Colton Hargrove sending a slap shot in a recent game. Photo from the Fargo Force Staff
The Fargo Force has announced the 3rd NCAA Commitment from a DFW Based Player this season yesterday when Fargo Force Forward Colton Hargrove announced his commitment to Western Michigan University which competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). Hargrove is in the middle of his 2nd season for the Force in the USHL as he has been a part of the top line which also includes Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) & Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota).
Hargrove is known for his hard nosed style of play where he brings a physical component and an improving scoring touch over the course of the season since he went scoreless during his first 7 games of the season. However, since the Christmas Break he has registered just over half of his 23 points in 34 total games played this season. He's also is tied for 2nd in assist for the team Willie Corin with 14 assists, in addition to his strong assist totals, he also has registered 9 goals with 67 Penalty Minutes and a Plus/Minus Rating of +3 so far this season.
When it came time for Hargrove to announce his decision, it came down to Western Michigan & Minnesota-Duluth and choose Western Michigan he had high praise for WMU Head Coach Andy Murray. "I made my decision because of the coaching staff at WMU and it's a good school. They are going to have a great team the next few years and I can't wait to play there," Said Hargrove when talking about his decision. "It felt good to get the commitment finally," Said Hargrove. "Now I can stop worrying about that and worry about playing my game."
Western Michigan has gone from being a doormat to an emerging power in the CCHA in recent years. Last year the Broncos reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996 and nearly upset the Denver Pioneers by pushing Denver to Double OT before eventually losing 3-2 which it turned out to be the only Multiple OT Game during the NCAA Tournament last season. They also were able reach the CCHA Conference Championship game for the 1st time since 1986 when they lost to the Miami (OH) University Redhawks 5-2 in the Conference Title Game as well.
The Broncos are in the midst of a very impressive season as the Broncos are in a very intense fight as the gap from the Conference Leading Miami (OH) Redhawks to 5th Place Lake Superior Lakers is just 2 points right now. And will be looking to fight it out for Home Ice Advantage in the Quarterfinals and get the best possible seeding for the CCHA Championship Weekend when it takes place March 16 & 17 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Western Michigan will be a part of the CCHA for the rest of next season and next year.
But starting in the 2013-2014 season, the Broncos will join the newly created National Collegaite Hockey Conference with fellow CCHA Member Miami (OH) University; along with a half a dozen current WCHA Members Colorado College, University of Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota & St. Cloud State. The Conference recently confirmed that the 1st season will have these 8 teams, however, they has been no word about when or if new teams will be added in the near future.
With the NCAA Commitment now out of the way for Hargrove, his next goal will be to finish the regular season strong and help the Force go deep in the playoffs. Currently, Fargo sits 4th in the Western Conference just 1 point back of 3rd Place Waterloo (42) and 3 points back of 2nd Place Lincoln (44). The battle for 2nd is huge because the top 2 seeds in the USHL Playoffs get a 1st Round Bye and earn guaranteed home ice in the USHL Division Semifinals.
Last year, the Force were able to sweep the Lincoln Stars in the best of 3 first round, but that was before the defending USHL Champion Dubuque Fighting Saints sweep ed them during the West Division Semifinals in 3 games straight. In their short history, the Force have been able to get the USHL Championship Series twice in their 3 years in the USHL History. During their inaugural season in 2008-2009 finished 3rd in the Western Conference during the regular season, then in the playoffs, the Force defeated the Omaha Lancers & Lincoln Stars on route to the Clark Cup Championship Series before losing to Indiana in 4 games.
2010 brought similar results by finishing 2nd in the Regular Season and getting back to the Clark Cup Championship by beating Sioux Falls & Omaha in the Western Conference Playoffs. Then lost in a very tough 5 game series to the Green Bay Gamblers. The 2010 playoffs were even more impressive as they went through 2 huge buzz saws of teams in the Omaha Lancers in the Western Conference Final & the Green Gamblers in the league championship series who ran away with the top seed in their conferences during the 2009-2010 regular season.
Hargrove joins Duggie Lagrone (Des Moines Buccaneers/Colorado College Commitment) & Jacob Fallon (Indiana Ice/Univ. of Vermont Commitment) as the 3rd DFW Based Player to make his NCAA Hockey Commitment this season in which are all are USHL Players. Other DFW Area Players to possibly keep an eye on include Robert Nichols (Wenatchee Wild) who's been among the NAHL's Best Goalies this year which included being named the NAHL Goalie of the Month for January just yesterday for instance. Also, The Woodlands Native Matt Tyson has had a strong season for the Alberta Junior Hockey League's (AJHL) Brooks Bandits who's been a great enforcer for the Bandits this season helping them reach the #1 Seed for the upcoming AJHL Playoffs that start later this month.