2016 USHL Player of the Year Rem Pitlick has officially announced his intent to play for the University of Minnesota for the 2016-17 season in an exclusive League interview.
“This decision doesn't come easy. I had a great time in Muskegon and really enjoyed working on and off the ice with the staff and my teammates, they all helped me become a better player,” said Pitlick. “I've considered myself a late-bloomer at most levels and wanted to leave my options open to come back to the USHL in case I needed a little bit more time, but after all the hard work this summer I feel comfortable of where I am at as an athlete and want to further my development at the University of Minnesota. Ever since I announced my commitment there it has been a goal of mine to come in and make an impact, and I think with the support of the Gophers staff I can do that.”
The announcement follows a career season for Pitlick, after scoring 46 goals and 89 points with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Pitlick also won USHL Forward of the Year, All-USHL First Team and USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year.
But stats and awards don’t equal development, something Pitlick had to consider in his decision.
“Many people have looked at my stats and assumed one thing or another. Playing hockey at this high of level requires more than just stats,” added Pitlick. “I wanted to make sure I was completely comfortable and confident in all situations to help my team, whether that is playing better in my defensive zone or adding weight in the gym. When we sat down as a family this summer and evaluated my decision, those were the things we focused on.”
The team was informed earlier this week on his decision. Muskegon General Manager John Vanbiesbrouck didn’t harbor any resentment in the decision, and pointed to the fact that this exact situation is why players should consider a development path that gives them the most options.
“The Muskegon Lumberjacks are proud of Rem and his decision to head to the University of Minnesota,” said Vanbiesbrouck. “As GM of the Lumberjacks and USA Hockey VP of Junior Hockey, I am a strong believer that player development is a process and the path for players varies based on their situation. In Rem’s case he played in the USHL for two years, including last year’s dominant MVP performance. He took time this offseason to contemplate and evaluate his options and chose the one best suited for his situation. It was well thought out and we believe he will enjoy an amazing college hockey career at the University of Minnesota.”
The Plymouth, MN native and Shattuck St. Mary’s product was selected by the Nashville Predators in the 3rd round, 76th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft after leading the USHL in scoring by 23 points. He will join fellow Predators prospect Thomas Novak (Waterloo Black Hawks) while at the University of Minnesota.
Before graduating to college hockey, Pitlick reflected upon his time in the USHL and made sure to note how important everyone’s support, in a difficult time no less, was to him.
“I will forever be grateful to the Lumberjacks organization,” said Pitlick. “Mr. Vanbiesbrouck, Coach Krygier, Coach Robinson, Coach Shields, the Smith family for their unmatched hospitality, and most importantly my teammates. They were the greatest group of guys I ever played with. I would not be at this point in my career without all of the people mentioned above.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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