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UND hockey prospect notes: Emerson shows versatility in All-American Game

The Chicago Steel forward had an assist in the showcase for NHL Draft-eligible Americans.

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Chicago Steel forward Michael Emerson carries the puck up the ice in a game at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Chicago Steel
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GRAND FORKS — Michael Emerson had an excellent scoring chance Monday afternoon in the BioSteel All-American Game.

The UND commit was bearing down on the right side of the crease with the goaltender squared up.

But Emerson didn't shoot. He slipped a pass backdoor and Denver commit Zeev Buium had a tap-in for the goal.

That assist highlighted Emerson's performance, which had to please the Fighting Hawks coaching staff.

Here are a few notes and observations on Emerson and defenseman Andrew Strathmann, the two UND recruits who competed in the showcase for NHL Draft-eligible Americans from the United States Hockey League and the U.S. Under-18 Team.

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1. Michael Emerson

UND added Emerson to its recruiting list last month, and it appears he's going to be an excellent fit.

The 6-foot-1, 197-pound forward from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., plays like a power forward — always going to the net.

He showed a variety of attributes in the game, too.

He showed his vision by setting up Buium for the tap-in goal.

He showed an excellent shot when he snapped one from beyond the dots that beat the opposing goalie clean only to hit the crossbar.

He showed great speed by torching a defenseman on the left wing on a rush.

But he also plays a hard, two-way, reliable game — he was routinely the third forward high in the defensive zone — which is much needed for UND considering it will lose Gavin Hain and Mark Senden in the offseason.

Hain and Senden have changed games for five years with the way they defend and with their physicality.

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Emerson, who has a bit of Dylan James and Ben Strinden in his game, can help replace some of what they're losing.

2. Andrew Strathmann

Strathmann played on Emerson's team and quarterbacked the first power-play unit.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound defenseman has high-end offensive attributes.

He's an excellent skater, which allows him to win puck races. He moves the puck well. He's good at jumping into spaces in the offensive zone for scoring opportunities.

But he's also going to need to improve his defensive game and learn to jump at the right times.

Strathmann often freely roamed the offensive zone. In the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, he's going to have to be more selective about when he leaves his defensive post and joins the attack or the puck will go the other way — as it did a couple times in the All-American Game.

Trying to outscore defensive issues doesn't work at the Division-I college level, something the Fighting Hawks know all too well from this season.

If Strathmann can grow on the defensive side of the game and add some strength to win puck battles, he has potential to be an excellent blue liner at UND, because the skating, the shooting and the skill level are all there.

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3. Jake Livanavage

UND commit Jake Livanavage was selected to play in the All-American Game, but had to withdraw because he's battling an injury.

It was an unfortunate setback for the Chicago Steel defenseman.

Livanavage went undrafted last year, but will be eligible again this summer before he begins his UND career in the fall.

McInnis nears return

UND commit Keith McInnis of the Waterloo Black Hawks sustained an injury just four games into the USHL season.

He has not played since.

But McInnis is nearing a return.

The blue liner has been medically cleared to return to game action. It could happen as early as Friday, when Waterloo takes on the Chicago Steel.

McInnis is one of three 2006-born UND commits. The others are forwards Mac Swanson of the Fargo Force and Sacha Boisvert of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Outside of U.S. Under-17 Team players, Swanson and Boisvert rank 2-3 among 2006-born scorers in the USHL, only behind the potential top pick of the 2024 NHL Draft Macklin Celebrini, who is headed to Boston University.

Quick hits

  • On Sunday, UND defenseman commit Abram Wiebe of the Chilliwack Chiefs extended his point streak to nine games. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound Vegas Golden Knights draft pick is the top defenseman scorer in the British Columbia Hockey League.
  • The USHL's Youngstown Phantoms signed forward Zachary Morin to a tender Tuesday. Morin is expected to be one of the most sought-after recruits on Aug. 1, which is the first day schools can officially offer him a scholarship and the first day he can commit.

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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