The Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League announced on Monday that forward Willie Faust (Stillwater, Minn.) has committed to NCAA Division I Army for the 2012-13 season. Faust is the second Jackalopes player in the past month to commit to a Division I hockey program, following Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebuck’s commitment to UMass-Lowell in November.
Faust is the Jackalopes’ leading goal-scorer with 11, and is second overall in points with 17 in 26 games. He is also one of Head Coach Paul Gillis’ captains.
“Just having the opportunity to play at West Point is an amazing thing,” said Faust, who will compete in the Atlantic Hockey Association. “It will certainly be a challenge, but it is something that I put a lot of thought into and it’s the best fit for me. I am honored.”
Jackalopes GM Joe Clark said that the West Point recruiters have seen Faust play a great deal since the season began in September. “Since the opening tournament in Blaine, right up until this past weekend, we’ve seen a lot of the Army scouts,” said Clark. “It speaks a great deal to have an athlete of Willie’s character to be associated with our program, and now Army’s. Willie is a fine young man and he has a great future, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.”
Faust credit the Jackalopes organization with aiding the process. “I am glad I made the decision to come to West Texas and play this season,” said Faust. “The coaching staff and management is well-connected and the structure here is fantastic. I am looking to finishing this season strong and helping this team make the playoffs.”
The Jackalopes (10-15-4) are currently two points behind Corpus Christi for the final playoff spot, but have three months of hockey left to play in their first season as a member of the NAHL’s Southern Division.
“We’ve improved so much since Blaine, but we compete in maybe the most difficult division in the entire league,” said Faust. “We’re close with a lot of teams, and we know what we have to do to get over the hump.”
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)