Photo by Hickling Images
Bloomington Thunder forward Jake Durflinger has announced his commitment to play his college hockey at the University of Denver following his time in the USHL.
“Denver is a school that I’ve always been really excited about,” Durflinger said. “To get an offer from there and get an opportunity to go play there is really, really special.
“It means a lot. Coach Williams and Coach Watt and Coach Jewell have done a lot for me and helped me through that process. I played here for a full year last year and that helps a lot with being comfortable with the league. It’s a big accomplishment to get that commitment under my belt.”
The Walnut Creek, CA native is in his third full season in the USHL. He began his junior hockey career in 2013-14 season with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays (NAHL). He started his USHL career with the Sioux City Musketeers before joining Bloomington for the majority of the 2015-16 season. He has 52 points (21 G, 31 A) in 115 career USHL games, including four points in 10 playoff games last season, a year in which the Thunder advanced to the Eastern Conference Final. Bloomington head coach and general manager Dennis Williams said he is extremely happy for his veteran forward.
“For Jake in his commitment to Denver, he’s a complete warrior type player,” Williams said. “They’re getting an honest hockey player, one that plays a 200-foot game, makes plays, scores goals, hits, sticks up for teammates.
“We couldn’t be happier. He’s put a lot of hard work in and knows he needs to continue to work hard, but he’s put in his time for sure and proven he’s a Division I college hockey player.”
With Durflinger’s announcement, the Thunder now have 21 Division I commits on their roster, the second-most total in the league behind Team USA. The Pioneers are led by two-time USHL General Manager of the Year and two-time Clark Cup champion Jim Montgomery.
Durflinger is set to join a college hockey program that has advanced to the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament in nine consecutive seasons, including a Frozen Four appearance last season. But for now, the forward is focused on his final year of junior hockey with the Thunder.
“I’ve played in this league for three years and to have that off my back is a relief for sure,” Durflinger said of his commitment. “Now I can focus on my game, focus on the team here and focus on winning here in Bloomington.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 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.