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Jackson Blake, son of former UND star and longtime NHLer, commits to Fighting Hawks

Late afternoon sun shines on Ralph Engelstad Arena near the University of North Dakota campus on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS - Perhaps, in a few years, we’ll see Panzer and Blake skating on the same line at the University of North Dakota once again.

Jackson Blake, the son of two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist and 13-year NHL veteran Jason Blake, committed to the Fighting Hawks on Monday afternoon.

Blake is a 5-foot-7, 135-pound right winger who played for Eden Prairie’s Bantam AA team last season.

“My dad went there and it’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to go to North Dakota,” said Blake, a 2003-born freshman. “My dad is my idol. I always look up to him. I thought it would be fun to continue the legacy at North Dakota.”

Blake will bring some of the same elements that his father did to UND, where the former Moorhead Spuds standout helped the program to the 1997 NCAA national title and was a Hobey finalist in 1997 and 1999.

“Jackson is an extremely special hockey player,” said Niko Kapetanovic, Blake’s bantam coach the past two seasons. “He’s just super dynamic. Not many people have his brain and hockey IQ. I don’t know if there’s a player his age who has that. He would have been a lock for the NTDP if he was a little bigger.

“His brain is out of control, his hands are just ridiculous and his size doesn’t even matter. His second-chance effort on pucks and his competing for pucks in the corner. . . he’s just relentless. He has a lot of his dad’s compete in him. Jackson doesn’t like to lose in anything. He even hates missing the net in practice.”

Blake’s commitment comes just a couple of weeks after one by Jaksen Panzer, whose father, Jeff, was a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist and once played on a line with Jason Blake.

UND landed a commitment from Blake just nine days before new recruiting legislation goes into effect that bans contact between coaches and prospects until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year and bans scholarship offers until Aug. 1 before a prospect’s junior year.

That means UND won’t be able to communicate with Blake from May 1 to Jan. 1.

Despite the fact that Blake has only played at the bantam level, he had several colleges interested in him already.

“There were a lot of schools that were on him,” Kapetanovic said. “He didn’t want to go anywhere besides North Dakota.”

As a first-year bantam, Blake tallied more than 100 points. He started this season with Shattuck-St. Mary’s U15 team, but opted to return to Eden Prairie midway through the school year. He had 15 points in his first five games back with Eden Prairie.

“Jackson is a phenomenal kid, a phenomenal teammate,” Kapetanovic said. “Everyone likes him. I’m super happy for him. I knew it was going to happen, because the kid is unreal.”

Blake said some of his favorite UND players to watch include Drake Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser and Shane Gersich.

Blake is eligible for the United States Hockey League draft this spring. Kapetanovic thinks he will go in the top three rounds.

“He’s one of the most fun players to watch on the ice because some of the things he can do are just ridiculous,” Kapetanovic said.

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