Youngstown Phantoms forward Tom Serratore has committed to skate for the University of Minnesota beginning this fall.
"I feel honored and thrilled to get a chance to play for Minnesota," said Serratore. "I used to go to their games when I was young and everybody knows the Gophers and the fans are great. I really feel like my hard work has paid off."
Serratore has recorded 24 points (13g, 11a) in 47 games this season, ranking second on the team with 13 goals. The 20-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colorado also serves as a team assistant captain. It is his third USHL season after skating the previous two years for the Sioux City Musketeers. In 116 total games in the League, he has tallied 37 points (20g, 17a). Serratore was also selected to participate in the 2010 USHL All-Star Game and scored the first goal for the East Division during their 5-4 overtime victory.
"[The Minnesota coaching staff] said they needed a player like me," said Serratore. "They're looking for me to be a hard-working player and finish my checks."
The Phantoms acquired Serratore for their inaugural USHL season during an expansion draft held by the League in May 2009.
"Minnesota was keeping a close eye on Tom all year," Phantoms Head Coach/GM Curt Carr said. "They're a very skilled hockey team and he'll bring his speed, grit and determination to their lineup. He has a lot more skill than people give him credit for."
"After his first couple weeks [in Youngstown], I was very impressed with Tom as an individual and as a leader," Carr said. "Everything you hear about Tom is in relation to his work ethic and how he does the little things: block shots, go to the net, and be physical. He sometimes plays with a complete and utter disregard to his own body and safety, but that's the stuff guys feed off."
Eight other current USHL players are committed to attend the University of Minnesota; Sam Warning (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Ryan Walters (Des Moines Buccaneers), Nate Condon (Fargo Force), Nate Schmidt (Fargo Force), Seth Ambroz (Omaha Lancers), Erik Haula (Omaha Lancers), Justin Holl (Omaha Lancers), and Travis Boyd (Team USA),
The University of Minnesota Gophers are a member of the WCHA and currently have 14 former USHL players on their roster; Kevin Wehrs (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Seth Helgeson (Sioux City Musketeers), Patrick White (Tri-City Storm), Taylor Matson (Des Moines Buccaneers), Tony Lucia (Omaha Lancers), Nico Sacchetti (Omaha Lancers), Joe Miller (Sioux City Musketeers), Jacob Cepis (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Nick Larson (Omaha Lancers), Jake Hansen (Sioux Falls Stampede), Josh Birkholz (Fargo Force), Jay Barriball (Sioux Falls Stampede), Alex Kangas (Indiana Ice), and Kent Patterson (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders).
In addition, Gophers assistant coaches Grant Potulny and Justin Johnson both played in the USHL for the Lincoln Stars.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)