It’s been a difficult stretch for goaltender Cameron Rowe. The backup to first-round pick Spencer Knight for the U.S. National Team Development Program this season, Rowe nevertheless entered the draft expecting to be selected based on countless reports. NHL Central Scouting in particular ranked him as the No. 4 goaltender in North America. Yet, the young netminder did not hear his name called this year. Now, his future is changing again. According to Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, the University of North Dakota has released Rowe from his commitment. Rowe was expected to arrive at North Dakota in 2020-21, but instead will be playing elsewhere. Schlossman reports that the Fighting Hawks staff grew frustrated with Rowe’s interest in pursuing the Canadian junior route instead of the NCAA path and did not want to wait around to find out if they had a starting goalie of the future or not. It’s unclear now what Rowe will do moving forward, although he is currently expected to play for the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers next season. Rowe could simply commit to a new college program or, as North Dakota suspected, could sign with the OHL’s London Knights, who own his CHL rights. Either way, the winding and unpredictable development path for Rowe is not done twisting and turning just yet.
- North Dakota also lost the commitment of BCHL forward Murphy Stratton, Schlossman writes. Stratton, 19, played 45 games for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen in 2016-17 before realizing that the major junior route was not for him. Stratton wished to pursue the collegiate route, but the NCAA considers the CHL to be a “professional league” barring former players from NCAA participation due to amateurism rules. In some cases, limited CHL action has been overlooked at a cost in terms of eligibility years, but Stratton’s half season would have been an unprecedented case. Yet, he still committed to UND last year, expecting a ban of one year and seven games to begin his sophomore year. Schlossman reports that Stratton recently found out that the ban would actually be much longer and has opted to change course on the college level as a result. He will not play at North Dakota nor any other NCAA program and is likely to return to the WHL. Over the past two years, Stratton has compiled 99 points in 110 games as arguably the best player for the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild, so this is a substantial loss for the Fighting Hawks. Stratton however should be able to continue pushing for pro hockey relevance if he can produce at a similar level in the WHL.
- Another Makar is headed to the University of Massachusetts. The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark reports that Taylor Makar, brother of Colorado Avalanche top prospect Cale Makar, has committed to UMass. Now, Taylor is not the player that Cale is; Taylor is an undrafted center who put up pedestrian numbers for the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits – another former team of Cale’s – this season. However, Taylor is likely familiar with head coach Greg Carvel and his staff and should head to a great environment for him to grow as a player and perhaps break out. No one is expecting Taylor to ever come close to his Hobey Baker-winning brother, but his tenure in Amherst will certainly be interesting to follow.