Minnesota Wild 2013 sixth round selection Avery Peterson has committed to the NCAA’s University of Nebraska-Omaha starting in the 2014-15 season.
A dominant performer in the Minnesota high school ranks, Peterson likely takes his skillset to Sioux City of the United States Hockey League and forgo his senior season in Grand Rapids. Avery is coming off his best season yet, tallying 27 goals and 35 assists for 62 points and just two penalty minutes in 26 games. Following the conclusion of his season in Minnesota, Peterson would join the “Muskies” (Sioux City) for eight games, scoring a goal and three assists for four points and a plus-3 rating.
A big pivot at 6’2″ and 192-pounds, Peterson always seems to show a knack for scoring big goals, including two for Hockey Day Minnesota host town Grand Rapids this past January. His impressive play last season was enough for Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to take a flier on him at 167th overall in June’s draft. A full season in the Tier-1 USHL will go a long way towards his development before he finally takes the ice for Dean Blais at UNO.
Here’s what Tim How of the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks had to say:
Grand Rapids senior forward Avery Peterson has committed to play college hockey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for head coach Dean Blais. Peterson, who is riding a 24-game high school point streak, will bring a model of consistency to the Mavericks program.
“He’s the kind of kid you really dream about having in your locker room and on the rink because he is more driven than just about anybody I’ve ever met,” assistant coach Tony Clafton said.
Clafton went on to tell a story about a youth player who was pretending to be Peterson and scoring goals at will. Peterson is the kind of player that motivates and drives a small town and community that is so into its hockey program. Simply put, Peterson is a fun player to have around.
Peterson has been part of three Grand Rapids varsity clubs, two of which have played in Section 7AA finals against Duluth East. The lanky Minnesota Wild draft pick led the club with 27 goals and 62 points last season. He amassed 46 points as a sophomore and 24 points as a freshman for the Thunderhawks. His unique skill set has allowed him to dominate the high school game.
“UNO is lucky to have him,” Clafton said. “He’s a big kid who won’t stop and won’t quit. That’s what’s made him a phenomenal high school hockey player.
“He’s one of the first to call or text to see if the outdoor rinks will be open on a Saturday and he gets on the horn to get the kids to come out and play.”
Peterson, who was unavailable for comment on Wednesday night, is also a product of the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers. He scored a goal and four points in eight games after the high school season last year. The Minnesota Wild drafted him in the 6th round of the National Hockey League draft this summer. Now, he has committed to play for the Mavericks in Omaha.
To say it has been a big summer for the youngster would be an understatement.
Clafton compared Peterson’s demeanor to Joe Stejskal, who graduated from Grand Rapids in 2007 and went on to play collegiately at Dartmouth and has played professional in the American Hockey League and the ECHL. Both players are tall and love to play physical on the ice. Off the ice, both are funny, joys to be around, and most importantly very reliable.
Peterson has led by example on and off the ice for the Thunderhawks and he hasn’t even started his senior campaign yet.
“Being old for his age, the younger kids have really clung on to that as much as they can,” Clafton said.
“He has tons of experience, and that naturally turns you into a leader. He learned a lot from the older guys on what works and what doesn’t.”
Peterson has scored at least a point in 29 of his last 30 high school games and Grand Rapids will need him to continue on a similar pace for the 2013-14 season. Clafton stated the obvious in saying the team will rely heavily on Peterson and goalie Hunter Shepard to carry the team during the upcoming season under newly named head coach John Rothstein.