Schwartz commits to MSU

Hayden Schwarz will always be remembered around the Minot High boys hockey program as the one who ended 22 years of first-round futility at the state tournament with his game-winning overtime goal against Grand Forks Red River.

Prior to Schwarz’s heroics in the state quarterfinals, the Magicians hadn’t won a first-round game since 1992.

While Schwarz said he still thinks about that moment from time to time, he’s focused on adjusting his game to the college level. On Friday, Schwarz agreed to play collegiate hockey at Minot State, joining former teammate Morgen Martelle, who signed with the Beavers on Wednesday.

“We lost a number of forwards – key forwards – to graduation from last year’s team,” MSU coach Wade Regier said. “We’ve put ourselves into a position where we’re certaintly going to have to recruit a few extra forwards. He’s put himself into a situation in our eyes where he plays well in key situations and certainly when the game’s are at their most important times he’s electric.”

Schwarz attended tryout camps for the United States Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers and the Minot Minotauros and Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League, but none panned out. He thought about playing for the Granite City (Minn.) Lumberjacks of the NA3HL, but elected to stay close to home.

“I was thinking about playing in Granite City, but I really didn’t like the idea of leaving home,” Schwarz said. “I like playing here and saw my former teammate Morgen sign with Minot State, so I thought it would be fun to play with him again. I like the idea of staying home. It’s a good group of guys to play with.”

The Beavers lost four forwards to graduation last year, giving Schwarz the opportunity to play meaningful minutes as a freshman.

Schwarz finished third on the team in scoring in his final two seasons with the Magicians. He netted 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) during his senior season and 38 points (20 g, a) as a junior. Perhaps just as valuable as his scoring ability is his height. At 6-foot-2, Schwarz would be one of the tallest players for the Beavers.

“You can coach a lot of things and systems and skills, but you can’t coach height,” Regier said. “Certainly having a 6-2 kid that can play is something we’re looking forward to.”

Aside from being one of the tallest players on the ice, Schwarz will also be the youngest. Martelle, 20, held that honor for all of 48 hours. But being the youngest isn’t anything new for Schwarz, who will be 19 when the Beavers open their regular season.

“I’ve played with older guys a lot throughout my life,” Schwarz said. “We get guys out for open ice and skate and I’m usually one of the younger ones, so I’m used to it.”

Entering this season, MSU was looking at having a roster without a local player. Wyatt Waselenchuk was the only one last year as a senior, but now the Beavers have brought in two local products in a three-day span, something Regier said is important.

“We learned two years ago when we won a national title that it was exciting for us to do it for the program, but more exciting that we had six or seven players within 80 miles of Minot,” Regier said. “We had four Minot High players and a couple guys from Bottineau. It’s extremely important, not only for our hockey program, but our community.”

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general

assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.