MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A North Dakota native has accepted a scholarship from the University of Minnesota and will be the first non-Minnesotan since 1987 to play for the Golden Gophers.
Grant Potulny, a Grand Forks, N.D., native who plays for the Lincoln Stars of the U.S. Hockey League, on Wednesday made a verbal commitment to play for the Gophers next season.
The signing marks a departure from a controversial practice under former coach Doug Woog, who for nearly 15 years recruited only Minnesotans. Woog did so to maximize opportunities for Minnesotans, but he was pressured to look elsewhere to find talent for the Gophers, who last won an NCAA title in 1979.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia can't comment on Potulny's commitment until he signs a national letter of intent. When he took over for Woog last April, he said he would begin recruiting outside Minnesota.
Potulny understands his arrival at Minnesota will be controversial, but he said he hopes to win the fans' respect with his tenacious play.
''Someone told me when I found the school that was right, I would know right away,'' said Potulny, who turns 20 Saturday. ''That's how I felt when I was at Minnesota. I knew it was the right place.''
The last non-Minnesotans to play for the Gophers were forward Steve MacSwain of Alaska (1984-87) and goaltender John Blue of California (1985-87).
Woog had instituted the all-Minnesota roster policy in 1985. But he said the growth of college hockey -- and increased competition for top recruits -- made change necessary.
''I wish we could have kept (the policy), but I understand why they need to change it,'' said Woog, who now works for the Gophers athletic department. ''People expect you to win.''
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