Fargo Force forward Gabe Guertler has committed to the University of Minnesota, the team said via their Twitter account this afternoon.
Guertler, 16, will become the first Florida-born player to play hockey at Minnesota. The school could not discuss commitments as it involves a future player who has not signed a National Letter of Intent. But the school did say it has had players from Alaska, California, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Oh and for those freaking about in regards to “What would Doug Woog say?” Relax. Guertler’s father is a St. Paul native.
At the time of his commitment, Guertler was at the team’s practice facility in north Fargo preparing for the season which starts this weekend as the Force opens on the road against Des Moines. But here’s a video of him from a few weeks ago doing agility drills during a team practice.
The highly-touted Guertler was the Force’s second overall pick in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft. Fargo managed to get two picks (Nos. 2 and 10) in the Futures Draft following a trade it made a year ago with the Chicago Steel. The Force traded Edmonton Oilers draft pick and former Wisconsin commit Troy Hesketh for the Steel’s Futures Draft pick, which was Guertler.
Fargo’s second pick in the first round was defenseman Charlie Pelnik, a North Dakota commit, who will spent the season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Guertler, who is from Plantation, Fla., played last season with Team Illinois (midget minor) where he torched the league for 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 35 games last season. He played alongside forward J.T. Compher, a Michigan commit.
“Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure. I thought I’d go somewhere in the first round but I was not sure if Fargo was going to take me,” is what Guertler said a few months ago when discussing the Futures Draft. “I figured they take me 10th and then they called the night before the draft and I was pretty excited that they were thinking about picking me.”
Force scout Jesse Davis said immediately after the team drafted Guertler that they expected him to be on the team this season. The Force released their official 23-man roster today and the 5-9, 170-pound Guertler will wear No. 8 this season.
He spent the summer playing for Team USA helping it win the Five Nations Tournament. Guertler was on the top line partnered with former Boston University commit turned-QMJHL product Adam Erne and Benilde-St. Margaret’s Daniel Labosky.
Guertler finished the tournament with three goals and two assists putting him in a tie for fifth place in scoring.
A few weeks ago, Guertler took a visit to North Dakota and said that his three finalists were the Gophers, Sioux and Denver. At that time, Guertler said he was going to wait to make a commitment. Yet he said earlier in the summer that a decision could come before the season started.
Guertler will spend this season most likely trying to fill the void left by forward Jimmy Mullin, a Tampa Bay Lightning Pick, who is now at Miami (Ohio). Mullin was a flashy playmaking forward that scored goals and created chances providing a big offensive spark for the Force.
Though Guertler is younger than Mullin, he will be relied upon heavily to score goals on a team that does return 10 players and overall, has 11 players with USHL experience this season.