In case you missed it ...
Here is my story on Minnesota State's latest recruit, Zach Stepan, who says the No. 1 reason he chose Minnesota State was to be close to his family (his mom recently moved to Rochester). But other factors included the chance to play with his "best buddy" Teddy Blueger, with whom he was on a line at Shattck-St. Mary's School, and his good impressions and credentials of MSU coach Mike Hastings.
Stepan says that Ohio State gave him his "full release," which means there were no restrictions on his landing place once he decommitted. "They gave me my full release on my papers," he said. "THey were nice enough to let me be closer to my family and let me play where I wanted to play. I really appreciated that. It was more of a family thing than anything else. I have nothing against (OSU's new coach Steve) Rohlik."
This wasn't in the story, but when I asked Mike Hastings if he's thought of pairing Stepan with Blueger (they were quite successful on a line together at Shattuck), the coach said he's made no promises. "I'm sure there will be a day when they knock on my door and say, 'Coach can we talk? ... But it's a two-way street."
Here is Minnesota State's release about Stepan. He will be part of a class of seven freshmen, which includes his Waterloo Black Hawks teammate Mike Huntebrinker.
Earlier this week, I wrote a column about Stepan's commitment and how that should create even more excitement about the next year's Minnesota State team. And the excitement ought to be there regardless of what conference the Mavericks are playing in or what their home schedule looks like. Too many people get hung up on MSU's opponent rather than the home team. And next year the home team's going to be pretty darn good.
This week Stepan was one of 40 forwards and defensemen selected for the U.S. World Junior Team evaluation camp, which will take place in August in Lake Placid, N.Y. If he makes that team, he will be the first MSU player to do so (Blueger was the first to play in the World Junior Championships, playing for Latvia last year). He'd also play against his Minnesota State teammates in an exhibition game in Mankato scheduled for Dec. 17. So that could be fun.
Stepan will have a busy summer. He's moving to Mankato at the end of the month and taking two classes as he begins offseason workouts. He'll attend the Nashville Predators' prospect camp in July and the U.S. World Junior camp in August.