No Days Off…

Force assistant and chief scout Jesse Davis said Wednesday night via text message it is “very possible” St. Paul Johnson forward Jay Dickman would join the team this weekend.

Dickman and St. Paul Johnson were eliminated from the Minnesota high school hockey playoffs Wednesday night following a 7-3 loss to Rosemount. St. Paul Johnson, a No. 7 seed, opened the playoffs by upsetting White Bear Lake, a No. 2 seed.

Should Dickman be available for the weekend, he would be making his debut against the Waterloo Black Hawks which come to Scheels Arena for a two-game series, which starts Friday.

Dickman was signed as a high school free agent by the Force on the last day of the USHL Trade Deadline in Feburary. In adding Dickman, the Force are hoping he can replicate what he did for the Governors this past season.

The 6-5, 228-pound Dickman had one of the best seasons in Minnesota this year. He scored 65 points in the regular season scoring 44 goals, the most of any player in Class 2A this season.

Dickman continued his strong run into the playoffs. He had four points – including the game-winning goal – in St. Paul Johnson’s win over White Bear Lake to open the playoffs.

He had another solid game Wednesday in what turned out to be his finale scorring a goal and two assists. Dickman’s strong season has led many to believe he could be selected in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Should Dickman play this weekend, it could help soften the blow of an offense missing leading scorer Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth). Farley has been out since mid-February with a foot injury and has been projected to return to the lineup next weekend.

Farley, who is no longer in a walking boot, stated on Twitter on Wednesday he returned to the ice for practice for the first time since losing the walking boot.

Dickman’s arrival also means the Force will more than likely keep him for nex season. Dickman had to play in at least 10 games with the team for him to become a protected player and not be eligible for the upcoming USHL Entry Draft.

The Force have 15 games left this season before starting what could be their fourth straight playoff run.

Dickman was just one of many Minnesota high school stars to have their season end Wednesday. Minnetonka was eliminated by Benilde-St. Margaret’s meaning forward Vinni Lettieri (Minnesota) will be joining the Lincoln Stars. His teammate, Sam Rothstein, will join the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Rothstein signed with Sioux Falls at the trade deadline.
The first big name Minnesota prep star to come to the USHL during these playoffs was Grand Rapids defenseman Jake Bischoff (Minnesota), whose team was eliminated in the first round.
Bischoff made his USHL debut Friday with the Omaha Lancers in a 4-1 at Fargo.

El Burrito de Belén…

When Force forward Bryn Chyzyk said he was going to accept food, he wasn’t joking.

Chyzyk (North Dakota) drafted teammate Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan) on Tuesday for the team’s upcoming skills competition on Sunday. The draft was held after practice and the teams where chosen by Chyzyk and Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth).

Chyzyk chose Hargrove with his second pick and then shipped him to Farley’s team in exchange for Willie Corrin (Minnesota-Duluth) and a Qdoba burrito. Yep. You read that right. Hargrove was traded for a burrito.

“You know, me and Farley have some creative minds,” Chyzyk said about the trade. “We tossed it around in our heads and I decided to pull the trigger.”

Don’t worry. Chyzyk will not have to worry about trading a side order of nachos at a later date or anything like that.

He and Farley, who are close friends, actually know what one another order from Qdoba so Chyzyk knows what to expect.

Chyzyk, who was tongue-in-cheek during most of the interview, did joke about explaining to Hargrove why he did trade him.

“We shook his hand and told him we hope for the best,” Chyzyk said. “We told him there were no hard feelings. Now let’s see if he gives me the puck on Friday.”

Trading Hargrove, who is from Texas, for a burrito was only part of the story of the draft. Force spokeswoman Whitney Baumgartner said Corrin showed up to the draft wearing sweat paints but had a suit jacket on treating it as if this was an actual draft.

Baumgartner and Chyzyk both said Corrin showed up stating how he was going to be the No. 1 pick, or at least a first-rounder. Corrin was taken second by Farley before being traded for Hargrove and the burrito.

“Oh, he thought he was going first and that’s because he’s the oldest guy on the team,” Chyzyk said. “He’s starting to lose his hair and he needs a wheelchair. The old guy did look good today.”

He then joked about how he didn’t know if Corrin was worth a burrito but he’ll find out on Sunday.

The first overall pick of the draft belonged to Farley and he selected first-year forward Alex Iafallo (Minnesota-Duluth), who has scored 22 points this season and is fourth on the team in points while defenseman Taylor Richart was the draft’s second overall pick.

