North Iowa defenseman Stewart makes NCAA commitment
January 23, 2020
The North Iowa Bulls, proud members of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), are excited to announce that defenseman Harrison Stewart has made his college choice, and has committed to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Stewart will begin attending, and playing for, the NCAA Division III institution and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) member next season.
He becomes the seventh North Iowa player this year to commit to a college program, and the second to choose the defending NCAA Division III national champions.
"We're excited about Harrison," said Krueger. "He's the complete package - he's got the size, the skating ability, the composure and the skill set to make smart plays with the puck. He fits into the kind of character that we want to bring here to the Pointers."
The sport of hockey runs deep in Stewart's veins, with two older brothers who have also achieved much in the sport. Hayden Stewart is currently a goaltender for the Macon Mayhem in the Southern Professional Hockey League, while Ethan Stewart was recruited by Krueger before choosing to go the NCAA Division I route at Ferris State.
The younger Stewart picked up 33 points last year in his rookie season of junior hockey, playing in 44 games for North Iowa before adding two more goals during the team's Fraser Cup semifinal run. This year, he's already cleared that bar, with eight goals and 26 assists in just 29 regular-season games. He started this season with the Amarillo Bulls of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), posting an assist in two games before returning to Mason City for another season.
"We're not surprised that he's committed early in the process," said North Iowa head coach Todd Sanden. "Looking at a team like Stevens Point, that is traditionally a national contender, gives Harry a chance to go to the school of his choice, and to play for a hockey program that gives him a similar setting to North Iowa. You're going to be in the hunt for conference and possibly national championships there."
Krueger notes that the league's "Ladder of Development" with the North American Hockey League has helped to open his eyes to the potential in the NA3HL. Last season alone, more than 230 NAHL alumni landed spots on NCAA Division I squads, a single-season record for the Tier II junior circuit.
"The NA3HL is a league that we haven’t recruited heavily in the past, and the parity in hockey is getting better," said Krueger. "The NAHL is doing better at pushing kids to Division I and we’ve had to open up some new avenues (of recruiting). We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the NA3HL."
For Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the expectations from year to year are clear. The Pointers have appeared in four of the last six Division III championship games, and also reached the semifinals in 2018. Last year’s team went unbeaten on the way to its sixth national championship, winning 29 games and tying two more. This year's team sits at 9-6-1, but has won four straight, including three against top-5 teams.
More than 140 players have landed spots on college hockey teams after playing for North Iowa, including more than 70 who made their college commitments while in uniform for the Bulls. Eight North Iowa alumni have reached the NCAA Division I level.