Following an illustrious three-year run with the Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) that spanned three Central Division titles and a Robertson Cup championship, Bryce Schmitt has capped off his junior hockey career by committing to play NCAA Division I hockey at Lake Superior State University.
"Moving on and playing D-I is the main reason I came to Bismarck to play junior hockey," explained Schmitt, who becomes the third member of the 2011-12 Bobcats to commit to a Division I program and the ninth to commit to an NCAA team. "It was a bit late in the game, coming in August, but that doesn't matter too much to me, I'm excited to play at a school with such a great tradition."
A product of Minot High School, where he was the Magicians' leading scorer in 2008-09, Schmitt overhauled his high-scoring high school game to fit the junior mold--adopting a stronger, more grinding style.
"Sometimes you see players who excel in high school try and force their game on junior hockey, and nine times out of ten it doesn't work," observed Bobcats head coach and general manager, who was assistant coach under Byron Pool for Schmitt's rookie season of 2009-10 before taking over behind the bench in 2010. "But Schmitty made the mature decision early on to change his style to fit in with the team and that's why he had such a productive career with Bobcat Hockey."
Schmitt finished second on the Bobcats' all-time games played list with 166 regular season contests, behind only Bobcat legend Matt Paluczak. In his three years, he tallied 24 goals and 39 assists.
In addition to being named captain of the 2011-12 squad, Schmitt was also selected to play for Team Central at the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, where he chipped in a pair of assists in three games as the Central captured the tournament championship.
The Lakers are charter members of the historic Central Collegiate Hockey Association, which will see its final season in 2012-13; Lake Superior State will join the Western College Hockey Association following college hockey's massive realignment during the 2013 offseason.
"There have been a few players from Minot to play at Lake State so my family and I reached out and had some conversations," noted Schmitt. "It was a pretty fast thing: Coach [Jim] Roque's staff called me on Thursday, but it didn't take long to figure out that it would be a great fit."
Having previously dreamed of becoming a firefighter, Schmitt plans to major in fire science at Lake Superior State. He will report to Sault Ste. Marie on August 22 to begin training for the 2012-13 season.
Schmitt joins Castan Sommer (Holy Cross) and Tommy Burke (Bowling Green) as Division I commits from the 2011-12 team and Donald Olivieri (Utica), Nick Miglio (Utica), Frank DeAugustine (UMass-Boston), Danny Ray (Wisconsin-Stout), Tyler Richter (St. Thomas) and Buster Hebda (Concordia [WI]) as NCAA commits for the upcoming year.