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Published May 22 2012

Force select California goalie with 20th overall pick

FARGO – No one was surprised when the Fargo Force took a goalie with their first pick.

Who they picked might have been a surprise.

The Force drafted Californian Tomas Sholl 20th overall on Tuesday in the United States Hockey League Entry Draft.

Picking Sholl could help fill a void left by Zane Gothberg, who will enter the University of North Dakota next season.

“Everyone we spoke to in the (North American Hockey League) said that he was a go-to goaltender in that league,” Force assistant coach and director of player personnel Jesse Davis said. “He was the closest thing to Zane Gothberg that we could find that was available.”

Gothberg was named the USHL’s Co-Goaltender of the Year on Tuesday.

His departure now means the Force will have two goaltenders with junior hockey experience next season.

Backup Reed Peters returns, while Sholl played in the North American Hockey League last season.

Goaltenders were a priority for many teams, and with Moorhead’s Michael Bitzer available, there was a chance for the Force to shop local.

The Force did stay in the area later in the draft by drafting Moorhead forward Aaron Herdt.

“I got a text from Jesse Davis saying that he just drafted me,” Herdt said. “My parents got excited about it too. It’s great to get drafted by Fargo because it’s right here.”

Sholl, who is only 17, is already committed to a Division I school in Bowling Green. He went 20-14-6 with a 2.38 goals against average and two shutouts.

Eight spots later, the Lincoln Stars selected Bitzer. In the 21st round, Lincoln selected Fargo’s Garrett Brossart, who formerly played at South.

Bitzer, 18, recently completed one of the most accomplished seasons of any Moorhead player.

He led the Spuds to a Minnesota state hockey tournament appearance, parlaying it into an award-filled experience. The most notable award he picked up was winning the Frank Brimsek Award, which is given to Minnesota’s best senior goaltender.

Bitzer, who also plays baseball, was facing Detroit Lakes when he was drafted.

“It didn’t matter who drafted me,” Bitzer said. “I just want an opportunity to play in the USHL and play for a good organization.”

With the Force and Stars being conference rivals, there’s a good chance Bitzer could face his hometown team up to eight times next season.

Aside from adding Sholl, the Force were busy restocking the shelves for next season and beyond.

The Force added five forwards and seven defensemen.

In all, the Force selected four players with college commitments, two of them being forwards Matt Pohlkamp – a Bowling Green commit – and Brett Boehm – a Minnesota-Duluth commit.

Pohlkamp played this season at Brainerd, scoring 64 points (27 goals, 37 assists) in 64 games.

Boehm, who is 17, played midget hockey in Saskatchewan, where he led the league in scoring with 80 points (35 goals, 45 assists) in 39 games.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com