RIVER FALLS, Wis. – Earlier this season, Josh Arnold and Dayton Honkanen both announced their commitments to the NCAA Division III hockey program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Turns out the Falcons are building quite a forward line for the 2018-19 season. That line has a new entry this week, with the commitment of Connor Clemons to UW-River Falls for next season. Clemons is the ninth North Iowa Bulls player this season to announce a commitment for next year, with six of those commitments going to college hockey programs. The remaining three commitments have come in the form of tenders with North American Hockey League clubs.
Clemons has been one of the more recognizable figures on the North Iowa roster over the last two seasons, racking up 130 points for the Bulls over 80 regular-season and postseason contests heading into the final weekend of the 2017-18 campaign. His 65 points last season was second-best among the Bulls, and was enough to earn Second-Team All-Rookie honors from the NA3HL.
That follows an impressive high school career at Prior Lake, which also included more than 100 points. His success hasn’t just been limited to the Bulls, either – the Savage, Minnesota native began this season with the Minnesota Magicians, recording an assist in five career North American Hockey League games.
Clemons’s college career will begin under Steve Freeman, who has built one of the most decorated resumes in Division III hockey over his 22 seasons with the Falcons. Freeman has won 376 games, including eight 20-win seasons and a trip to the Division III Frozen Four in 2001. This season, though, UW-River Falls finished with just eight wins.
Both Clemons’s new coach and one of his assistant coaches have ties to the state of Iowa. Freeman spent two seasons as the head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints in the late 1980s – North Iowa head coach Todd Sanden also spent a short stint in Dubuque in the late ’90s. Assistant coach A.J. Bucchino also saw ice time in Iowa, as a goaltender for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the early 2000s.
The Bulls have a lengthy heritage of moving players on to the college ranks, with more than 60 college commitments over the team’s seven-year history. Six former Bulls have found their way to NCAA Division I rosters, including three who are currently active in Division I play.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Connor Clemons on his college commitment, and wish him the best in his upcoming endeavors at Wisconsin-River Falls.