UND Loses Another Top Recruit To Major Juniors

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UND loses another top recruit to major juniors

For the second time in seven months, the UND men’s hockey team is losing one of the country’s most coveted recruits to Canadian major juniors.

Stefan Matteau, the leading scorer on the U.S. Under-18 team, used his Twitter account to announce Tuesday that he will play for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League instead of at UND next season.

“My decision is final,” Matteau wrote.

Matteau’s father is an assistant coach for Blainville-Boisbriand, which acquired Matteau’s rights Saturday through a trade.

Matteau originally committed to UND in October 2010, saying he chose UND over the QMJHL, Michigan and Michigan State. He signed his National Letter of Intent in November, but never closed the door on going to major juniors.

Matteau could go as high as the first round in June’s NHL draft.

Last July, UND lost forward J.T. Miller — a first-round pick of the New York Rangers — to the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. Miller would have been the third-highest drafted forward to suit up for UND.

Soon after Miller left, Matteau started flirting with the QMJHL, but decided to come back for his second season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Matteau has had a breakout season, compiling a team-leading 23 points in 30 games.

Matteau is the fifth player from the NTDP to back out on a college commitment and opt for major juniors in the last seven months. It’s a trend College Hockey Inc., is hoping to stop in future years.

Paul Kelly, the executive director of College Hockey Inc., is working with USA Hockey and the NHL to enact some sort of legislation to block players who have signed letters of intent from going to major juniors until after their freshman seasons.

The NHL sends a significant amount of money to the major junior teams annually and could have influence. Otherwise, if colleges officially become affiliated with USA Hockey, it could block moves to major juniors with a transfer agreement with Hockey Canada.

A current transfer agreement is in place with the United States Hockey League and major juniors but not colleges.

Both Miller and Matteau had signed letters of intent.

UND recruit Miles Koules, also a forward on the U.S. Under-18 team, had his Western Hockey League rights traded from the Everett Silvertips to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday, signaling that the Tigers believe Koules can be lured away from UND, too.

Koules said Tuesday that he remains committed to UND and will make his official visit in two weeks.

MacMillan joins brother

UND officially added Mitch MacMillan, the older brother of UND freshman forward Mark MacMillan, to the roster Tuesday.

Mitch played a year and a half at St. Cloud State but decided to transfer during Christmastime. He will begin practicing with the team immediately but will not be eligible to play until next January.

He will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning then.

Mitch had five assists in 14 games this season. He had four goals and two assists in 28 games as a freshman.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

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