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Chris Murphy, Published May 08 2013

Four Spuds get selected in USHL draft

FARGO – Moorhead senior Thomas Carey had just walked in his house after working out Tuesday and the Lincoln Stars were up on the computer screen with the 89th pick in Phase 2 of the United States Hockey League draft. Then, the unthinkable happened.

“I was expecting to see my buddy go to them, but then I saw my name pop up,” Carey said. “I thought there was a mix-up. I was in disbelief for a second, but then I went crazy. I was loving it.”

Carey was one of four Moorhead hockey players selected in Phase 2 of the USHL draft. Sophomore defenseman Will Borgen was taken with the 109th pick by the Sioux City Musketeers, sophomore goalie Jacob Dittmer was taken 206th by Lincoln and the Fargo Force took senior forward Tony Uglem with the 373rd pick.

“It did take a while, but I was just happy to get drafted,” Uglem said. “I was just watching TV and my brother came down and told me I got drafted and I was like, ‘Awesome.’”

For Moorhead coach Pete Cullen, he says it’s a more a reflection of Moorhead youth hockey than his work.

“It’s not so much an honor for me, but for our whole program,” Cullen said. “It speaks volumes of the Moorhead Youth Hockey Association and the effort they put in and the continued product that comes out of it.”

Getting drafted does not guarantee anything but a chance to try out for the teams. Borgen and Dittmer will most likely focus on their Moorhead career as juniors next year, but for seniors like Carey and Uglem, it’s a chance to continue playing hockey.

Carey and Uglem both have tryouts in the North American Hockey League with the Brookings Blizzard and the Minnesota Magicians, respectively.

“Not many kids get to do it,” Carey said. “I’m just excited to get a chance to keep playing a sport I love.”

Cullen felt the Minnesota state tournament gave the Spuds the stage to show their talents, since the northern part of the state doesn’t always get as much as exposure as the metro area. It certainly helped current Lincoln goalie, Bemidji State commit and former Moorhead goalie Michael Bitzer, who made 137 saves on 141 shots in four playoff games for the Stars last month.

“For us guys up here in the north, we aren’t as recognized as people in the (Twin) Cities, and scouts don’t always get a good chance to see us, so when we get to the state tournament that really turns things around for kids,” Cullen said. “Look at what Michael Bitzer did last year. Getting to the state tournament opened up the eyes of everybody. We knew he was a legitimate goalie, but getting to the state tournament opened up everybody’s eyes.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548