Chyzyk said he was pleased with how the draft went and said Nate Arentz, who he drafted, could be the skills challenge sleeper to watch.

“He’s an underrated guy on the team,” said Chyzyk, who actually took Arentz with his third pick. “I feel like he’s going to wipe up in the fastest skater competition just from looking at the things he’s done in practice.”

Though there is one thing to note about the draft.

Defensemen Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha) and Justin Wade (Notre Dame) were the last two players taken in the draft.

Isn’t it kind of weird that the two guys who could get taken in this summer’s NHL Draft were chosen last?

“It is a little bit of a coincidence I would say,” Chyzyk said. “They are a couple of defensive-minded guys in an offensive game but I am glad we got Cooper in the last round. I think he could win the hardest shot competition.”

Below are a list of the teams:

Team Chyzyk: Chyzyk, Richart, Arentz, Reed Peters, Jonny Brodzinski (St. Cloud State), Taylor Fleming, Nick Stoskopf, David Mead, Pavel Zykov, Cooper.

Team Farley: Farley, Hargrove, Gabe Guertler (Minnesota), Zane Gothberg (North Dakota), Dave Gust, Neal Goff, Jordan Nelson, Dominic Racobaldo, Stanislav Dzakhov, Wade.

Bounce With Me…

There’s no denying Moorhead’s Thomas Carey had a game-changing performance Saturday scoring three points in his team’s 3-0 win over Roseau in the Class 2A, Section 8 semifinals.

Carey scored a late goal in the second period breaking a scoreless tie. He then added two more assists in the third period sending the Spuds to the Section 8AA finals where they will face Brainerd on Thursday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.

Much has been made of Carey’s game, but don’t forget Moorhead’s defense. Roseau opened the game with 10 shots in the first period but were then limited to eight shots over the next two periods.

“Not only the defense, but the forwards helped us out with backchecking,” said Spuds senior defenseman Terry Leabo. “We just tried to play the body, angling them to the boards and having the forwards pick up guys in the slot.”

Leabo and defensive partner, Ben Welle, said the key to beating Roseau was staying in front of their forwards.

Roseau’s forwards are led by Alex Strand, a shifty sophomore who already has several colleges interested in him.

Leabo and Welle said Moorhead coach Dave Morinville told his entire defense to stay in front of Strand and the rest of Roseau’s forwards. Staying in front, Leabo and Welle said, allowed the Spuds’ defense to dictate where the Rams could move on the ice leading to a lot of long range shots and easy saves for goaltender Michael Bitzer.

“We knew that Roseau with Strand and (Alex) Yon, we knew they like to beat people one-on-one so it was important to take the body,” Welle said. “Its kind of hard but you have to watch their body and not focus on the puck. When you focus on the puck, it allows you to get burned.”

Executing the strategy almost made Bitzer a non-factor, which is a far cry from last season’s team.

Moorhead reached last season’s state tournament because of how Bitzer played. He was relied upon and during last year’s postseason run made 58 saves on 61 shots to help Moorhead make its way to the Xcel Energy Center.

Bitzer made 25 saves in last season’s section semifinal win over Roseau.

Yet through two games this season, he’s made whopping grand total of 25 saves altogether. Throw in the lack of shots plus not playing in the third period of Moorhead’s opening round win and he’s received a lot more rest than he ever did last season.

“I’m not surprised,” Bitzer said about his recent lack of work. “I feel like when we come into a game really focused and focus our attention on a team, we are one of the best teams in the state.”

Morinville added Bitzer’s night could have actually been easier.

He said many of Roseau’s shots in the first period came due to Moorhead turning over the puck. Moorhead did have its moments where an errant pass among other things resulted into Roseau getting more puck possession.

“We knew we were going to have to play it tight and with the adjustments we made, I think we just realized we had to go out and pick up people,” said Morinville, who has now won five straight over rival Roseau. “We also had our forwards take accountability and not let our defense hang out to dry. I think when you look at our depth at this time of year, it’s a nice thing to have.”

Pick Me…

A little bit later today the Fargo Force will have their draft for Sunday’s skills challenge.

Forwards Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota) and Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) were named captains for the event after they were chosen by fans to lead the teams.

With leadership comes responsibility and the chance to talk some strategy. Chyzyk said Monday night he’s been thinking about who to choose and he gave a bit of a hint who he might go with.

“I’ve already told guys I am accepting bribes,” Chyzyk said. “Those who want to buy me a few free meals at Noodles and Company or Qdoba will only increase their chances of me picking them.”

