Oilers defenceman going blue with Wolverines
Hockey: Nick Blankenburg commits to NCAA's University of Michigan
Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 06:00 am
Leaving home has brought a future Wolverine back to familiar surroundings.
First-year Okotoks Oilers defenceman Nick Blankenburg is headed back to his home state in the fall after committing to play his next four years of hockey with NCAA powerhouse University of Michigan Wolverines.
“They knew my name from playing around Michigan and they heard I was playing in the AJHL,” said Blankenburg, a native of Washington Township, Michigan. “I went home for Christmas, went on my official visit and after that the rest is history.
“The arena, the facilities, everything is top-notch and high class with the way they treat their players.”
Playing in the Big-10 against the heavyweight schools in the Midwest the Wolverines have been among the most successful programs in NCAA history, their nine national championships is the most in the country.
Recently the Wolverines have shown a consistent ability to develop dynamic defencemen reflected by the rise of Columbus Blue Jacket super sophomore Zach Werenski and current top 2018 NHL Draft prospect Quinn Hughes, to name a few.
Blankenburg who plays the game at a frenetic pace at both ends of the ice, sees a real fit for his tool kit in Ann Arbor.
“It’s close to home and they’ve had really good success in the past,” he said. “Especially with moving d-men on and with d-men success. The fact they’re in the Big-10, they play in such a competitive conference, it’s nice to have that opportunity to go there for four years, they have so much to offer.”
Recruited as the lone import on the roster, Blankenburg quickly caught on in Okotoks with his combination of explosive speed and inimitable competitiveness.
In his first year in the Alberta Junior Hockey League the 5-foot-8 defenceman has nine goals and 26 points in 37 games.
“Nick has shown in only a handful of games in the AJHL that he’s among one of the league’s best defencemen,” said Oilers head coach Tyler Deis. “From defending to creating quality scoring chances, Nick has made our hockey club dangerous every time he’s on the ice. Being from Michigan we couldn’t be happier he’s going to be playing college hockey close to home.”
The 1998-born blueliner will be the first Oilers alumnus to suit up for the Wolverines. He joins a growing group of teammates with scholarships including Austin Wong (Harvard), Jacob Bernard-Docker (North Dakota) and Dylan Holloway (University of Wisconsin).
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca