The Fargo Force knew they needed to fill a few specific needs in the United States Hockey League Entry Draft. They used their first pick, which didn’t come until 20th overall, to take goaltender Tomas Sholl to start the search of Zane Gothberg’s replacement. With their second pick, the organization went on the offensive.
Fargo selected Matt Pohlkamp out of Lake City, Minn. with the 42nd overall pick in the draft. The third rounder starred for three seasons at Brainerd High School and nearly led the Warriors to the state tournament during his senior season. His club was ultimately knocked off by the local Moorhead Spuds, 3-1, in the Section 8AA final.
Pohlkamp burst onto the scene with a big sophomore season that saw him net an impressive 20 goals and 36 points in 25 regular season games. His notoriety grew during his junior season when he scored another 30 goals and finished with 58 regular season points.
He continued to be a scoring threat during his senior year, netting 25 goals and finishing with a career best 35 assists in the regular season. The offensive onslaught helped the 6-foot, 197 pound forward earn a commitment to Bowling Green University; the same school that Fargo’s first pick Sholl is committed to.
Playing in both ends of the rink is a key at the USHL level and Pohlkamp has proven he can do that as well. The Minnesota Hockey Hub credited him with 160 hits and a plus-minus rating of plus-53 last season. That’s an average of 6.4 hits per game and a plus-2 on a nightly basis, but who’s counting?
Pohlkamp wrapped up his high school career with 154 points in 75 regular season games. While that’s certainly a flashy number, one could understand if teams were a bit scared off by the weaker Central Lakes Conference schedule that Brainerd plays. Any of those doubts were eliminated with his play in the Elite League, which brings in the top competition from Minnesota and the surrounding area.
“Matt’s commitment and attitude during the High School Elite League, along with his play during the Great 8 and NIT this spring, moved him to the top of many teams list,” Brainerd coach Jim Archibald told the Brainerd Dispatch.
During the Elite League, Pohlkamp netted six goals and finished with 15 points, which was good enough for fifth on Team North behind talented players like Duluth East’s Trevor Olson and Dom Toninato, who is also a piece of the Fargo Force puzzle.
Davis told Slightly Chilled that the team had been watching Pohlkamp through Elite League and the high school seasons and they were pleased with his growth. He also said that they hope Pohlkamp can replace a little bit of what they are losing with Jonny Brodzinski heading to St. Cloud State University.
Fargo finished with 188 goals in 2011-12, which was their third lowest total in the organization’s four-year existence. A guy like Pohlkamp could potentially boost that total closer to 200.
Pohlkamp is with several other Force hopefuls in St. Paul this weekend where the Force is conducting its tryout camp. The team was set to return as many as 16 players for next season, but after the NAHL draft that may change.
Four Fargo players went in the NAHL draft, with Nick Stoskopf going fourth overall. Chief scout Jesse Davis said in a text message that the team won’t know if any of the NAHL picks will leave the team until after the tryout camp this weekend.
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