Published June 08 2011
Moorhead's Brenk to skip senior season and play in USHL
It was a choice Moorhead’s Eric Brenk made when he told Dave Morinville he wasn’t coming back for his senior season so he could play in the United States Hockey League.
“It was tough to talk to him and tell the guys I wasn’t coming back,” said Brenk, who will play with the Sioux Falls Stampede next season. “I was nervous telling them, but I had to do it.”
The 6-1, 193-pound Brenk was drafted by Sioux Falls in the USHL Entry Draft just a few weeks ago and attended the team’s tryout camp over the weekend.
Sioux Falls plays in the same conference as the Fargo Force.
He showed the skills that helped him score 27 points in 26 games last season en route to helping the Spuds to another state tournament appearance.
The coaching staff told Brenk they liked his game and asked him if he wanted to play for the Stampede next season
Brenk said he did but making that decision was a process that was very much in the making.
“He’s had the USHL contacting him for the last two years,” said Brenk’s father, Paul. “A lot of the recruiters from the USHL teams ask if a kid is willing to either play in high school or play for them.”
What junior leagues like the USHL offer is a chance for players like Brenk to develop and attract attention from college and NHL scouts.
But it also means, in most cases, players will have to give up certain opportunities.
In Minnesota, for example, it is giving up the chance to play in the Minnesota state boys hockey tournament, the most watched high school tournament in the nation.
Players can leave their USHL teams and return to their high schools.
Eden Prairie product and Minnesota forward Kyle Rau did it this season when he left Sioux Falls to help the Eagles win a state title.
Morinville said Brenk told him he would be spending the whole season at Sioux Falls.
“I’ve coached juniors and in college, and I’ve been on both sides of it,” said Morinville, who coached in the USHL. “You make sure he’s making the right decision with all the information possible.”
Leaving Moorhead means Brenk will be leaving home for the first time and moving to a new city.
He’ll be living with a billet family, which means he’ll have to adjust to a different home life too.
It means he’ll be enrolling into a new school where he’ll be around people he’s never known.
Playing in the USHL also means he’ll have to work toward finding a balance between getting homework completed between road games.
“I know a couple guys in the USHL now, and they’ve told me it is hard,” Brenk said. “But they said the USHL is a lot of fun and there is time to get your homework done. It is a really good environment for development. It sounds tough, but the people in the USHL have those things figured out.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.
Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com