Gardner enjoys playing at ‘The Ralph’GRAND FORKS — Rhett Gardner made the trip from Saskatchewan to Grand Forks in November to play hockey at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
By: Brad Schlossman, Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS — Rhett Gardner made the trip from Saskatchewan to Grand Forks in November to play hockey at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“It’s really fun to play at The Ralph,” Gardner said.
The 6-foot-2 forward from Moose Jaw, Sask., will make that a routine in a few years. Gardner, a 1996-born forward who currently plays for the Moose Jaw Generals AAA team, committed to the University of North Dakota last week.
Gardner also had the option of playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League, but he has notified Brandon that he will be going to college. Gardner also received interest from Cornell, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth.
“It has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” said Gardner, who played at a UND summer hockey camp when he was 8 or 9 years old. “They have a great program there. You couldn’t say no to their offer.”
Gardner has 21 goals and 40 points in 25 games for the Generals in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League. He is the team captain.
“He’s a big kid,” Moose Jaw coach Ray Wareham said. “He skates extremely well. He has some pretty good offensive upside. He does all the little things well in his own end. He’s a complete player. He’s leading us both on and off the ice.”
Gardner recently represented Canada West at the World Under-17 Challenge. He scored two goals in five games. Gardner called the experience “unreal.”
“The whole experience was just crazy,” he said. “The high level of hockey was so fun to be a part of.”
The Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League hold the rights to Gardner. He said it’s his goal to make the Gamblers next season.
“I hope to be there,” he said.
And in a few years, the high school junior will be skating in The Ralph again.
“He had a pretty good year for us last year,” Wareham said. “He was generating a lot of interest. We had a ton of phone calls about him. It’s our understanding that he had a pretty good Under-17 tournament in Quebec and he showcased himself pretty well.”