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Quick thinking

By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor, 06/13/12, 3:12PM CDT


Former Hill-Murray star Charlie Sampair makes last-minute decision to play at UMD

Hill-Murray's Charlie Sampair (14), a Mr. Hockey finalist last season, will play for Minnesota-Duluth in 2012-13. Photo by Helen Nelson

Charlie Sampair

Charlie Sampair is used to moving at high speeds. 
As one of the state’s fastest skaters, he rocketed his way to 30 goals, 21 assists, Mr. Hockey finalist honors and an appearance in the state Class 2A championship game last season with Hill-Murray.
Sampair, rated by longtime Pioneers coach Bill Lechner as one of the speediest players he’s ever worked with, had to make some unexpectedly quick moves recently when positioning himself for next season.
All set for a season of junior hockey, likely in the USHL, Sampair was awaiting the results of the league’s entry draft and wondering what city become his new home. 
College hockey was an afterthought. Sampair had a July visit set up with Lake Superior State and had corresponded with St. Lawrence University, Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage. He had no scholarship offers and plenty of time to shop around while waiting for one.
Then a roster spot opened at Minnesota-Duluth and a time-sensitive offer was made to Sampair.
“It was pretty last minute,” Sampair said. “They just called me up and said they have one more spot on the roster. 
“I was a little concerned about not having any junior experience.”

Charlie Sampair used his unmatched speed to score 30 goals and notch 21 assists last season for Hill-Murray. Photo by Helen Nelson

Sampair committed to the Bulldogs on the eve of the USHL’s Tuesday, May 22, entry draft. Sampair said the UMD coaching staff wanted to know his decision so it could then alert the league’s teams that he was headed straight to college after graduating from Hill-Murray.
Apparently, there was a glitch somewhere in the communication stream, as the Indiana Ice selected Sampair with their first-round pick (14th overall).
“Somewhere along the line, some sort of connection got screwed up with Indiana,” Sampair said. “They were a little upset.”
Weeks earlier, Sampair’s mother had suggested that he apply at schools that interested him. UMD was on his favorites list.
“I was all set to play juniors, but she said, ‘You just never know, you should apply somewhere,” the 6-foot-, 185-pound Sampair said. “I just picked Duluth for fun.”
Sampair will join a Bulldogs roster that includes former standout Pioneers defenseman Chris Casto. Hill-Murray defenseman Blake Heinrich, a junior last season, also has committed to play at UMD.
The Bulldogs will be getting a player Lechner believes can be a big asset to a program that is a season removed from winning a national championship.
“I think he is growing up and maturing,” Lechner said, pointing to Sampair’s dedication to weight training last season. “He’s got the tools. He can fly, and he’s got size.”
Sampair’s breakthrough senior campaign came after what he described as an terrible junior season. He scored six goals and had three assists as a junior after scoring 15 goals and registering seven assists as a sophomore.
“I had injury problems and attitude problems,” Sampair said about his junior season. “After that year I got it together. I tried to be in the weight room every day. I was so upset with how it went.”

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2011-12 Minnesota High School Division I Recruits

Name High School Year Pos. College Verbal Commit
Spencer Bell Maple Grove Senior F Wisconsin Yes
Grant Besse Benilde-St. Margaret's Junior F Wisconsin Yes
Jake Bischoff Grand Rapids Junior D Minnesota Yes
Michael Brodzinski Blaine Junior D Minnesota Yes
Andrew Commers St. Thomas Academy Senior F RPI Yes
Jordan Gross Maple Grove Junior D Notre Dame Yes
Jake Guentzel Hill-Murray Junior F Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Blake Heinrich Hill-Murray Junior D Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Christian Horn Benilde-St. Margaret's Senior F Minnesota Yes
Adam Johnson Hibbing Junior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Justin Kloos Lakeville South Senior F Minnesota Yes
Dan Labosky Benilde-St. Margaret's Junior F Colorado College Yes
Vinni Lettieri Minnetonka Junior F Minnesota Yes
Eli May Eagan Senior D Minnesota State Yes
Will Merchant Eagan Senior F Maine Yes
Lou Nanne Edina Junior F Minnesota Yes
Grant Opperman Breck Senior F Dartmouth Yes
Judd Peterson Duluth Marshall Senior F St. Cloud State Yes
Matt Pohlkamp Brainerd Senior F Bowling Green Yes
Jake Randolph Duluth East Senior F Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Charlie Sampair Hill-Murray Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Joe Schuldt Minnetonka Senior D Michigan Tech Yes
Eric Schurhamer St. Thomas Academy Senior D Maine Yes
Dylan Steman Maple Grove Senior F Michigan Tech Yes
Jared Thomas Hermantown Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Dom Toninato Duluth East Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Hunter Warner Eden Prairie Sophomore D Minnesota State Yes
Sam Wolfe Eagan Senior D Maine Yes
Michael Zajac Eagan Senior F Princeton Yes