Bobcats' Hilsendager commits to University of Western Michigan

By Jamie Harkins

March 16, 2017 12:00 AM

MICHIGAN BOUND Bobcats defenceman and Lloydminster native Daniel Hilsendager has committed to play for the University of Western Michigan Broncos. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Daniel Hilsendager’s future path will run through Kalamazoo, Mich.
The Lloydminster Bobcats star rookie defenceman has committed to play hockey for the University of Western Michigan Broncos of the NCAA Division 1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).
“Their coaching staff is pretty unreal,” said Hilsendager, 16. “Andy Murray has had 15 plus seasons coaching in the NHL. That’s pretty sweet because it comes down to experience and they’re amazing at getting D-men to the next level.”
Hilsendager, who grew up and played the majority of his minor hockey career in the Border City, said the Broncos scouting staff has been watching him compete since Christmas. He said Broncos assistant coach Dave Shyiak then made the trip to Lloydminster to see him play and the talks really picked up steam.
“They’re in the NCHC, which is the top division in college hockey,” he said. “I knew about them and North Dakota and all of those big schools. Everyone here in Western Canada just knows about the WHL and no one really knows about college, but I’d like to try and go the college and university route.”
Travis Clayton, head coach and general manager of the Bobcats, said a lot of kids choose to play junior A because it gives them a chance to move on to the NCAA, which deems players with major junior experience ineligible. He said Hilsendager set out at the beginning of the season to try and earn the chance to one day play in the NCAA and through his hard work, dedication and willingness to compete has been rewarded.
“Right from the get-go when we saw him in camp and exhibition games we knew he could play at the junior A level and he just took it another step further,” said Clayton, who signed Hilsendager last September. “He took it. It was something to watch on the ice. He forgot sometimes that he was 16-years-old just how he competed against some of the big 20 year olds out there. He didn’t lose too many battles.”
Clayton said he first got the opportunity to see Hilsendager in 2015-16 when the six-foot and 174-lb rearguard split time with the Lloydminster minor midget Rage and Lloydminster midget AAA Bobcats teams. He said his strong play in those leagues carried over to 2016-17 where Hilsendager led the way offensively from the blueline for the Bobcats notching six goals and 21 points.
“He played in every situation for us last year,” he said. “It’ll be the same thing (in 2017-18) and hopefully we can surround him with some good missing pieces that we need to fill. We’re excited. The sky is the limit with Daniel. I don’t want to put any pressure on him. I just want him to come in and do his thing and just keep developing as a player.”
Hilsendager said committing to the University of Western Michigan means he will likely spend the next two to three years developing his game with the Bobcats. He said that gives him a chance to stay with his family in Lloydminster for his teenage years while also helping his hometown team build upon the strides they made last season.
“Next year will be fun,” said Hilsendager. “I’ll definitely have much more of a role than this year. I had a big one (last season), but next year will be a lot better. We’ll have a lot more veterans, so it won’t be rookie strong.”

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