Chyzyk said he and Farley, who are linemates and close friends, said they’ve talked about how nice it is to be chosen by fans to lead the team. Fans selected the two by voting via Twitter, Facebook and through the team’s website.

They also got a laugh out of their current situations. Chyzyk and Farley were sitting in a suite during Friday’s game when it was announced they were named as captains.

Chyzyk missed last weekend’s series after falling into the boards and suffering a bit of an injury above his left eye two weeks ago. Farley has been out since early February with a foot injury. He was walking around without a boot last week but is expected to be out until March  10.

“You know, we haven’t discussed it,” Chyzyk said about he and Farley participating in the competition. “Me and Austin are in different scenarios when it comes to our injuries. But I think I should be able to participate. I’ll have to check with our trainer but I am 90 percent sure I will participate.”

Chyzyk said he’s had some teammates plead with him to be on his team while others have just threatened him.

Either way, he is taking everyone’s concerns into consideration.

Chyzyk said the important thing about an event like this is picking the right group of players. This is where Chyzyk became really serious about a piece of strategy he’s looking at employing.

“I might take (goaltenders Zane Gothberg and Reed Peters) with my first two picks,” Chyzyk said. “That’ll really screw Farley over. He might have to pick (Colton) Hargrove and put him in net or something.”

Chyzyk said quite a few players on the team are excited about the event because it gives everyone a chance to really know how is the team’s fastest skater or who does have the hardest shot.

There are times after practice where players will have a mini-competition to see who can outdo who, but having it on a larger scale in front of fans should settle whatever questions any players might have about individual skills.

He added the hardest part about choosing a team is there are certain players who could come out of nowhere to be a surprise in a certain category. For example, he mentioned how there might be a defenseman on the team who could be the fastest skater but may never get a chance to show it off during a game.

“I am a little worried about the accuracy part because a guy like (Jonny) Brodzinski and Farley are really good at that so I have to be careful,” he said. “But the breakaway is going to be fun. There have been some guys doing some outrageous moves in practice. It should be a lot of fun.”

Carry On Wayward Son…

Former Moorhead star Brian Lee was traded this afternoon from the Ottawa Senators to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for former Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy.

Lee, 24, was selected by the Senators with the tenth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Lee played 12 games of junior hockey with the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League before playing college hockey at North Dakota. Lee left North Dakota after two seasons going pro joining the Senators on a full-time basis in the 2008-09 season.

The former Minnesota Mr. Hockey award winner played 53 games with the Senators scoring a career-high 13 points in his first season. Since then, Lee fell on hard times with the club. Roster shuffles and coaching changes among other things saw Lee fall further down the pecking order.

Lee played in 50 games last season but wasn’t getting a lot of playing time and often found himself a healthy scratch.

This year, Lee has scored eight points in 35 games with the Senators, who are second in the Northeast Division and currently sits seventh in the Eastern Conference standings in the hopes of making the playoffs.

Despite his contributions, Lee was in a tough position when it came to fighting for minutes this season. Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson is having one of the seasons in the NHL leading all league defensemen in scoring with 65 points in 63 games. Karlsson’s season coupled with experienced veterans and the emergence of Jared Cowan, the team’s first-round pick in 2009, meant Lee was the odd man out.

Lee will head to Tampa Bay, which six points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay, however, is also going through a bit of an injury crisis with hits defense. Three of the team’s defenseman are injured including former first-round pick Victor Hedman.

Injuries have opened up spots on the Lighting’s young blueline meaning Lee could get a chance at getting more minutes and cementing himself in a team’s lineup. Joining Tampa Bay means Lee will be playing alongside NHL stars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.

He’ll also be joined by another former North Dakota hockey star in defenseman Mike Commodore. Commodore was also traded to Tampa Bay today by the Detroit Red Wings in the hopes of adding another body and experience to the team.

The earliest Lee could debut with his new team could come tomorrow when Tampa Bay hosts Montreal.

Americana…

In today’s Forum we had a story on Fargo Force defenseman Justin Wade (Notre Dame) and how he’s an example of the growing number of black players in the USHL.

Wade, 17, is one of ten black players to play in the league at some point this season. He along with Force head coach John Marks said issues such as geography and income play a large role in why there are not more black players involved with the game.

Then Marks and Force chief scout Jesse Davis were also asked if having a visible black figure from the United States would grow the game.

“Being that I grew up in Detroit where I played, I probably played with and against more black hockey players than most in other places,” Davis said. “I didn’t see the growth until now where I see kids like (NTDP defenseman) Seth Jones and the kids coming out of California.”

