ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – North Iowa Bulls forward Carter Wagner has long on the Bethel Royals’ radar. At 6’2″, Wagner has added a tall, physical presence to the North Iowa lineup each of the last two seasons, and would be expected to add that same presence to any college team that picked him up after his junior career ended.
Chris McKelvie is hoping he’ll do just that – Wagner has committed to Bethel, an NCAA Division III institution and member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, to continue his career and education beginning next year. His commitment caps a decorated class of 1999-born North Iowa players, the last Bulls ever to be born in the 20th century.
“I went on a visit last year and I loved the campus and facilities that they have,” said Wagner. “Talking with Coach McKelvie, I knew that he would be a great coach for me, and he can help me be the person and player that I want to be in the future. When I went on the visit, the students and campus were awesome, and I felt that this is the school for me. These are the people I want to be around for the next four years.”
The 2017-18 season was a momentous one for Wagner, leading Centennial High School to a fourth-place finish at the Minnesota state tournament and landing a pick from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL’s Phase II Draft.
After an outstanding prep career with the Cougars and time in the NAPHL ranks with several Minnesota Elite Prep Development League squads, the Lino Lakes, Minnesota native made his first mark on junior hockey with the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Magicians. He immediately made his presence known. In his first three NAHL games out of high school, racking up four goals, including back-to-back game-winners against Coulee Region and Austin.
He would score just one goal the following season, however, landing on the Bulls’ roster in mid-January. Wagner’s second game with the Bulls featured a two-goal night against the Alexandria Blizzard, including another game-winner. After posting 14 points in just 17 regular-season games, he tacked on seven more in the postseason, leading North Iowa to the Fraser Cup semifinals.
The 2019-20 season started with a tender from the Odessa Jackalopes and three games in a ‘Lopes uniform, but Wagner landed back in Mason City at the start of October. All he did was add onto his first-season haul with the Bulls, posting 32 points in his final season of junior hockey, including 18 goals.
“We are very excited to welcome Carter to the Bethel Hockey family,” said McKelvie. “He is going to be a great addition. We have known about Carter for quite some time and he has strong connections to Bethel. Carter possesses a great skill set and we look forward to developing him as both a young man and as a player.”
In all, Wagner departs the junior ranks with more than 100 regular season and postseason games under his belt, and 64 points. He becomes the latest of more than 140 North Iowa Bulls players to advance to the college ranks, including more than 70 who made their college choices while on the Bulls’ roster. He becomes the third North Iowa player to choose Bethel, and the first to do so in five years.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Carter Wagner on his commitment to Bethel University, and wish him all the best as he continues his academic and athletic career.