UND lands USHL standout /// The 6-foot-1 Chicago Steel power forward is expected to arrive next fall.
CHICAGO — When Michael Emerson re-opened his recruiting, there was no shortage of interest.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound power forward from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., grabbed college teams' attention with his production for the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League.
Emerson is one of the league's top-six scorers with 11 goals and 24 points in 20 games.
After deciding against attending UMass, Emerson took five visits. Four were to Eastern-based schools — Boston University, Northeastern, Quinnipiac and UConn. The other was to UND.
On Thursday morning, he called UND's staff and informed them he's coming to Grand Forks next season.
"I just think it had everything I was looking for — from the school supporting the team to the coaching staff to a place to develop my game," Emerson said. "The rink and the facility they have is world class. Meeting the guys there, and the coaches, they just seemed like great guys. Overall, the campus feel just felt right."
Emerson plays like a prototypical UND forward.
He's big, skates well, plays hard and can bring pucks to the net.
He also has skill as evidenced by his point total. Right now, only five players in the United States Hockey League have more points. One of them — Jayden Perron — will be a freshman classmate at UND with Emerson next season.
This season has been a breakout one for Emerson, who suffered a season-ending injury a year ago.
What's clicking for him?
"It's just playing a 200-foot game and using my speed and size to my advantage," Emerson said. "It's using my teammates a lot, and I think just my work ethic. When you're working hard, usually good things happen."
Emerson said he learned a lot last season, his first full campaign in the USHL.
"I learned a ton last year from all the returning guys," he said. "That played a huge part. I'm just trying to stick to what I'm good at and use my strengths to play the best that I can. It's been working. We have a great team. I have a lot of great teammates. The coaches are great. It all plays a big part."
This continues a pipeline from the Chicago Steel to UND.
The Fighting Hawks now have four commits playing for the Steel — Emerson, Perron, forward Grayden Slipec and defenseman Jake Livanavage.
Last season, Jackson Blake played for the Steel, too.
Emerson said Perron, Livanavage and Slipec had been hoping he'd join them as UND commits.
"Ever since I toured (UND), they were all on me about it," Emerson said. "They were super pumped when I told them today."
Emerson will give the Fighting Hawks some versatility.
The right-handed shooting forward has played both center and wing. Lately he's been at wing.
UND is guaranteed to lose at least two forwards in the offseason with fifth-year seniors Gavin Hain and Mark Senden running out of eligibility. It now has two forwards locked in to join with Emerson and Perron.
"I just thought it was a perfect fit," Emerson said.
Size: 6-foot-1, 197 pounds.
Hometown: Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Current team: Chicago Steel.
Stats: 20 games, 11 goals, 13 assists, 24 points.
Expected UND arrival: 2023-24.