Friday, April 15, 2011

Justin Faulk Moves On

The national champion UMD Bulldogs are up to two (2) early departures as the offseason gets rolling.

Junior forward Mike Connolly signed with the San Jose Sharks this week, and freshman defenseman Justin Faulk -- as was somewhat expected -- has followed him out the proverbial door.

Faulk agreed to terms Friday with the Carolina Hurricanes, the team announced Friday.

As a freshman at UMD, Faulk had a great season, quickly establishing himself as one of the league's best offensive defensemen. He scored eight goals -- including two game-winners -- and had 33 points in 39 games. He missed three games while with Team USA at the World Junior Championships.

“Justin is a gifted offensive defenseman who excels on the power play and has a big shot from the point,” said VP and assistant general manager Jason Karmanos. “He had a hugely successful year at Duluth and with his strength and build, we feel that he is ready to begin his professional career.”

Faulk got better as the season wore on, and he was simply a beast in the NCAA Frozen Four. He didn't score any goals, but he was a key player offensively in UMD's 4-3 semifinal win over Notre Dame, helping set up three goals while showing his improvement as a defensive player. Faulk routinely won physical battles and races in the UMD zone, preventing Notre Dame from getting players and pucks too close to goalie Kenny Reiter.

In the championship game, he struggled a bit with the puck, but didn't struggle nearly as much with his positioning or understanding of his defensive responsibilities.

To be blunt, Faulk wasn't going to get much -- if any -- better at UMD. It was time for him to move on, and UMD fans should simply tip their cap, thank him for making such an impact this season, and wish him well at the next level.

His three-year contract kicks in next season, paying him a signing bonus of $270,000, according to the Hurricanes. He will join the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League as they compete in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Charlotte upset two-time defending champion Hershey 5-4 Thursday night in the opening game of their best-of-seven series.

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