Trio of Lumberjacks NCAA bound

Press Release

THUNDER BAY, Ont. -On Thursday, the SIJHL announced that three members of the Wisconsin Lumberjacks have earned themselves the opportunity to attend college and play NCAA Division III hockey next season.

Goaltender Matt Fitzgerald will be heading to Concordia College in Moorhead, Mn. to join the Cobbers program, who compete out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Meanwhile, defenceman Cam Birkeland and forward Parker Brakebill are both heading to Fredonia State to compete in the State University of New York Athletic Conference, which the Blue Devils are members of.

Fitzgerald, a 20-year-old native of Bemidji, Mn., saw limited action as part of the three-goaltender tandem the first-year Lumberjacks employed in their initial campaign in the SIJHL.

As for Birkeland, he was a solid defender for Wisconsin and served as team captain.

He also contributed offensively, leading his club in scoring from the back-end with 27 points on eight goals and 19 assists. His numbers placed him ninth among all league blueliners.

Three of his tallies were game-winners, which tied him for the SIJHL lead among rearguards.

The 20-year-old from Alexandria, Mn. played 87 career games in the league after spending last season with the Minnesota Iron Rangers.

Brakebill, is from Yorba Linda, Calif. and is another 20-year-old.

He was a 25-point performer for the Lumberjacks, including notching 11 markers in 43 outings while having seven multi-point performances on the year.

Last Wednesday, the SIJHL announced that a pair of its top netminders this season have committed to college programs to further their educations, while continuing their respective hockey careers.

SIJHL Top Goaltender Award honouree Zach Willms of the Red Lake Miners will be off to Fredonia State where the Blue Devils men’s hockey program compete out of the State University of New York Athletic Conference.

Meanwhile, Dryden GM Ice Dogs’ goalie Jacob Anthony is heading to Selkirk College in Castlegar, B.C. to suit up for the Saints, who are members of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League.

Willms, a Camrose, Alta. native, had a strong campaign for Red Lake in his final year of junior ‘A’ play as he led all SIJHL netminders in wins, goals-against average and save percentage at 27, 2.80 and .925, respectively, while his three shutouts tied him for second-most in league play.

A first team all-star in net, he set a league record for total career victories with 52, surpassing the 51 that both current Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Carter Hutton (North Stars/Golden Hawks) and Josh Mrakic (Bearcats/Golden Hawks) had in their time in the league.

Fredonia State is situated on the southern shores of Lake Erie midway between Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland, Ohio.

Anthony, a finalist for SIJHL top goaltender honours and a year-end all-star team honourable mention in goal, had a personal career season-high 18 victories for Dryden in 2019-20 to conclude his time in the league with 31 in total.

The Grande Prairie, Alta. product was a workhorse between the pipes for the Ice Dogs, finishing second in the SIJHL in minutes played at 2,212. He was also in the same position in terms of saves with 1,246, trailing only Willms’ 1,439.