Though the Force are in the midst of snagging a high playoff seed, there’s still time to look at the future.
So here’s a look at what’s going on with players on the Force’s affiliate list. The affiliates list is a list of players in the Force’s system. They all play on different teams ranging from high schools to junior hockey teams in other leagues.
The Force, on paper, boast one of the best affiliate lists in the entire USHL given they have eight players already committed to a college.
Here’s a look at how the Force’s future is doing this month.
-Charlie Pelnik (North Dakota), defenseman, Shattuck-St. Mary’s: Pelnik is playing a schedule which should get him ready for next season with the Force. He’s played in 38 games at Shattuck-St. Mary’s (MN-HS) and has scored 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) this season. The 6-4, 190-pound Pelnik,16, was the Force’s No. 10 pick in last season’s USHL Futures Draft.
-Brendan Harms (Bemidji State), forward, Portage (MJHL): Harms has been on an absolute roll this season after coming back from a shoulder injury. He has scored at least one point in 11 games and during the stretch has 20 points including his last game when he scored four points. Harms, for the season, has scored 54 points (20 goals, 34 assists) in 39 games this season. It is expected he will join the Force next season.
-Brett Heikkila (Northern Michigan), forward, Marquette Electricians (Midget Major): Heikkila continues to improve from last season when he scored 24 points in 53 games last season. The Marquette native has 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 57 games and scored two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in his last game. He also turns 17 on Wednesday too and like Pelink and Harms could be in Fargo next season.
-Johnny Baiocco (Yale), forward, Delbarton Prep (NJ-HS): There’s a lot going on with Baiocoo so let’s start with this. He’s scored at least one point in every game he’s played this season but he’s been one of the most, if not the most, dominant private school player in New Jersey this season. He has 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) this season for Delbarton, which is 21-1 this season and looks to repeat as New Jersey’s Private School Champions. The 5-8, 145-pound Baiocco is a junior at Delbarton and will spend his senior year at the school before joining the Force.
-Trevor Hamilton (Miami (Ohio), forward, NTDP (USHL): Hamilton and the U-17s are getting back to their USHL schedule after playing in a few international competitions such as the Vlad Dzurilla Tournament. It appears Hamilton might be injured as he hasn’t played a USHL game since January. He has played in 18 games and has five points (1 goal, 4 assists) this season. Hamilton will spend next season at the NTDP before coming to Fargo and then heading off to Miami.
-Butrus Ghafari (Western Michigan), defenseman, Detroit Compuware (Midget Major): Ghafari recently joined the team after signing a tender last week. It means he’s in the system and will play with the Force next season. The 5-11, 175-pound Ghafari has 13 points (1 goal, 12 assists) in 26 games this season.
-Dominic Toninato (Minnesota-Duluth), forward, Duluth East (MN-HS): Toninato is simply having one of the best seasons of any player in Minnesota this season. His Duluth East squad heads into the section playoffs as the No. 1 team in the state and in many minds, the odds-on favorite to walk away with a state title. Toninato hasn’t disappointed by scoring 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 25 regular season games. He’ll likely pad those numbers with early round section playoff games usually coming against weaker opponents. Also, he committed to Minnesota-Duluth since the last prospects update making him the fourth player either on the Force’s active roster or in the system with a commit to the school. Toninato will join the Force next season.
-Cory Ward (Bemidji State), forward, Aberdeen (NAHL): Ward is having one of the better seasons of any player in the NAHL for what is the second year in a row. The Las Vegas, Nev. native has racked up 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) for Aberdeen this season showing last season wasn’t a fluke. Ward scored 57 points (32 goals, 25 assists) in 58 games last season. His 51 points this year are through 45 games. He also played the NAHL’s Top Prospects Game to boot. Force chief scout Jesse Davis said Ward will be at Bemidji State next season and will not join the team.
-Jay Dickman, forward, St. Paul Johnson (MN-HS): Dickman signed with the Force a few days before the USHL Trade Deadline and was added to the active roster. Dickman’s 42 goals were the most of any Class 2A player in Minnesota and was the second-most in the state by any player. At 6-5, 228 pounds he brings a blend of power and goal scoring ability, which the Force will certainly rely upon. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News tweeted how Dickman could be a darkhorse for the upcoming NHL Draft. He was described by a scout as being built like an all-state wrestler but having soft hands. Dickman and his team come into the Section 4AA playoffs as the No. 7 seed and open against last year’s section champ and No. 2 seed White Bear Lake on Saturday. If St. Paul Johnson loses, it would be mean Dickman could play for the Force next weekend.
-Zach Doerring, forward, Blake (MN-HS): Exclude a 9-0 loss to Class A favorite Breck, and Doerring ended the season on a hot streak. He scored 25 points (5 goals, 20 assists) in his last nine games of the season. Doerring finished tied for the team lead in points with 53 (13 goals, 40 assists) and asserted himself as one of the better playmakers in Minnesota this season. His 40 assists were tied for ninth in the state and sixth among players in Class A. Combine his 6-3, 175 pound-frame with his playmaking prowess and it is easy to see how he has been one of Class A’s better players this season. Doerring, who is draft eligible this season, will join the Force next season. Blake opens the section playoffs this week as the No. 3 seed. Blake is in a section with, yep, you guessed it, Breck.
-Nick Kulmanovsky, goaltender, Alaska (NAHL): Here’s another guy who is certainly in the running to take over the throne next season. Kulmanovsky is establishing himself as one of the stronger goaltenders in the NAHL this season. He’s helped Alaska with a 17-9-1 record, a 2.59 GAA and a .911 save percentage. He is 11th in wins this season and has been one of the reasons Alaska is second in the West Division this season.
-T.J. Black, goaltender, Chicago Mission (Midget Major): Black, despite playing in a two-goalie system, has managed to have a solid season playing in the High Performance Hockey League. He is 8-3-1 with a 2.19 GAA and a .929 save percentage. He’s third in the league in wins, first in GAA and third in save percentage.
-Dante Suffredini, defenseman, Detroit Honeybaked (Midget Major): If the stats are correct, then Suffredini had one interesting weekend. Pointstreak shows he played in three games on Sunday. Maybe that isn’t correct, but he did get an assist in one of those games. He has eight points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 23 games this season. Suffredini could be a player who is on the Force next season.
-Gage Torrel, forward, Alexandria (NAHL): Torrel has been a contributor to the Blizzard in what would have been his senior year in high school. The 5-10, 175-pound Torrel has scored 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) this season and will come to the Force from the same system which produced current forward Jordan Nelson.