Fort Frances Jr. Sabres' forward Mitch Cain, a senior at Fort Frances High School, has made a verbal commitment to suit up for the Bemidji State University hockey team -- but whether it's for this coming season or the next one remains the question.
"They haven't decided whether I'm ready for [this fall] or if it's best to wait a year and play junior again and go the following year," said Cain, who was last year's co-SIJHL defensive forward of the year.
"It's up to them, but I'm likely going to try out in Fargo of the USHL because I think that would be the best place for me [next season], and then see how it goes from there," he added.
Cain, who tallied 69 points in 56 games with the Sabres last season, including the playoffs, was scouted by BSU's head coach Tom Serratore during the winter and recently was offered a scholarship.
"We've been in touch over the past year, they came to watch me a bunch of times [last] season," he explained.
"We built a bit of a relationship and it came down to whether or not I wanted to become a Bemidji Beaver, and I definitely do."
The 12th-ranked Beavers made an improbable run to the 2009 "Frozen Four" before losing 4-1 to No. 4 Miami (Ohio) University in the semi-finals.
The "Frozen Four" appearance was the first-ever for the school, and the team made history by being the lowest seed ever to reach the Division I semi-finals.
Cain joins a growing list of area hockey players heading south of the border to further their careers while getting an education at the same time.
Fellow Fort Frances native Dan MacIntyre suited up for the Beavers the last two seasons, and will be a familiar face for Cain at BSU.
Joe Basaraba, who was taken 22nd overall in the Ontario Hockey League draft a year ago by the Erie Otters, opted instead to enroll at Shattuck-St.Mary's prep school last fall and has committed to the University of Minnesota Duluth for his freshman year in 2010.
Meanwhile, both A.J. Tucker (St. Scholastica) and Cody Mosbeck (Gustavus Adolphus) had strong seasons with their respective teams in NCAA Division III play last season--with Mosbeck's Golden Gusties going all the way to the national final.
"I really like the hockey [down there] and I think it'll be a great experience," Cain enthused of BSU.
"I went earlier this year to take a tour of the campus and watched one of their practices, which was pretty cool, and I think I'll like it a lot."