Minot native drafted by NHL’s Sharks

Since he first started playing hockey, Alex Schoenborn dreamt of one day playing in the National Hockey League.

That dream became one step closer Saturday when the Minot native was drafted in the third round by the San Jose Sharks with the 72nd overall pick in the NHL Draft.

“I can’t even really explain it,” Schoenborn said. “I’m just so happy. When I got picked, I was shaking, I guess. It hasn’t really sunk in too much yet, but I’m really happy right now.”

Schoenborn, who spent the past two seasons playing junior hockey with the Portland (Ore.) Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, was back in Minot at his parents’ house when the big moment occurred. He was watching the draft with his family when he saw his name flash across the screen.

His phone hasn’t stopped ringing since then, as family and friends have been calling to congratulate the former Minot High hockey player. One such call came from the Sharks organization. Schoenborn will have close to a week before heading to San Jose on July 6 for the team’s weeklong camp.

“I’m definitely going to be a little nervous, but also excited,” Schoenborn said. “I’m going to take it as a learning curve, but also try to do my best to prove to the team that I’m ready to play in the NHL.”

Schoenborn played one year with the Magicians before moving to Nebraska his sophomore year to play for Omaha AAA in the North American Prospects Hockey League. He led Minot in scoring during his freshman season, recording 45 points on 23 goals and 22 assists.

“It’s not often you get a freshman that dynamic of a hockey player,” Minot coach Chad Burckhard said. “He was so big and strong and fast. He looked like an 18-year-old when he was 14. He carried himself with so much confidence. He was the hardest-working kid at practice or one of the hardest. He had a goal from an early age and he chased it and chased it hard. I’m proud of him to be able to achieve it.”

The 6-foot, 196-pound forward found success at the next level as well, amassing 117 points (45 g, 72 a) in 63 games with Omaha AAA. Schoenborn signed with the Winterhawks at the end of the year, going a different route than most American-born hockey players. While many American-born hockey players choose to play college hockey, Schoenborn opted to play in the WHL, a major junior hockey league based in Western Canada and the northwestern United States. In 92 games with Portland, Schoenborn recorded 38 points (19 g, 19 a).

“I guess development-wise I was more developed than most kids my age,” Schoenborn said. “I wanted to be a pro hockey player and this route that I went teaches you how to be a pro hockey player and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision now.”

Burckhard shared in Schoenborn’s excitement when he heard the news.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” he said. “He works hard. He’s always been one of those rink rat kind of guys. I was just really happy for him to achieve this goal, because I know it’s a dream he’s been chasing for a number of years.”

Schoenborn is likely to begin his professional career in Worcester, Mass., with the Worcester Sharks – San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate. But he hopes to join the likes of Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Antti Niemi, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton on the Sharks’ roster soon.

“I’ve always dreamt of being an NHL hockey player and this has gotten me one step closer to that,” Schoenborn said.

Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.