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Longtime UND sports info director Jayson Hajdu re-joins college hockey world

Hajdu, who worked in Grand Forks for 23 years, is the new director of communication for College Hockey Inc.

Jayson Hajdu (right) walks on the red carpet with UND assistant coach Karl Goehring at the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four.

Jayson Hajdu spent 23 years in UND's sports information office.

His work with the hockey programs was most noted: He was the first women's hockey sports info director at the school and led the men's hockey media relations efforts for a decade-plus.

Hajdu left UND in December 2018 for a family opportunity in Kansas City, but now, he's returning to the college hockey world in a prominent position.

Hajdu, a UND graduate, was named the director of communications for College Hockey Inc., which oversees educational and promotional efforts for all of Division-I men's college hockey. He will replace Nate Ewell, who left for a job with the Vegas Golden Knights.

"Jayson's professional experience and personal passion for all things college hockey make him an ideal addition to College Hockey Inc.," said Mike Snee, executive director. "There were many attractive and qualified candidates that expressed interest in joining College Hockey Inc., but Jayson clearly stood out."


Hajdu will start on Nov. 15 and will continue to be based in the Kansas City area.

"I could not be more honored — and eager — to join College Hockey Inc.," Hajdu said. "College hockey is my passion, and I believe in the mission of College Hockey Inc. Nate Ewell leaves behind incredibly big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to building upon the tremendous foundation he cultivated over the past decade."

Hajdu will be responsible for digital media, media relations and communication efforts, many of the same tasks he held at UND, where he began as a student in 1995. His college hockey work went beyond just UND, though.

He helped coordinate a Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Faceoff at Ralph Engelstad Arena, NCAA men's regionals in Fargo's Scheels Arena and the NCAA hired him to work Frozen Fours when UND was not a participating team.

"College Hockey Inc. made the perfect selection in hiring Jayson Hajdu as its Director of Communications," said Mark Bedics of the NCAA. "In my 20 years as the media coordinator for the Men’s Frozen Four, Jayson was one of the best sports information directors I ever had the pleasure to work with. He is extremely professional and personable, and you won’t find a harder worker or a person more respected by the media, players or coaches."

National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Josh Fenton, a College Hockey Inc., board member, and Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol, a former board member, both gave Hajdu positive recommendations.

"Jayson’s passion for college hockey and for the players who play the game make him an outstanding fit for this position," Hakstol said. "With his depth of knowledge and experience, he will be a tremendous addition to the staff at College Hockey Inc."

College Hockey Inc., has been on the front lines of the battle to keep top players in college hockey instead of opting to play Canadian major juniors.


In the four-year span between 2010-13 when College Hockey Inc., was getting up and running, 16 of 24 Americans taken in the first round of the NHL Draft played in Canadian major juniors (67 percent).

In the most recent four-year span (2018-21), roughly the same number of American players were drafted in the first round (23), but not a single one has played Canadian major juniors. All but Jack Hughes — who went straight from the U.S. Under-18 Team to the NHL — played college hockey or are currently in college.

College hockey players now make up roughly 33 percent of NHLers, the highest percentage ever. That number was at 20 percent in 2000. A record 327 college hockey players suited up in the last full NHL season (2018-19).

The sport also has been expanding.

When College Hockey Inc., formed, there were 58 Division-I men's teams. That number has increased — even if Alabama Huntsville and Robert Morris are unable to bring their programs back from hiatus — because of the additions of Penn State, Arizona State, Long Island University and St. Thomas.

Other schools such as Lindenwood (Mo.) and Augustana (S.D.) have announced their intentions of starting D-I programs. Illinois, Navy and Tennessee State are exploring the idea of adding the sport.

College Hockey Inc., has assisted many of these schools in their efforts to add D-I programs.

"The college hockey community is excited to welcome Jayson Hajdu to the Director of Communications position for College Hockey Inc.," Fenton said. "Jayson’s expertise in communications and media, along with the many years of experiences working in the sport, make him an excellent person to take over this role."



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