Dubuque Fighting Saints defenseman Blake Hillman has committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Denver following his USHL career.
Hillman has played in all but one of the 30 games for the Saints this season, recording seven points (1g, 6a). He recently scored his first USHL career goal while also posting a plus-three rating in the 6-4 loss to Waterloo on January 4th. He currently is tied for the team lead with an overall plus-12 rating this season. The Saints selected the defenseman in Phase Two of the 2013 USHL Draft after he spent last season at Elk River High School in Minnesota. The defenseman was also part of the Saints team that competed in the Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia in August and helped Dubuque win bronze at the event.
Hillman, who will celebrate his 18th birthday later this month, is also gaining attention from the NHL as he was recently ranked #207 among North American skaters in the midterm rankings by NHL Central Scouting in advance of the 2014 NHL Draft.
The defenseman is joined by Dubuque teammate Dylan Gambrell who is also committed to the University of Denver. Four other players who have competed in the USHL this season are committed to play hockey at the school; Logan O’Connor (Sioux Falls Stampede), Garrett Gamez (Tri-City Storm), Jared Fiegl (Team USA), and Kevin Conley (Youngstown Phantoms).
The University of Denver Pioneers are a member of the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and are led by first-year head coach Jim Montgomery who spent the previous three seasons coaching the Dubuque Fighting Saints. A total of 16 USHL alumni are on the roster for the Pioneers this season; Garrett Allen (Des Moines/Chicago/Fargo), Grant Arnold (Green Bay Gamblers),Will Butcher (Team USA), Josiah Didier (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Daniel Doremus (Sioux Falls Stampede), Brad Hawkinson (Lincoln Stars), Evan Janssen (Dubuque Fighting Saints), Zac Larraza (Team USA), Ty Loney (Youngstown Phantoms), David Makowski (Green Bay Gamblers), Trevor Moore (Tri-City Storm), Emil Romig (Indiana Ice), Quentin Shore (Team USA), Matt Tabrum (Omaha/Sioux Falls), Matt Van Voorhis (Sioux Falls Stampede), and Nolan Zajac (Omaha/Cedar Rapids).
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)