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UMD men's hockey: Fanti signs with Edmonton Oilers after impressive postseason run with Bulldogs

UMD junior goaltender Ryan Fanti posted a .961 save percentage and 1.14 goals against average in the NCHC and NCAA tournaments, including three shutouts. Now he's turning pro.

Minnesota Duluth plays Denver in regional final game in Loveland
Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) makes a save against Denver during the NCAA regional championship game on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth junior goaltender Ryan Fanti has signed a two-year entry level NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers that will begin with the 2022-23 season. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native will report to the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors for the remainder of 2021-22 on an amateur tryout contract.

Playing in his first season as the Bulldogs’ full-time starter in goal, the former Minnesota Wilderness goalie posted a .929 save percentage and 1.83 goals against average with seven shutouts in 37 starts en route to being named the NCHC Goaltender of the Year.

Fanti, who entered this season with no college shutouts, saved his best work for the postseason, however, posting a .961 save percentage and 1.14 goals against average in the NCHC and NCAA tournaments, including three shutouts. He backstopped the Bulldogs to an NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship and within a game of the NCAA Frozen Four.

Fanti played two seasons in the North American Hockey League with the Cloquet-based Wilderness before joining the Bulldogs for the 2019-20 season that was cut short by the pandemic. Fanti didn’t play a single minute in 2019-20 while backing up senior goalie Hunter Shepard and then split time with Zach Stejskal a year ago during the Bulldogs run to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

Stejskal and Fanti initially split time in goal to start the season, until Stejskal — a sophomore from Cohasset — was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October after just two starts. He didn’t return to the net until Fanti fell ill during a Feb. 12 game at Denver. Fanti played the first period that night before Stejskal took over for the second and third periods of the 3-2 victory over the Pioneers. He played just one game after that, which was a 3-2 loss at home to North Dakota on Feb. 19.

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The Stillwater, Minnesota native helped the Bulldogs win an NCAA championship and two NCHC postseason titles in four seasons.

As of now, Stejskal is the only returning goaltender for the Bulldogs for 2022-23, unless redshirt senior Ben Patt decides to exercise his sixth season of NCAA eligibility — like UMD women’s forward Naomi Rogge will — after taking a medical redshirt early in his college career.

A former standout goaltender at Grand Rapids High School, Stejskal has a .916 save percentage and 2.21 GAA in 13 career games at UMD. He started both NCAA tournament games a year ago for UMD, including the five-overtime win over North Dakota in the regional final. He had to be replaced after 124 minutes, 37 seconds of that game due to cramping.

UMD has one goaltender signed for next season in 19-year-old Zach Sandy from Fargo, North Dakota. Sandy is currently in his first season with Minot in the NAHL, where in 26 games he has a .929 save percentage and 2.47 GAA with one shutout in 26 games.

Minnesota Duluth plays Michigan Tech in regional semifinal game in Loveland
Minnesota Duluth defenseman Matt Anderson (3) celebrates with Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) after beating Michigan Tech 3-0 during the NCAA regional semifinal game on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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