Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Avery Peterson Transferring to UMD

Big news midweek, though it won't affect UMD's on-ice product for approximately one year.

Former Grand Rapids high school hockey star Avery Peterson, who left Omaha a few weeks ago, is transferring to UMD. The move has not been announced by the school. Fox 21's Greg Chandler (follow him on Twitter @sportsguygregc for more details) was first on the story.

Peterson scored 11 goals as a freshman for Omaha last season as the Mavericks advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four. He had just one point in 14 games this season before deciding to leave school prior to the end of first semester. While an Omaha World-Herald story on his decision didn't quote Peterson, it speculated he would attempt to transfer closer to home.
(Peterson) has a brother at home in Minnesota who is suffering from a rare illness called metachromatic leukodystrophy.

Evan Peterson was diagnosed with the genetic, neurological, progressive, terminal disease in early 2013. Blais said Avery Peterson didn’t talk about it much, but it was certainly something he struggled with.

“He kept everything to himself,” (UNO coach Dean) Blais said. “He didn’t want to be a distraction to the team, which you give him credit for. Obviously, we’re having a pretty good year without him having a good year production-wise. But that could be all to do with his worries and concern for his brother ... I think part of the reason he didn’t do well was because mentally it was just draining him because of his brother’s condition.”

Peterson may look into transferring to a school closer to home, Blais said. He would have to sit out until January 2017, although he is still young enough to return to junior hockey this season if he’d want to.

... (Jake) Guentzel, UNO’s junior captain, said it was tough to see a teammate, roommate and friend go.

“He talked to us and said he’s just got to do it. His brother is going through a hard time,” he said. “We respect it and wish him the best. I obviously love him. If this makes him happy, you’ve got to respect it.”
Prior to joining UNO, Peterson won Minnesota Mr. Hockey at Grand Rapids in 2014 and became the Thunderhawks' all-time leading scorer. He was a sixth-round pick of the Wild in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Peterson will have a year and a half of eligibility starting next January. He can begin practicing with UMD in a week and change when the spring semester starts. While he has eligibility to play junior hockey for the rest of this season, he isn't expected to do so. Peterson can attempt to gain an extra year of eligibility through an NCAA waiver, and indications are he will at least try to make that happen.

Watch for updates, both here and on Twitter (@bruceciskie).

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