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College men's hockey: Bulldogs captain, Duluth native Andy Welinski signs with NHL's Ducks

Duluth native Andy Welinski is moving on to the next chapter of his hockey career.The Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman and captain told the News Tribune on Sunday he signed a two-year entry level deal with the Anaheim Ducks that begins with the...

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Welinski
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Duluth native Andy Welinski is moving on to the next chapter of his hockey career.
The Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman and captain told the News Tribune on Sunday he signed a two-year entry level deal with the Anaheim Ducks that begins with the 2016-17 season and runs through 2017-18.
Welinski, 22, was drafted by the Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, No. 83 overall. Welinski said Sunday he was on his way to report to Anaheim’s top minor-league affiliate, the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League, on an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season. The Gulls are in position to make the AHL playoffs with five regular-season games remaining.
Welinski said he hopes to make his pro debut as early as Wednesday night when the Gulls host the Bakersfield Condors.
“It’s exciting for sure,” Welinski said by phone. “It’s been a long road to get here and there’s obviously been a lot of people that have helped me get to this point.
“Right off the bat I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m at right now. It will be a great test to get in some games here and, hopefully, make a playoff run.”
After growing up playing on the Glen Avon rink and later at Duluth East High School, Welinski left town after his junior year to play two years for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. In his second season with the Gamblers, he tallied 15 goals and 22 assists en route to regular and postseason USHL titles and the 2011-12 USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year award.
Welinski could have signed with the Ducks and left the Bulldogs after his junior season at UMD, but he elected to stay and captain his hometown team. A two-time NCHC Defenseman of the Year finalist, he finished with six goals and 13 assists as a senior, down from the nine goals and 12 assists he had as a junior. He totaled 24 goals and 53 assists in his collegiate career and was the Bulldogs’ top-scoring defenseman all four years.
After the playoff to Boston College, Welinski addressed his teammates - specifically those who were contemplating leaving early -  a final time to remind them of what he went through after his junior season and let them know he had no regrets coming back.
The Bulldogs lost just one player early - sophomore goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo signed with the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs last Monday - with juniors Alex Iafallo, Carson Soucy and Dominic Toninato all returning for their senior seasons.
Iafallo, Soucy and Toninato all said Welinski’s words had an impact on their decision.
“I was there as another source if those guys had questions,” Welinski said. “They reached out and they researched their options, which I think was important. They’re all good players and you knew they were going to get attention. For them to take that step and weigh their options a little bit was good.
“I’m not going to say I pushed them one way or another, I just wanted to open their eyes to all the possibilities and I think they did a very good job of that by themselves. I wanted to let them know I was happy with what I had chosen.”
r Four members of the Bulldogs made their professional debuts this weekend in the AHL. Kaskisuo picked up his first pro win by making 26 saves Friday for the Toronto Marlies and on Saturday, senior center Tony Cameranesi scored his first pro goal with the Marlies. Playing for the Lake Erie Monsters, senior wing Austin Farley was credited with his first pro point - an assist - on Friday. Senior defenseman Willie Corrin of International Falls also made his pro debut Friday with the Marlies.

Related Topics: BULLDOG SPORTS
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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