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Hockey: Bigelbach commits to MSU

Red Wing’s Michael Bigelbach (left) verbally committed to Minnesota State University, Mankato this week to continue his hockey career in college. Bigelbach will play for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers this upcoming winter. (R-E file photo)

Getting ready for his first season in the United States Hockey League, Red Wing’s Michael Bigelbach will eventually head back to southern Minnesota to play in college.

On Thursday, Bigelbach announced that he has verbally committed to play college hockey for Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“I always dreamed of going to Minnesota State. It’s close to home and the coaching staff is pretty great,” Bigelbach said on Friday. “They’re down-to-earth people and don’t put themselves in front of other people. The program’s going in the right direction right now.”

Bigelbach went the junior hockey route in what would have been his senior year at Red Wing High School this past winter, tallying four goals and 12 assists as a defenseman for the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros and Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets in the North American Hockey League. During his junior season in Red Wing, he accounted for eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games.

While with Minot, Bigelbach made his connection with with Minnesota State.

“I talked to them for the first time after a game in Austin,” said Bigelbach, who said he also received interest from Bemidji State during the recruiting process. “We just kind of kept on talking, and in the last couple of months we’ve talked a lot, the last month especially. I went on an unofficial visit a couple weeks ago.”

In the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Association this past winter, the Mavericks emerged as one of the conference’s top teams, going 26-14-1, including 20-7-1 in WCHA play. It was enough to give Minnesota State a bid into the NCAA tournament, where the team lost 2-1 in the first round of the Northeast Regional to Massachusetts-Lowell.

Bigelbach is the third member of Red Wing’s 2014 graduating class to commit to MSU for hockey. Girls hockey standouts Nicole Schammel and Emily Stegora committed to the Mavericks’ women’s hockey team.

There will be some delayed gratification for Bigelbach as he prepares for the college game. A 6-foot-2, 175-pound blue-liner, Bigelbach will play this winter for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Omaha selected him in the second round of the Phase II draft back in May.

“(Minnesota State) wants me to come in in 1-to-2 years, depending on how this year in Omaha goes,” Bigelbach said. “(Committing) is a big relief off my shoulders, for sure. Now I can just go have fun and play the game in juniors and try to get better every day.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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