Jones, who is eligible for the NHL Draft next season, is being projected as a Top 3 pick in many circles. Should Jones be taken in the Top 3, it’d be the highest an American-born black player has ever been selected in the NHL Draft. New York Islanders forward and former Minnesota star, Kyle Okposo, currently holds the honor having been taken seventh in 2006.

The growth has already made its way to Canada with Marks and Davis both pointing out the NHL has had stars such as Grant Fuhr and current star Jarome Iginla, who are both black.

In Canada the trend continues with players such as Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban, whose parents are Jamaican, emerging into a league star. Subban’s younger brother, Jordan, was part of last season’s historic OHL Draft that had four black players selected in the first round.

But how can Canada’s successful yet growing model be used in the United States?

“If you had a black kid that was (NHL star Sidney) Crosby, from wherever in the United States I think it’d be a big impact,” Marks said. “I think it would and it’d be a great impact for sure. With Tiger Woods, the thing he did was start these foundations so that those who couldn’t afford it are getting the opportunities. You are starting to see a couple other young kids who are product of the First Tee Foundation come up now.”

Davis made a point using the Olympics. He said most European nations such as Finland, Russia and Sweden have their country’s best athletes on the ice when it comes to hockey.

Yet in America, he said the nation doesn’t have its best athletes on the ice but if Miami Heat star LeBron James could skate, Davis said, he would be the best player in the NHL.

Davis then followed by saying there are good athletes out there but there are many who just can’t afford it.

As was written in the print story, it all comes back to money. Davis and Marks each went back to how if hockey was more affordable, we would see an influx of black players in the game.

“There are some midget teams where ice time alone is $10,000 to $15,000 throughout the year,” Davis said. “That’s not including equipment, tournament fees or parents traveling with the team to play in tournaments.”

Marks echoed Davis’ sentiments.

“I hate to put it this way, but until they find a way to subsidize hockey for youths in the south, you’ll see a predominantly white league,” said Marks, who coached most of his career in the ECHL, which has had a number of southern markets. “It is expensive and in the southern part of our United States having been down in the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, it is baseball, football and basketball.”

Distance…

Once again, Jimmy Murray (St. Cloud State) found a way to terrorize his old team, scoring a goal and two assists helping Omaha beat Fargo 4-1 on Friday night.

Once again, it was brought up: How did the Force let a player like Murray leave and have him turn into one of the league’s best players? Murray and Force assistant Byron Pool said it was a mutual decision for him to leave.

“I just think this year I’ve gotten more of a chance and play a lot bigger role on this team,” Murray said after the game.

Murray said getting more opportunities is why he wanted to leave Fargo. Murray opened last season with the Force and played in 33 games but felt he wasn’t in the right situation to showcase what he could do.

It led to him being traded last season at the USHL Trade Deadline to the North American Hockey League. He was still the Force’s property but when the USHL Entry Draft came around, he was traded to Omaha for the rights of A.J. Reid (Army).

Reid, however, is no longer with the team, while Murray has 11 points in seven games against the Force.

“Yeah, I think its unfortunate maybe,” he said about the trade. “Last year was a tough year for me but the coach here (Jason Herter) last year knew I didn’t want to come back. I did, but Omaha called me and put an opportunity in front of me playing big minutes and being the No. 1 or No. 2 center and I figured it was too good of a shot to pass up.”

Murray, who has 53 points in 45 games, showed what he could do Friday night when he used his speed to race end-to-end on the penalty kill, scoring the game’s first goal. Murray then used his vision and balance by feeding a pass as he was falling down to set up the game’s second goal. He struck again late in the third setting up a power play goal on a 5-on-3.

There was more. Murray was on 1-on-2 and used a toe drag to beat shutdown defenseman Justin Wade (Notre Dame) in a way no one has done all season to the 6-2, 210 pound physical blueliner.

Pool, who is in his second year with the Force, said there a lot of things that came into play when it came to Murray.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think he would be the player he is if he had stayed here,” Pool said. “I think there was some holes in his game. He didn’t take his conditioning seriously and there were times where his attitude wasn’t always great. When he got sent to Texas (NAHL), he realized how much he wanted to be in this league. I love the kid. I loved having him around the rink but I think it’s the kind of situation where it needed to happen for the player to become the player he is today.”

Pool added trading Murray might draw the ire of fans who wondered how the organization could trade away a player who is the league’s assists king and the USHL’s third-leading scorer.

