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Duncan to play in Austria

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota's hockey captain is headed overseas.

Ryan Duncan, who finished his brilliant college hockey career in March, has signed to play with the Salzburg Red Bulls in Austria for next season, his agent said today. Duncan will head to Austria in the summer to prepare for the season.

"We were looking at some things here (in North America)," player agent Neil Sheehy said, "and he had a good experience going to the AHL at the end of the year, but he felt the best thing for his career was to go to Europe. If he plays well, he will generate a lot of opportunities."

Duncan won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award his sophomore season and received a lot of pro interest. But instead of signing a deal, he decided to come back to UND for his final two seasons, where he etched his name deeper into the record book.

The Calgary native captained UND to the MacNaughton Cup as Western Collegiate Hockey Association champions as a senior and tied the NCAA record for most consecutive games played. He also finished in the top 15 all-time at UND in points.

Sheehy said he thinks Duncan's choice to return to school instead of signing after his sophomore year was the right one.

"It is all about making someone a player -- not fooling someone to get a contract," Sheehy said. "Ryan Duncan is a much better hockey player today than he was two years ago. It's not just about getting someone a contract. You can get a contract and quickly wind up in the East Coast Hockey League, where the money isn't big, and you won't have your degree.

"Ryan is going to graduate on May 16th. To me, there is a tremendous value in college education. And on top of that, Ryan is a better hockey player now, too."

The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.