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February 9, 2010Fairbanks forward Jared Larson had plenty of other options when he made his college decision Sunday, including Colorado College and UMass-Lowell, but when he left Apple Valley, Minn., two years ago he was determined to return his home state a Golden Gopher
"I'm a Minnesota kid and I grew up watching the Gophers play," said Larson, who committed to Minnesota coach Don Lucia this weekend. "My family has season tickets and I loved the campus when I went there. I enjoyed everything about the coaching staff, and that was a big factor."
More than 25 schools showed interest in Larson, including Minnesota-Mankato, Minnesota-Duluth and Bemidji State among others, but Larson could not be deterred in his vision to skate for the Gophers.
"He's been one of the most sought-after kids we've ever had, but despite all that attention, for Minnesota kids, it's their dream to wear the maroon and gold and when he came to Fairbanks he said he'd do anything to make that dream a reality, and that's what he did," Ice Dogs head coach Josh Hauge said.
The 6-3, 180-pound forward will sign a letter of intent this April and enroll at Minnesota next fall, joining a class that is 11 deep.
"To be able to tell my friends and family where I'm headed, finally, is exciting," he said. "Now I'm just looking forward, to the playoffs and then to getting up [to Minneapolis] in the summer to begin training with the Gopher alums and current players."
In 46 games with Fairbanks (North American Hockey League) this season, Larson has 20 goals and 21 assists and is +4. He scored 22 goals with 14 helpers and was +17 in 2008-09.
"The first thing that stands out to you is that for a big kid he skates exceptionally well," Hauge said. "He skates like a pro, with great feet and is smooth on the ice. He still has to put some more mass on his body and he can still develop as a scorer. He is good, not great yet, but he has the instincts to be a great goal scorer."
Larson will be 21 when he enrolls in September, giving him a maturity he hopes will key early success.
"I see myself making an impact there, being an older guy that can maybe step in a little more quickly than some of the guys that are coming straight from high school," he said. "I think I can add a little bit of everything - I can skate, I can score, I can play physical hockey."
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