He said sometimes trades can happen when a player feels they could be better off somewhere else.

Pool used former Force forward Joe Rehkamp and defenseman Brandon Carlson as examples. He said Rehkamp (now at St. Cloud State) told the coaching staff he believed he was a Top-6 forward and was told he wouldn’t be guaranteed Top-6 ice time.

Rehkamp was traded to Waterloo and played well enough for St. Cloud State to bring him in mid-year to resolve an injury crisis.

Carlson was traded to Fairbanks (NAHL) last season and, like Murray, the Force held onto his rights. Carlson helped Fairbanks win the league championship and told the Force he wanted to play a similar role on a USHL level leading towards him going to Lincoln, where he’s helped the team establish itself as one of the best in the Western Conference.

“There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes people don’t know about,” Pool said. “Would we like to have those three? Yeah, but sometimes things don’t work out but there have been times where it has gone the other way. You win some, you lose some when it comes to player movement.”

Friendly Fires…

With Minnesota High School hockey currently in playoff mode we figured this would be a good time to do a little bit of an update on a few guys in the Force’s affiliate list.

The Force have three forwards on the affiliates list who are all on teams still in the hunt to reach the Minnesota state hockey tournament, which starts March 7 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Here’s a look at how everyone has done so far.

-Jay Dickman, forward, St. Paul Johnson: Dickman was arguably the talk of the hockey world in Minnesota yesterday scoring the game-winning goal in overtime helping St. Paul Johnson to a 6-5 win over White Bear Lake, which made it to last season’s state tournament. Dickman was dominant picking up two goals and two assists yesterday. Dickman and the Governors continued this trend of upsets where No. 2 seeds across the state have been dropping. Their next game, the section semifinal, is Wednesday against Roseville. Should St. Paul Johnson win, it would advance to the section finals on Friday where it would face the winner of Stillwater/Hill-Murray. But if there is a loss, there is a chance Force fans could see Dickman this weekend.

-Dominic Toninato, forward, Duluth East (Minnesota-Duluth): Toninato and Co. came real close to finding out what it’d be like to come real close to being upset yet held on with a 4-2 win Elk River on Saturday. Toninato and East are considered to be the favorites to win state this year after going 24-1 in the regular season. Toninato had an assist and now has three points in two playoff games this season. He and the Greyhounds will shoot for a Section 7AA title on Thursday against Andover in Duluth. Force chief scout Jesse Davis said last week Toninato would join the Force for next season.

-Zach Doerring, forward, Blake: Doerring probably had the easiest and least-eventful weekend of anyone on this list. Blake cruised to a 6-2 win over St. Louis Park and Doerring picked up one assists. Blake will now meet Section 2A No. 2 seed Delano on Tuesday in the section semifinals. If Blake wins, it will advance to the section finals on Thursday where it will face the winner of Breck/Mound-Westonka. Davis added Doerring will join the Force next season along with Toninato.

Hit That…

Whatever concerns there might have been about the Force were quickly swept away.

The Force jumped out to a 4-0 lead – scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the second period – en route to a 6-2 win on Saturday night at Waterloo meaning the Force are now tied for third place in the Western Conference.

It is quite a change considering Black and Blue got worked like a McRib for in a 4-1 loss on Friday night to Omaha.

As is the case with every away game, here’s a look at the people who made the win happen.

-Zane Gothberg, goaltender (North Dakota): Gothberg bounced back from a not-so-great night to possibly have one his better games all season. Waterloo has one of the most dangerous attacks in the league so to keep them at bay says a lot for any goaltender. Gothberg made 28 saves on the night and has helped contribute to a major stat, which we’ll bring up later. He’s now 18-12-3 with a 2.46 GAA this season.

-Dave Gust, forward: Gust probably had the strongest performance of any player on the Force tonight. He picked up a goal and an assist for his fourth multi-point game of the season. But what’s even bigger is this is his first three-point game of his career. Gust recently went five games without a point and now has four in his last three. In the 29 games he’s played this year, he has 20 points making him the team’s fourth-leading scorer. It can be argued Gust is the reason why the High Musical Line has been on key this season.

-Gabe Guertler, forward (Minnesota): Speaking of the Musical, Guertler returned to the scoresheet for the first time in seven games with two assists. He’s had a really odd year and here’s why. Fans can say what they want about his offensive production but he’s stepped up in other ways. He’s actually been gritty with the way he plays by actually getting in people’s faces. So when you add that edge with his potential to breakout at any time, it makes for a strong combination of items to have in what is still a first-year player who is still just 16 years old and one of the youngest in the league. Because we’ve mentioned two members of The Musical, don’t forget Alex Iafallo (Minnesota-Duluth) who also scored a goal.

