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Freshman Michael Emerson leaves UND hockey team

Jan. 11—GRAND FORKS — Freshman forward Michael Emerson is leaving UND.

Emerson informed UND head coach Brad Berry that he has decided to leave the program in search of more playing time.

Emerson will most likely return to the United States Hockey League, where the Chicago Steel own his retention rights. Emerson is then expected to transfer to a new school, where he will be eligible in the fall.

The sixth-round Carolina Hurricanes draft pick has had limited ice time during his first semester at UND.

Emerson played in six of 20 regular-season games this season, totaling 20 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time. He did not record a point or shot on goal.

Emerson's highest time on ice was 6:46 during a 2-2 tie with Minnesota State-Mankato in October. He played 4:51 in a 7-2 win over Army in the season opener, but did not crack the two-minute time-on-ice mark in the other four games.

On Saturday, Emerson was in the lineup and played three shifts against Alaska, a total of 1:51.

His departure leaves fourth-ranked UND with 14 forwards for the rest of the season.

It's unlikely the Fighting Hawks (14-5-1) will try to add another forward to replace him.

Emerson, of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., committed to UND last season during a breakout year in the USHL.

After tallying seven points for the Steel in 2021-22, Emerson racked up 30 goals and 64 points in 60 games, finishing 12th in the league in scoring.

Emerson played in the All-American Game in Plymouth, Mich., last season.

The Hurricanes selected the 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger with the No. 190 overall pick in June. Emerson attended Carolina's development camp after the draft.

Emerson is the first UND player to leave the team midseason since Adam Tambellini in 2013-14.

Tambellini went to the Western Hockey League in January of that year. UND ended up reaching the NCAA Frozen Four that April with a team captained by Dillon Simpson, now a first-year assistant coach. Tambellini was playing regularly when he left, though.

If Emerson does, indeed, return to the Steel, they'll need to make a roster adjustment. They currently have four 2003-born players on the roster, the maximum allowed by the USHL. Chicago would need to move one to make room for Emerson.

Chicago currently sits in last place in the eight-team Eastern Conference with a 10-17-1-2 mark.