By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
North Wright County junior defenseman Emily Achterkirch verbally agreed Jan. 18 to play college hockey for the Princeton Tigers.
Princeton is a Division-I program based in New Jersey of the ECAC. They are coached by Jeff Kampersal, who also is the coach of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 team, which competed last August at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
Achterkirch, along with teammate Alex LaMere took part last summer in the 2012 Girls Upper Midwest High School Elite League, which was held at Blaine. It was there where she gained Kampersal’s attention.
“I’ve got letters from him before,” said Achterkirch, who currently has eight goals, 11 assists for 19 points this season for the River Hawks. “I verbally committed two weeks ago by email. It’s always been a dream of mine to play Division-I hockey.”
NWC coaches know a thing or two about Division-I hockey. Assistant coaches Rachel Solgon and Michelle Moen both played college hockey at St. Cloud State University and Kevin Finnerty played at the University of Vermont. Head coach Jason Johnson spent three seasons after graduating from St. John’s as an assistant head coach at SCSU.
“I’m really excited for her,” Johnson said. “Without question, she will be playing at a prestigious university and for a top-notch coach. I am thankful I get to coach her for one more season with the Hawks and it will be exciting to follow her career as she goes on to college.”
Achterkirch is the first Division-I recruit since NWC goalie Amanda Koep signed with the University of North Dakota two seasons ago. She currently is a red-shirt freshman at UND. Achterkirch said she had offers to play college hockey locally, but said the decision to join the Ivy League school was an easy one.
“I love everything about the school,” Achterkirch said. “The biggest thing was the academic side of it. They have a great hockey program and you can’t beat their education.
“Right now, my focus is to get the River Hawks to the next level. I want to get back to state.”