Saturday, June 17, 2006, 09:56 AMUND grabbed a second commitment out of the BCHL's Vernon Vipers when left wing Hunter Bishop gave UND a verbal commitment Tuesday. The Sioux previously signed Vernon defenseman Chay Genoway.
Bishop scored 26 goals and had 33 assists in 66 games for Vernon last season. Bishop was on the USHL championship Cedar Rapids team in 2004-05, and he played for Fairbanks in the NAHL as a high school sophomore.
What kind of player is he? I asked his general manager at Vernon, Troy Mick.
Mick: He's one of the best skaters I've seen play in this league in a long time. His top-end speed is phenomenal. He is going to showcase his talents there. I think North Dakota got a great hockey player.
He put up good numbers last season, but they weren't as large as some guys like Erik Felde (Anchorage recruit).
Mick: He's going to take a bit to adjust. I was down there (Grand Forks) for the midget tournament last year and got a chance to see both games against Mankato. It took Matt Watkins, a guy who we had here, a little bit of time to adjust. There's usually an adjustment period for all players. One thing about Hunter, he will excel when he is comfortable. You have to remember that he is 18 years old and has already played three years of Junior A hockey. Our coach this year put him in every situation. He was able to kill penalties and play on the power play.
Can he be an impact player at UND?
Mick: No question. He's not going to score 50 points as a freshman, but he will excel every year he's at North Dakota. He has NHL speed. That's probably the toughest thing to do, is to get guys who can skate at that level. That's one area you won't have to worry about with Hunter Bishop. His forte is going to be speed. He may not be a huge point guy right away, but I can guarantee you he's going to be a huge asset to the team.
He sure is a well-spoken guy.
Mick: In his first year here, he was voted the fans' favorite player. He won over everybody. He does so many things in the community, his family is A-plus... he is everything you look for in a player when you are recruiting. He's a guy who works as hard off the ice as he does on the ice.
That's saying quite a bit, because Hunter says he takes pride in trying to always be the hardest-working guy on the ice.
Mick: If you had 21 guys who worked as hard as him, you'd be in the national championship every year. He's always working on his game. If he finds deficiencies in his game, he's a kid who will work on it. He wants to go to the next level. He wants to play pro hockey, and he's going to do what it takes to get there. I'll tell you a story. I went on a fishing trip to Fairbanks and I ended up staying in his room. All across the room, there aren't pictures of girls or anything like that. He has quotes from coaches and famous people saying how to make him better each day. You don't see that a whole lot with guys his age.
Being so young, does that mean he has potential to continue improving quite a bit?
Mick: He started the year all right and finished the year on fire. I think his development here last year is a big reason he's going to North Dakota. He made the all-star team last year, and he's just hitting the tip of the ice berg on what he can do. We thought he was coming back here next year, and we had him pinned as a 100-point guy. He is going to be sorely missed in this organization.