A week after the Bemidji State Beavers made their first trip to the Frozen Four, sophomore goalie Matt Dalton signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Bruins, giving up his final two years of collegiate eligibility.
"It's a good situation for Matt," Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. "Every kid's dream is getting an opportunity to play in the National Hockey League and Boston provided a situation that Matt thought was too good to pass up."
Reaching the Frozen Four was unchartered waters for Bemidji State, as is seeing a player sign a pro contract early.
Serratore typically recruits older, undrafted players, who play four years in college and hope to move on to the American Hockey League or East Coast Hockey League when finished.
But Dalton had more attention than most Bemidji State recruits. Inside College Hockey ranked the 6-foot-1, 189-pound native of Clinton, Ont., as the top freshman goalie recruit of 2008. Serratore had heard that pro teams liked him, but the coach believes that BSU's run was the determining factor in Dalton's signing.
"There were people watching him, but the end result is what he did on the big stage," Serratore said. "He outdid (Notre Dame's Jordan) Pearce and he outdid (Cornell's Ben) Scrivens in the regional, and he played very well against Miami at the Frozen Four. He also played very well in the CHA championship against Robert Morris.
"Matt gave up seven goals in the last four games. So, I guess this is part of the territory sometimes. Sure, we'd like to have him for another year, but he felt he couldn't pass this up. This is good for Bemidji State. We've produced two goaltenders who have signed NHL contracts. Hopefully that helps from a recruiting standpoint."
Dalton took over the starting job when Matt Climie graduated. Climie signed a free-agent deal with the Dallas Stars and made his NHL debut earlier this month.
Dalton's departure leaves Bemidji State with no goalies who have college experience. Dan Bakala was a freshman on last year's team but never suited up.
Bemidji State also has recruited Mathieu Dugas from the North American Hockey League, according to Chris Heisenberg's recruiting database. Serratore, who isn't allowed to comment on possible recruits per NCAA rules, says the Beavers will be forced to recruit another goaltender this summer.
"It's not easy," he said.
The Beavers announced three signings for the 2009-10 season Monday. They are forward Brance Orban, defenseman Brady Wacker and defenseman Jake Areshenko, whose grandfather is former UND and Bemidji State basketball coach Dave Gunther. Areshenko plays for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League.