April 7, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS – Junior forward Erik Haula has elected to forego his senior season at Minnesota after signing an entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild, the National Hockey League (NHL) organization announced on Sunday. Haula is expected to finish out the season with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL).
“I’m excited for this opportunity, and I would like to thank everyone at the University of Minnesota for their support,” Haula said. “It’s never easy to leave a team, especially when you’ve been with the same guys for three years, but this is the right move for me. The University of Minnesota has a great hockey program with great fans, and I’m just thankful to have spent the last three years here.”
In 114 career games, Haula posted 124 total points and 42 goals as the first Gopher since Ryan Potulny (2003-06) to finish his collegiate career with an average of more than a point a game. The forward led Minnesota in scoring each of the last two years as the Gophers earned two-straight MacNaughton cups as Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season champions and two NCAA tournament berths including the team’s run to the Frozen Four in 2011-12.
“Erik has been an impact player for us for three seasons, and I think he has proven that he is ready to play at the next level,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “I want to thank Erik for his contributions to the program, and hopefully, we see him back in Minnesota with the Wild soon.”
The Pori, Finland native improved his offensive performance in each of his three seasons with Minnesota, starting with a 24-point freshman campaign in 2010-11. Haula’s sophomore season saw the forward lead Minnesota in scoring with 49 points and a career-high 20 goals as the Gophers captured the team’s first MacNaughton Cup since 2006-07 and returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the 20th time in program history and the first time since 2005.
In his final season with the team, Haula served as an alternate captain and recorded Minnesota’s first 50-point season since 2005-06, finishing the season with a career-best 51 points and 35 assists. An All-WCHA Second Team selection in 2012-13, Haula recorded 19 power-play points to spark the nation’s best team on the advantage. Minnesota, which added a second-straight MacNaughton Cup in 2012-13, also led the nation in scoring offense during Haula’s final two seasons with the program.
Only the second player ever at Minnesota to hail from outside of North America, Haula ranks tied for 49th all-time in scoring at Minnesota. The forward held a plus-47 rating for his career including a personal-best plus-20 as a junior in 2012-13.
The Minnesota Wild selected Haula in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (182nd overall).
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