UND picks up commitment from Fargo Force forward Mac Swanson
The Anchorage native is the son of former Hobey Baker Award finalist Brian Swanson.
GRAND FORKS — Mac Swanson didn't know if he would be playing in the United States Hockey League this season.
Sure, he was selected in the first round by the Fargo Force in the Phase I Draft in May, but very few 16-year-olds actually make USHL rosters.
The forward from Anchorage has done more than that.
Not only did Swanson make Fargo's roster as a 16-year-old, he's jumped onto the top line alongside Notre Dame commit Cole Knuble and Colorado College commit Bret Link, who are two and four years older than him.
Swanson is averaging more than a point-per game for the first-place Force, triggering a recruiting battle between college hockey powerhouses for the 5-foot-7, 157-pound forward.
That recruiting battle ended Saturday night, when Swanson committed to UND.
Swanson had narrowed his decision down to UND, Minnesota and Denver. He made visits to all three spots.
"I think the coaching staff was a big one," Swanson said of why he picked UND. "I felt like I had a really good connection with all three of them. Going to a game and seeing the atmosphere is something I didn't know a lot about. Right after that game, I knew it was a place I wanted to be."
Swanson has six goals and 17 points in 15 games for Fargo. He's the top-scoring 2006-born player in the USHL.
"He's obviously an exceptional player," Fargo coach Nick Oliver said. "You don't see many 16-year-olds have the impact he's had so far — at least this early in the year. Sometimes those kids take until after Christmas to get up-and-running. The biggest compliment I can give Mac is that he's earned everything he's gotten so far. We don't feel like we've given him anything. He's shown and proved he's capable of earning the opportunity to be producing like he has and getting the minutes he has so far. He's adjusted really well."
Swanson is the son of former Colorado College forward Brian Swanson, a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 1999 and a two-time All-American.
"Mac is an outstanding person from an outstanding family," Oliver said. "I think that's a big reason why he's adjusted. When things haven't gone well for him, he's worked through things and continued to grow and get better."
Swanson has attended two UND games this season — one against Holy Cross and Saturday night's game against Miami.
"It was kind of incredible seeing everything with how nice everything is," Swanson said. "You have no excuse to not get better."
Oliver said Swanson stands out for more reasons than his points.
"His hockey sense is excellent — his ability to see the ice, make plays and make other players around him better," Oliver said. "And his competitiveness away from the puck is way beyond his age. He's a player that truly impacts the game in a lot of different ways, whether it's away from the puck, his defensive play, his ability to work to get the puck back. . . I think those are probably two of the biggest things — the way he thinks it and the way he works every single day."
Swanson, who can play center or wing, is a junior in high school and will be eligible to come to UND beginning in the fall of 2024.
He is the third 2006-born player to commit to UND. The others are Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Sacha Boisvert and Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Keith McInnis.
Outside of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, Swanson and Boisvert are two of the top three 2006-born scorers in the USHL. The other is Boston University commit Macklin Celebrini.
McInnis is currently working his way back from an injury.
Swanson said if he didn't make the USHL this year, he would have looked for a 16U team. But he's happy where he is.
"We've been playing really well," Swanson said. "Everybody on the team has been contributing. Everybody likes the coaching staff. It's fun being on a winning team and it's been a fun start."