Recently, I wrote about the University of North Dakota hockey team’s changing recruiting philosophy. Not only will UND focusing on the high-end players that are drafted, but they’re also getting commitments from talented, older players to supplement their roster. These are players that haven’t been drafted by NHL teams. They may be players at the end of their junior eligibility that have flown under the radar.
Who knows, maybe the next diamond in the rough could be one of these older less heralded players. That recruiting philosophy might have paid off.
Back in January, while scouting the SJHL-MJHL Showcase, the UND coaching staff discovered a player that fits that description.
The player in question? Carson Albrecht of the Melfort Mustangs, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. After his performance at SJHL-MJHL Showcase, Albrecht started getting phone calls from Division I hockey programs. One of these calls came from the UND coaching staff. After watching the SJHL-MJHL Showcase, UND head coach Brad Berry liked what he saw and called Albrecht’s coach.
Albrecht was offered a spot on the 2019-2020 roster and he accepted. According to Albrecht’s coach, it’s not a hard decision.
“When North Dakota called, I mean that’s a no-brainer,” Melfort Mustangs head coach said. “That’s a fantastic school, a division one school, an opportunity for a Saskatchewan boy to get to.
“What they’re seeing in him was exactly what we saw, the qualities of him on the ice. It’s just his compete, his work ethic. And not only can he put up points, but just the fact that he’s so responsible for 200 feet of the ice is what makes him a special player.”
Since announcing his commitment to UND, Albrecht (33g-54a—87pts) has been red hot. He’s scored five goals and 13 points and went from third overall in points to second. In the past eight games, he has six multi-point games. On Wednesday, he’s was named the RBC Player of The Year.
One of the first questions fans will ask, how does the SJHL compare to the other junior hockey leagues?
“It’s like a lot of other leagues, I guess,” Albrecht said. “There’re definitely some skilled players throughout the league on each team, I haven’t been in any other league so I don’t personally… I hear it’s like most leagues, there’s a lot more hitting. Maybe not as much skill, throughout the league.”
Albrecht plans to come in during the summer and get to know his new teammates. Albrecht may also take a few classes during the summer session.
What is Albrecht’s field of study going to be when he gets to UND?
“I would like to study biochemistry, but UND doesn’t offer a major in that so I’m studying biology,” Albrecht said.
Historically, UND hasn’t had a lot of players from the SJHL. Recently, there have been a few, current goalie coach Matt Hrnkiw, Humboldt Broncos. sophomore defenseman Josh Rieger, Estevan Broncos, former defenseman Dany Chartrand, Flin Flon Bombers.