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Daily Skate: Brady Ferner to turn pro

The Fighting Hawks will have to dig into the NCAA transfer portal to find an eighth defenseman.

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UND hockey head coach Brady Berry talks to his players from the bench in the first period of a home matchup against Bemidji State on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — There will be one final change to UND's roster for next season.

Defenseman Brady Ferner has informed UND's coaching staff that he is going to sign a professional contract and begin the next phase in his career rather than return for his fifth and final year of college eligibility.

Ferner, who will turn 25 in August, is looking to sign overseas.

That means UND has one more move to make before finalizing its roster for next season.

The Fighting Hawks will need to dig into the NCAA transfer portal to add an eighth and final defenseman.

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They are unlikely to bring in one of their committed recruits — like graduating seniors Tyler Dunbar, Abram Wiebe or Trey Ausmus — because they could use big minutes in junior hockey next season for developmental purposes.

There are currently 43 uncommitted defensemen in the transfer portal, according to the Herald's chart .

UND has four left-shot defensemen and three right-shot blue liners on the roster for next season.

Junior Tyler Kleven, fifth-year senior Chris Jandric, junior Cooper Moore and sophomore Luke Bast are on the left side.

Senior Ethan Frisch, sophomore Brent Johnson and incoming transfer Ty Farmer, a fifth-year senior from UMass, are on the right side.

Ferner, of Dakota Dunes, S.D., came to UND after playing three years at RPI. He was expected to be a depth defenseman, but got thrust into a much larger role because of injuries.

Ferner suited up in 29 of UND's 39 games, registering four assists. He was a steady presence on the back end for a Fighting Hawks team that won the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions for a third-straight season.

In addition to the eight defensemen, UND is expected to carry 16 forwards and three goaltenders next season.

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The 16 forwards are fifth-year senior Mark Senden, fifth-year senior Gavin Hain, senior Judd Caulfield, senior Carson Albrecht, junior Riese Gaber, junior Louis Jamernik, junior Griffin Ness, sophomore Matteo Costantini, sophomore Jackson Kunz, sophomore Jake Schmaltz, sophomore Nick Portz, sophomore Dane Montgomery, freshman Jackson Blake, freshman Owen McLaughlin, freshman Dylan James and freshman Ben Strinden.

The three goaltenders are fifth-year senior Drew DeRidder, sophomore Jakob Hellsten and sophomore Kaleb Johnson.

Three players earn honors

The UND athletic department held its annual awards ceremony at the Empire Arts Center downtown Wednesday.

Three men's hockey players were recognized.

Jake Schmaltz was named the top men's freshman athlete on campus, Mark Senden was named men's unsung hero and Judd Caulfield was named male scholar athlete of the year.

Hedquist goes in USHL draft

Future UND goalie Hobie Hedquist was selected in the first round of the United States Hockey League Phase II Draft this week by the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Hedquist played for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the British Columbia Hockey League this season, posting a .909 save percentage.

Hedquist is familiar with the Sioux Falls area. He played for the Sioux Falls Power program from 2018-20, before moving to the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Hedquist struggled in Dubuque, posting an .831 save percentage during the 2020-21 season.

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The Heron Lake, Minn., product found his game in the BCHL this season, though.

Hedquist is a potential 2022 NHL Draft selection. He was ranked as the No. 27 North American goalie by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau in its final rankings, which were released Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 Hedquist is expected to come to UND in the fall of 2023, replacing DeRidder.

Other notable picks

There were only two local/area players selected in the USHL Phase II Draft.

The Sioux City Musketeers drafted Grand Forks native Cole Spicer in the eighth round and the Fargo Force picked Warroad goalie Hampton Slukynsky in the ninth round.

Spicer is unlikely to report to Sioux City, because he's scheduled to go to Minnesota Duluth this season.

Slukynsky led Warroad to the Minnesota Class A boys state championship game this season. His older brother, Grant, also was a Force draft pick and played two years in Fargo from 2019-21. Grant, a Northern Michigan commit, is with Sioux City right now.

Two current NCAA players were selected in the first round, indicating they'll likely return to junior hockey next season.

Dubuque picked Northeastern forward Ryan St. Louis at No. 12 overall and Green Bay selected Wisconsin defenseman Jake Martin at No. 13. St. Louis and Martin both played at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program together.

BU hires Pandolfo

Boston University named assistant Jay Pandolfo as its next head coach Thursday.

Pandolfo played four years at BU, serving as team captain as a senior. He then embarked on a 15-year NHL career, winning a pair of Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils.

Pandolfo began his coaching career with the Boston Bruins in 2014. After seven seasons, he returned to Boston University to be an assistant under Albie O'Connell last season. O'Connell was fired this spring.

Pandolfo is expected to bring UConn associate coach Joe Pereira back to BU, where Pereira served as team captain during the 2010-11 season.

Once that move becomes finalized, Columbus Blue Jackets scout and former Clarkson associate coach Greg Drechsel is expected to be the top candidate to fill Pereira's spot at UConn.

Spartans choose Nightingale

Michigan State has selected Adam Nightingale as its next head coach.

Nightingale, a Michigan State alum, has coached USA Hockey's National Team Development Program the past two seasons. Before that, he spent three years with the Detroit Red Wings.

Nightingale will be tasked with turning around a Michigan State program that has fallen on hard times. The Spartans have finished in last place in the Big Ten in five of the last six years.

Nightingale will now work to fill out his staff.

The next question is what this means for Grand Forks native Nick Fohr, an assistant coach with the U.S. Under-18 Team under Nightingale.

Fohr has gained a lot of notoriety for his work in developing defensemen — Jake Sanderson being one of them — at the NTDP. He could be in the mix to take over for Nightingale at the NTDP or to join him at Michigan State.

Leaman staying put; Brown to BC?

Providence coach Nate Leaman, who was a candidate for the Boston College job, will stay with the Friars.

Providence announced Thursday that it has signed Leaman to a multi-year extension.

Leaman led the Friars to the 2015 NCAA national championship.

With Leaman no longer a candidate for the Boston College job, that puts all attention on Greg Brown as the top candidate.

Brown, a former Boston College captain, served as an assistant under the retiring Jerry York from 2004-18. He was the associate head coach for his last six years at BC.

In 2018, Brown left Boston College to become an assistant coach with the New York Rangers. He spent three years with the Rangers, then coached Dubuque in the USHL this season.

Boston College is the only open head coaching spot right now in Division-I men's college hockey.

Illinois ends D-I hockey pursuit

The University of Illinois announced this week it has ended its pursuit of adding a Division-I men's hockey program.

The Fighting Illini were believed to be close when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

Illinois would have given the Big Ten an even eight teams. Instead, the Big Ten remains at seven, including one affiliate member in Notre Dame.

Quick hits

  • Former UND forward Nick Jones is the final American Hockey League player of the week for the season. Jones tallied two goals and five points in two games for the Manitoba Moose last week. Jones finished the regular season with 12 goals and 34 points in 60 games for the Moose, who are the top minor-league affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.
  • T.J. Oshie became the first former UND player to score in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year when he buried the game-winner for the Washington Capitals in the third period of Game 1 against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers responded to win Game 2 on Thursday. The series is tied 1-1.
  • Former UND defenseman Derek Forbort of the Boston Bruins was fined $5,000 for high-sticking Carolina Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series. Carolina leads the series 2-0.
  • USA announced its Men's World Championship roster for the event that will be held May 13-29 in Finland. No UND players are on it. Sanderson likely would have if not for his hand injury.
  • The Green Bay Gamblers hired Miami director of hockey operations Jimmy Spratt as their new assistant coach.
Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
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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