-Justin Wade, defenseman (Notre Dame): Let’s recap. Fargo’s not flooding this year. The New York Knicks are relevant again and Wade scored a goal. Yes, people, the end of days really are near. Wade picked up his first goal, an empty-netter, in his USHL career snapping a 77-game streak. Since Dec. 1, Wade is actually a plus-14 and for the year is a plus-7 marking what might be one of the better turnarounds of any player on the team this season. Wade has really established himself as one of the league’s better shutdown defenseman this year. Not saying goals will start flowing, but it might be fair to say he’s living up to the potential many had for him.

-The Force’s Defense: Wade scoring was certainly the cherry on top of what was a sweet evening for the blueliners. David Mead opened game with a goal while Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha) scored the team’s second goal. Now here’s the stat we were talking about earlier. Just on goals allowed, the Force are the best defense in the Western Conference and are the third-best in the entire USHL. Yep. The Force are in the top five in goals allowed and the penalty kill this season.

Don’t Hold Your Applause..

If Jake Bischoff (Minnesota) has learned anything this week, it is plans can certainly change.

Bischoff planned to join the Omaha Lancers in March after Grand Rapids’ potential run at making the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. Mm-mm. He was wrong though. Grand Rapids was knocked out of the playoffs Tuesday and Bischoff thought about taking some time off before joining the Lancers.

“Someone called my dad and said they were in Fargo today,” Bischoff said. “And we said that’s perfect, it’s only three hours away so we made the drive.”

Bischoff arrived Friday morning in Fargo, long enough to introduce himself and meet his roommates before making his USHL debut in a 4-1 win over the Force. Bischoff was paired with Player of the Year candidate Nolan Zajac (Denver) among others throughout the game.

He was a minus-1 but Bischoff had moments during the game where he showed he was starting to adjust.

Bischoff, 17, was fighting in the corners for the puck and had no problem getting physical and delivering a hit if he needed to. He admitted after the game it was a change from the offensive style he played at Grand Rapids this season.

He used this year’s high school season to further established himself as one of the more prolific offensive-defensemen in the state scoring 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 25 games this year. Bischoff, who committed to the Gophers in December, along with fellow juniors in Blaine’s Michael Brodzinski (Minnesota) and Maple Grove’s Jordan Gross (Notre Dame) are considered to be three of the state’s most talented defensemen.

“It was fast. Definitely faster but it was fun,” Bischoff said. “The guys showed me around, took me into their arms and I had a blast. It was a lot of fun.”

Bischoff said it was a bit of a whirlwind experience.

He arrived early enough to meet his two roommates, which he remembered were from Michigan but he had a little trouble remembering their names. The teammates he was referring to were Ken Babinski (Ferris State) and Scott Dornbrock.

Give Bischoff some credit. He did know his roommates were injured and he got the chance to know his teammates a bit better with Omaha getting back on the road and traveling to Sioux Falls for at 7:05 p.m.

The 6-0, 180-pound Bischoff, who actually favors Zac Efron a little bit, signed with the Lancers around the USHL Trade Deadline. With Bischoff being a high school free agent, it meant he’d have to play at least 10 games with the Lancers so he could be protected and on the team’s roster for next season.

With 15 games left in the season, it appears Bischoff will get in the games needed to stay on Omaha’s roster.

Yet that’s the only guarantee for next season. Bischoff said he’s undecided about spending next season in Grand Rapids or if he wants to stick with the Lancers.

“It’s still up in the air and I am not for sure either way,” Bischoff said. “It was a blast tonight and I will have to see how the rest of the season goes. At the end of the season, I’ll sit down with my family and we’ll make a decision.”

It appears he has made a decision on playing high school baseball in the future and it seems as if Bischoff might try playing Legion ball in the summertime.

Normally most high-school aged players in the USHL don’t return to school and try to take up another sport. Although Bischoff’s teammate, Tanner Lane (Nebraska-Omaha), did it last season. When Lane was with the Force, he returned to Detroit Lakes High School where he led the school to a Class 2A state title in golf.

Bischoff, a left-handed hitter, played catcher last season and attracted a number of Division I offers including one from Minnesota.

“I would like to try to still play baseball but it is getting to the point where I am not playing as much as I’d like to,” he said. “I might try to play a little baseball this summer.”