Two current teammates for the Wichita Falls Wildcats decided to announce their commits to Michigan Tech just hours apart on Tuesday night. The first was defenseman Seamus Donohue. The Wildcat's captain had previously committed to Air Force while he was still in high school with St. Thomas Academy (Minn.). Donohue played varsity hockey for St. Thomas for all four years, including two state titles in Minnesota's lower division. Going into his senior year, Chris Dilks from SBN College Hockey had Donohue as a top five prospect among seniors and while listing him as a on of his 10 favorites for Mr Hockey Minnesota said this:
As mentioned in Dilks' quote, Donohue participated in the Upper Midwest Elite League, but what was even more interesting is that the North Oaks, Minn. native participated in the UMEL three times, including a rare invite as a sophomore. After high school, Donohue headed up to Canada and played a season for the Penticton Vees (BCHL) where he finished thirteenth on the team in scoring, but fourth among defensemen. Those three defensemen ahead of him on the stat sheet? North Dakota's Colton Poolman, BU's Dante Fabbro and future Denver Pioneer Griffin Mendel.
For whatever reason, Donohue moved on from the BCHL and is now the captain of Wichita Falls. So far this season he's had 3 goals and 12 assists through 24 games, tied for the team lead among blueliners. Donohue has been a leader for most of his career and will be expected to continue to grow as a responsible, puck-moving defenseman with above-average skating ability. NeutralZone, a scouting service focused on NCAA and CHL prospects playing in North America, tweeted out their ranking of Donohue:
Donohue's teammate and Wichita's leading scorer decided to get in on the fun only hours later. Aleksi Poikola committed so closely to his captain that THG almost missed it, thinking it was just another tweet about Donohue. Poikola is a native of Espoo, Finland and is in his second season of hockey with Wichita Falls after playing mostly for his hometown Espoo Blues. The forward leads his team in assists (16) and points (24) and is one goal off the lead in that category (he has 8). His 24 points is good enough for 28th in the league. Last season, his first in North America, Poikola finished seventh on the team in scoring (11G-27A-38P) in 48 games and racked up 8 more points in 9 playoff games.
In his career, Poikola has been recognized as NAHL Division Star of the Week twice:
- February 1, 2016 after scoring three goals and two assists in two games, including a +3 rating on the weekend.
- November 14, 2106 after scoring two goals and an assist during a home sweep of Amarillo.
NeutralZone also had a tweet rating Poikola pretty highly for his age group:
Poikola has done a great job in transitioning to NAHL hockey over his brief time here and will likely complete the 2017-18 recruiting class for Michigan Tech. Coach Pearson did mention that he was working on a some Scandinavian players during one of his radio shows and Poikola fits the bill. He should fit right in with the Copper Country's long heritage and Michigan Tech's style of play.
Both of these players probably will look to help the team more long term than immediately, but then again Alex Smith wasn't expected to be tied for the lead in scoring for the Huskies as a freshman, but that's where he currently sits. Coach Pearson has a great track record of finding players to contribute even if on paper they don't appear to be "Five Star" recruits. We'll try to get more scouting reports on these two future Huskies as part of our next Recruiting Grounds story on the NAHL.
Feature Image courtesy of Troy Young