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Bemidji State signs three defensemen

BEMIDJI – Defensemen D.J. Jones of Plymouth, Ruslan Pedan of Moscow and Carter Struthers of Weyburn, Sask. have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Bemidji State hockey program for the 2013-14 season.

All signees are contingent upon admission to BSU and compliance with NCAA rules, including certification by the NCAA eligibility center.

Of the Beavers 2013 spring signees, two of them are their teams’ top-scoring defensemen and the third was second among blueliners.

“We have some holes to fill on our defensive core due to graduation,” said Bemidji State assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ted Belisle. “We think that these three players will help give us some needed attributes to help complement our defensive core.”

Jones (5-8, 170 pounds) is in his first season with the Victoria Grizzlies and his second season playing in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). This season he had four goals and 29 assists in 49 games and was the team’s top-scoring defenseman.

He also scored one goal and contributed six assists in his team’s 10 postseason games.

Jones played his prep hockey at Wayzata High School where was among the Trojans’ top five scorers each season.

“D.J. is the pace-changer we felt like we needed to add to our D-core,” Belisle said. “He is a highly-competitive player with good feet and will bring quickness to our lineup. He is a smaller, more compact defenseman with great strength and plays all situations really well.”

Pedan (6-1, 175 pounds) is a second-year defenseman in the North American Hockey league (NAHL) and just completed his first with the Janesville Jets. Pedan finished the season second on the Jets’ scoring list and eighth in the league among defensemen with 11 goals and 22 assists, playing in 44 of the team’s 60 games in 2012-13.

Pedan will be the first player in 57 years of Beaver Hockey to hail from Russia.

“Ruslan is an exciting young prospect because he has a very good skill set,” said Belisle. “Ruslan can shoot the puck, is a very good skater and is good on the power play. He’s got an edge to his game that we like and we think there is really no limit to his potential.”

Struthers (6-5, 197 pounds) is in his second season with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The defender finished 2012-13 with six goals and 17 assists to sit fifth on the team and second among Weyburn’s defensemen in scoring despite playing in just 37 of 54 games due to injury.

“Carter will add a lot of length and size to our blueline,” Belisle said. “His skill set has allowed him to play in offensive and defensive situations during his junior hockey career. It is exciting to have a player with the mix of size and tools Cater has. He is going to be a good defender.”

BSU’s regular period signees join Michael Bitzer of Moorhead, Brendan Harms of Steinbach, Man., Bob Kinne of St. Paul, Phillip Marinaccio of Vaughan, Ont. and Charlie O’Connor of Elk Village, Ill. who each signed letters of intent in November.