The Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that forward Connor Gaarder has accepted an offer to play NCAA Division I hockey this fall for the University of North Dakota of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). "It feels great," Gaarder said. "It's always been a dream to go play up there. It feels great to be a Fighting Sioux."
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Connor and we are very happy for him,” said Coulee Region head coach Garrett Strot. “He was one of the top two-way forwards in the league last season and North Dakota is getting a great competitor and a quality individual."
Gaarder, who is 20 years old and from Edina, Minnesota, was second on the Chill in scoring last season with 61 points in 58 regular season games. He also led the team in assists during the regular season with 37. Gaarder was tied for second in team scoring during the playoffs with eight points in nine games played, as the Chill fell one game short of winning the Central Division playoff championship.
Gaarder was one of the few players in the NAHL to play in both NAHL Top Prospects Tournaments this past season in both Boston, MA and Ann Arbor, MI. In Boston, he helped Team Weight to the Top Prospects title and was second on the team in scoring. While playing for Team Central in Ann Arbor, he was second in scoring on the team. "Both of those prospects tournaments he showed he was one of the best players on the ice," Strot said. “ I think that made a significant impact on the scouts and was well worth it for him.”
"It's going to be really competitive," Gaarder said. "We'll all be battling for playing time and I'm really looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity."
Gaarder is the 10th Chill player to commit to a NCAA school this season. The rest include: Scott Bell (University of Wisconsin-Stout), Matt Blomquist (Bentley University), Lucas Dillon (University of Wisconsin-Stout), Zac Frischmon (Mercyhurst College), Micky Knox (University of Wisconsin-Stout), Mike McDonald (Air Force Academy), Paul Moberg (Air Force Academy), David Mylrea (St. John's Universit) and Berkley Scott (University of Wisconsin-Stout).
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)