Apparently Michigan Tech wasn't quite done with recruiting for next season. Last week the Huskies picked up a commitment from the BCHL Interior Division MVP, Brent Baltus. Baltus is a forward for the Trail Smoke Eaters. The 6' 1" sniper had verbally committed to Alaska Anchorage in November but the departure of Dave Shyiak in Anchorage opened the door for Baltus to reevaluate things and Michigan Tech jumped at the chance to add another scorer to this year's class. Baltus is in his second year with the Smoke Eaters and has developed his skills in the BCMML and VIJHL. In 2009–10 as a 17-year-0ld forward, the Nainamo, B.C., native finished second on his BCMML team, the North Island Silvertips, behind current Boston College forward Evan Richardson, who also lead the BCMML in scoring. Baltus finished 8th in the league in points and 4th in the league in goals with 27 goals and 51 points in 40 games. His 27 goals were only behind Richardson, Curtis Loik (currently with Penn State), and Connor Rankin (1st round pick by of the Tri-City Americans, WHL). Richardson and Baltus lead the Silvertips to a playoff berth but lost in the quarterfinals to Greater Vancouver Canadiens.
Baltus moved on to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) where he played for the Oceanside Generals. Baltus was the leading scoring for Oceanside with 23 goals and 45 points in 38 games. The forward was also top 11 in both points and goals for the league. Baltus was recognized by VIJHL in receiving the Jaime Robertson trophy for most sportsmanlike player. In the playoffs, Baltus helped lead the Generals to the league semifinals after defeating Kerry Park in the first round of the playoffs.
His success at North Island and Oceanside earned the forward a chance in the BCHL. He played in nine games for two different teams after the completion of his season with Oceanside before settling in with Trail. In his first season with Trail, Baltus finished with 14 goals and 30 points, good enough for top four on the Smoke Eaters in both categories and earning him Trail's Most Improved Player Award. This past season, he really exploded as a legitimate college hockey prospect with his team-leading 24 goals and 51 points in 47 games. That stat line left him tied for 14th in goals and 22nd in points league-wide and earned him Trail Smok Eaters Co-MVP. Baltus was recognized as an Interior Division 2nd team All-Star, one of three future Huskies to make a BCHL All-Star team (Shane Hanna, 1st Team Interior Division; Dane Birks, All Rookie Team). Shortly before Dave Shyiak was let go by Alaska Anchorage, Baltus was awarded the Interior Division MVP.
Tech Hockey Guide spoke with Brent about his commitment and here's what he had to say:
[quote align="center"]I'm very excited about the opportunity to further my education and hockey career at Michigan Tech. It is a great hockey program with a great coaching staff and I can't wait to be a part of it.[/quote]
It will be a difficult hit for Alaska Anchorage as they navigate the reorganized WCHA with a new coach and without their most impressive recruit but the Seawolves' loss is most definitely a huge gain for Michigan Tech. Baltus joins a class that is now nearly complete. Baltus will join Tyler Heinonen (Delano, Minn.), Michael Neville (Woodbridge, Ont.) and Reid Sturos (South Lyon, Mich.) as rookie forwards while the blueline will be bolstered by Shane Hanna (Salmon Arm, B.C.), Chris Leibinger (Saginaw, Mich.) and potentially Marcus Ericsson (Luleå, Sweden). The Huskies are still in search of a goaltender to replace senior Kevin Genoe, but otherwise the 2013–14 Huskies roster looks complete. With all-star caliber players from multiple leagues, Michigan Tech looks to be headed in the right direction including their latest addition, Brent Baltus.