Michigan Tech has had interest Jack Becker for a long time. On Monday, they finally received a commitment from the 19-year-old. He currently plays forward for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL but was originally recruited by former assistant coach Billy Muckalt while Becker was still playing high school hockey with his home town Mahtomedi Zephyrs.
The Huskies have been near the top of the list for the 6'3" forward from the beginning, partially because his father, Russ, played for the Huskies in the 1980s while Mel Pearson was an assistant coach under Jim Nahrgang and Herb Boxer. The other part was recognition by the staff that Becker could be special, even though he wasn't exactly playing the best teams Minnesota has to offer since Mahtomedi is in the lower Class A.
Becker garnered a lot of interest from other schools after his performance in the 2015 Minnesota Class A State Tournament. In the sectional playoffs, he scored three goals and eight assists in just three games to win the Section 4A Title and a trip to the state tournament. Once there, Becker helped lead the Zephyrs to their best finish ever (3rd place) and in three games at the Xcel Energy Center, his star showed the brightest.
In the state quarter-final against New Ulm, Becker single-handedly made the difference in the game, scoring a hattrick as the team won 6-3. Each goal was scored a different way: one even strength, one shorthanded and one on the power play. In the semi-finals, Mahtomedi fell to the eventual champions, East Grand Forks, 5-2 and Becker was held to just one assist. In the third-place game, he again found his scoring touch, tallying two goals, both shorthanded. During the tournament, Becker was dominant on faceoffs, going 36-23.
Those huge results under the bright lights of the Minnesota State Tournament lead teams like Wisconsin to take notice. Becker committed to Wisconsin in June of 2015, a little over three month after his spectacular tournament run. Less than than a week after his commitment, Becker was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins (195th overall).
During his first full season with Sioux Falls, Becker put up 8 goals and 14 assists and was sixth on the team in scoring. In the Stampede's lone playoff series, Becker also managed another goal to put his final line for 2015-16 at 61GP 9G-14A-23P. Before that playoff series even started, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves was fired. When the new staff was brought in, a lot of changes were made and eventually six players decommitted: Adam Parsells, Tony Stillwell, Matt Berkovitz, Philip Nyberg, Max Gildon and Jack Becker.
Nyberg is already playing for Connecticut and Gildon is probably the most heralded of the group, coming in at #76 on the newly released North American Skaters Midterm Report published by NHL Central Scouting. The Huskies focused on the big power center, with their history, and finally got their man on Monday. In his current season with Sioux Falls, Becker is scoring points at a slightly higher rate (41% over 38% of games) but is currently eighth on his team in scoring. While his assist rate has fallen off a bit, he is just two goals short of tying his total from last year in less than half as many games. His current score line is 29GP 7G-5A-12P with three of those goals coming in his last two games.
Becker continues a trend for the Huskies of adding size, he's the third forward to commit since November with a height of 6'2" or taller, joining Marcus Mitchell and Greyson Reitmeier in that category. It also seems likely that his addition means another forward that THG had slated to join the team in Fall 2017 will get pushed back. Right now, the best guess is that both Jackson Cates and Mitch Newsome will have to wait their turn and join the team in 2018. That leaves Becker to join a forward class of Tommy Parrottino, Aleksi Poikola, Marcus Russell and Greyson Reitmeier in 2017. All five of these forwards have committed to the Huskies in the last three months. For more information on how things will break down, check out our updated Recruiting Grid. One of Becker's first actions after announcing his commitment was to follow @TechHockeyGuide on Twitter. We reached out to him after that to see what he had to say about joining Michigan Tech and playing in front of Mitch's Misfits and the whole community:
Recruit of the Fortnight
I apologize again that we have not had a new edition of Recruiting Grounds in over a month. I promise that the next segment, covering the AJHL, will be released in two weeks and I'll try my best to stay on schedule after that. For now, you'll have to settle for our Recruit of the Fortnight here. This time we recognize Mitch Newsome. He's had limited action this season, playing just five games before getting injured in October. It took him five games after his return in early December to earn a point and it didn't come until his first games of 2017. Since that game, he's scored 4 goals and 3 assists in 8 games for the Coquitlam Express (BCHL).
During the last two weeks, he had two multi-point games and was recognized as the Second Star of the game in a 6-3 win over Cowichan Valley. If he can keep this pace, and the staff thinks he's fully healed and ready for the call-up, he may get his shot to join the Huskies next season instead of Tommy Parrottino.
Feature Image courtesy of Sioux Falls Stampede Hockey Club.