entire defensive unit and bringing aboard eight new players.
"I think it's a big opportunity," Pyke said. "There's a little change in the defensemen. I'll be able to step in, and I want to be able to contribute right away. I want to be the guy. We also have a great freshman class coming in. I think they're going to play a big role as well. There are some top returning guys at forward. I'm excited for this team. We've got some big things ahead of us."
Pyke played the No. 1 defenseman role in Alaska, averaging a team-high 23:06 per game.
He played on the power play both at the top of the zone and in the right circle.
"I think I'm most effective and most comfortable at the top," Pyke said. "That's probably the best spot for me."
Pyke, who is from Toronto, was initially recruited out of junior hockey by Alaska and Atlantic Hockey schools.
He picked the Nanooks and tallied three assists in 2019-20 as a freshman. Alaska did not play in 2020-21 because of the coronavirus pandemic. He returned to play in 2021-22 and 2022-23, nearly leading the Nanooks to the NCAA tournament this season. Colgate's upset over Harvard in the ECAC title game kept the Nanooks out.
"It really was a great season," Pyke said. "I don't think many people expected us to be a contender. We had a really good team, a bunch of older guys, veteran guys. The season we had was incredible. We had some big wins. It was fun to be a part of."
Pyke went into the transfer portal after the season.
"We had a list of teams we were hoping for," Pyke said. "North Dakota was at the top of the list."
Pyke visited UND this week.
"I was really impressed," he said. "I had seen photos of the facilities and the rink — that speaks for itself — but I was surprised at how nice the campus is. I was really impressed with it."
Pyke is not the first Alaska defenseman to transfer to UND.
Two years ago, the Fighting Hawks got Chris Jandric out of the portal. Jandric played two years at UND, earning first-team all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference honors this season.
Jandric and Pyke were teammates in 2019-20.
"I spoke to Chris," Pyke said. "Obviously, we were teammates in Fairbanks. He did well in Grand Forks and he had nothing but good things to say."