Newest Bulldog will be skating in familiar territory
Josh Laframboise won’t be a stranger to town nor to some of his teammates when he comes to Minnesota Duluth for the 2016-17 men’s hockey season.
A resident of Regina, Saskatchewan, Laframboise grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and played youth hockey on local rinks at Mars Lakeview Arena and Heritage Center for the Duluth-based Lake Superior Stars team. That team included Neal Pionk, a former Hermantown defenseman who also has committed to the Bulldogs, and was coached by Pionk’s father.
“It’s like a second home to me,” said Laframboise, who made an oral commitment late last month to attend UMD. “That played a big role in my decision.”
Forward Blake Young, who will attend UMD this fall, is a teammate of Laframboise on his current team, the Battlefords North Stars, giving the 6-foot-0, 174-pound center-left winger another familiar connection.
“All my buddies talked about UMD, and it’s been my dream school since I was a little kid,” said Laframboise, who chose UMD over Bemidji State. “And now it’s happened.”
He played for the Thunder Bay Kings at the Peewee AAA and Bantam AA levels before moving to Regina about four years ago. The 17-year-old scored 42 goals and had 39 assists in 51 games in his second season with the Battlefords Midget AAA Stars in the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League before moving up a level to play for the North Stars in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs. That season ended Friday night with a 4-1 series loss to the Melville Millionaires.
North Stars general manager and coach Kevin Hasselberg said team scouts identified Laframboise as a player to watch a season ago.
“He had a fearless approach to the game and a desire to score goals,” Hasselberg said.
Though he joined the North Stars only three weeks ago, it was enough time for teammates to see what Laframboise offered on the ice.
“He’s really skilled and has a heck of a shot — better than my shot by far,” said Young, who joins UMD next fall. “He’s one of those guys who if you give him the puck, he’ll put it in the net. He has that scoring touch.”
But Laframboise says UMD coaches were impressed with his grittiness and hitting ability, proving that he’s not one-dimensional.
“I like to play both sides of the puck on defense and offense,” he said. “I feel like I can help with scoring, but mostly I’d like to focus on my own end. I want to be one of those players who block shots and gets the puck out (of the zone) in the do-or-die moments.”