Eagan High School of Minnesota teammates Will Merchant and Sam Wolfe have verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on hockey scholarships.
Merchant, a left wing, is one of 10 Mr. Hockey finalists in Minnesota and Wolfe is a point-producing defenseman.
Merchant will join the Black Bears next fall and Wolfe will come to Orono in the fall of 2013.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Merchant leads the Wildcats in goals with 22 in 23 games. He also has 20 assists. He has four power-play goals and four shorthanded goals.
The 6-2, 190-pound Wolfe has two goals and 22 assists in 23 games.
Merchant led the Wildcats in goals during the 2010-2011 season with 28 to go with 20 assists in 25 games and Wolfe had 10 goals, 19 assists in 25 games.
“Will has a very quick release on a very accurate shot,” said Eagan coach Mike Taylor. “And he can all-out fly. He is also very creative and has good ice vision. His offensive upside is unbelievable. He can be a banger, too.”
Taylor said once Merchant adapts to the pace and the strength required to play at the college level “he’ll be one of their top six forwards.”
Taylor said Wolfe is “really gifted with the puck.”
“He’s an unbelievable stick-handler who can break out by himself [with his stick-handling skills],” said Taylor. “He can also play physical and block shots.”
Taylor said Wolfe will have to learn “when to move the puck [quickly]” and when he can stick-handle at the college level.
The 18-year-olds said Maine is a good fit for them.
“I really liked the atmosphere and how big hockey is out there,” said Merchant. “Even though it’s far away from home, it felt comfortable. I know I can do well scholastically and hockey-wise. I met the coaches and most of the players and I really liked all of them.”
Merchant, who saw Maine beat Boston College 4-3 in overtime, feels he needs to get stronger and develop his speed.
Wolfe said he “really liked the school and the crowd” at Alfond Arena. He attended Maine’s 4-3 overtime win over Alabama-Huntsville.
He also liked the coaches and players and feels he needs to “get better at everything” over the next year and a half.
Wolfe will play either in the United States [junior] Hockey League next year or for the Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League.
Both players were recruited by other Division I schools and they said they are looking forward to being teammates at Maine since they are close friends.
Their coming to Maine is contingent upon their acceptance into the school and their meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.