Fargo Force defenseman Justin Wade has committed to play college hockey at Notre Dame following his United States Hockey League career.
The second year defenseman will be leaned on much more in the 2011-12 season than he was in his rookie campaign. Wade gathered in one assist and 49 penalty minutes in 35 games played last season for Fargo. He started on the team’s affiliate list and ended the season on the team’s 23-man active roster. Wade did have a respectable minus-1 plus-minus rating last season.
The 6-foot-2, 210 pound stay-at-home defenseman had a big summer that was capped off by making the USA U-18 team that competed in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. The team didn’t fare well, but Wade saw valuable ice time playing with and against top U-18 players in the world.
He has a big body and he likes to use it. He will likely be asked to pick up the physical game even more with the loss of Oleg Yevenko (UMass). The numbers show that his main focus is defense, as he had just 25 shots in 35 games played. He showed is discipline too, averaging a little more than a penalty every other game.
Wade will need to be an asset in Fargo if the team is going to have success in the upcoming season. He is one of just three returning defensemen alongside Willie Corrin (UMD) and Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha). Cooper and Corrin are naturally a little more offensive minded that Wade, but the Force coaches believe Wade will be more of an offensive weapon this season than last season.
This is the second college commitment that Fargo players have made in the past ten days. On September 11, incoming defenseman Brady Riesgraf committed to Bemidji State University. Brendan Harms, a Force prospect, also committed to Bemidji State earlier this summer.
With Wade’s commitment to Notre Dame, four of Fargo’s 10 defensemen on the current roster are committed to Division I school with Cooper, Corrin, and Riesgraf being the others. With the upcoming Fall Classic, more players could commit to schools in the upcoming weeks prior to the start of the regular season.
Wade, a high school senior, will be close to home in South Bend, Indiana, where the Notre Dame campus is located. He is from Aurora, Illinois, which is 135 miles west of South Bend on the south side of Lake Michigan.
The Fighting Irish have been a consistent top 15 team in the NCAA in most of the past decade. With at least another year of seasoning with the Fargo Force, Wade should be a welcomed addition to the Notre Dame defensive group.
By: Tim How