Bismarck Bobcats captain Casey Kleisinger is the latest member of the black and gold to accept an offer to play Division I hockey, committing to the United States Air Force Academy for the fall of 2010.
He’s the second player who competed in last month’s Sherwood/NAHL Top Prospects Tournament to commit to a Division I school after the event (Connecticut recruit Rui Encarnacao of the Janesville Jets is the other).
“It’s a thrill to know I’ll be playing Division I hockey next year, especially for a nationally renowned program like Air Force,” said Kleisinger, who ranks second on the Bobcats with 40 points. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders to have my college plans set, so now the only thing to focus on is getting back to the national tournament and winning the Robertson Cup.”
An Edwards, Colo., native, Kleisinger will be heading three hours southeast of his hometown to attend the Colorado Springs-based military academy.
For Kleisinger, though, being close to home wasn’t the deciding factor to attend Air Force.
“I just felt like it was the best fit for me and for my family,” said the second-year Bobcat. “Talking with (Falcons head) coach (Frank) Serratore, I know that I’ll have a chance at some solid playing time while going to a premier academic institution.”
He’s the fourth current Bobcat to become a future Falcon and one of three to be Air Force-bound this fall, along with Jason Fabian and Aaron Quick. Bobcats forward Ryan Jacobson will join the Falcons roster in the fall of 2011.
“It’s a very cool situation, having all these guys who are my teammates now headed to the same college as I am, especially Jason,” said Kleisinger. “He's my roommate here in Bismarck and I know making the jump next year is going to be a lot smoother with him there along with guys like Aaron.”
Air Force is the defending champion of the Atlantic Hockey conference and its current roster boasts former Bobcats David Bosner and 2009 Hobey Baker Award finalist Jacques Lamoureux.
Kleisinger joins the likes of Fabian, Quick, Jacobson, Gavin Hartzog (Wisconsin), Tom McCarthy (Merrimack), Sam Rendle (Bemidji State), Tony Turgeon (alumnus, Nebraska-Omaha) and Blake Hietala (alumnus, Michigan Tech) on the Bobcats’ 2009-10 college commitment list. The total of nine current commits breaks the previous team record of six, set in 2008-09.
Kleisinger says the feat is no coincidence under Bobcats head coach Byron Pool.
“Coach really works hard to get all of us the best possible college placements,” said Kleisinger. “He was instrumental in getting me attention from places like Air Force and Colorado College because he puts our names in front of the best D-I and D-III programs out there.”
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)