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NHL draft pick transfers from North Dakota to Colorado College

May 10, 2017 Updated: May 10, 2017 at 4:36 pm
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Colorado College goalie Alex Leclerc makes a save as North Dakota left wing Chris Wilkie looks for a rebound during the second period Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. Leclerc shut out the Fighting Hawks with 45 saves. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

There will be a Wilkie brothers reunion at Colorado College in about a year.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference program announced that North Dakota sophomore and NHL draft pick Chris Wilkie is transferring to CC so he may play with his younger brother Coltan in 2018 or 2019.

"I am looking forward to this fresh start," Chris Wilkie said. "Obviously the chance to play with my brother was a big part of it and I think CC will be a good fit for me."

Chris Wilkie, 20, must sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules but will have two years eligibility remaining starting with the 2018-19 season. Coltan, 17, is a CC defenseman commit from November and could join the Tigers then or the following year.

Because of the difference in their ages, it would be the first time the brothers would play on the same team.

“He's a real get for our program," CC coach Mike Haviland said. "He's a great young man who is looking forward to the opportunity he will have here."

Chris Wilkie was drafted by the Florida Panthers with the 162nd pick (sixth round) in 2015 after enjoying a breakout final year in the junior U.S. Hockey League.

Under NCAA rules, CC coaches could not comment on Coltan until he signs his National Letter of Intent. The paperwork for Chris Wilkie's transfer cleared earlier this week.

"I really enjoyed my two years at North Dakota and have the utmost respect for the coaching staff, who were very helpful in helping me go where I wanted," Wilkie said. "It will be weird playing against North Dakota in a year. I really wanted to stay in the NCHC because in my opinion it is the best college hockey conference and I wanted to compete against that level of competition."

Haviland said UND coach Brad Berry alerted him to Wilkie's plan to leave the program and in his interest in CC, which went 8-24-4 last season.

Bringing in transfers is unusual at CC. The last one was former standout Eric Walsky from then-league foe Alaska-Anchorage in 2006. The 32-year-old winger is under contract next season to play for Lausanne in Switzerland, where the Anchorage native is now a dual citizen.

Wilkie shared the goal-scoring lead that season with current Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser and Boston University standout Robert Carpenter with 35 goals. He added 20 assists for 55 points in 59 games with the Tri-City Storm.

Wilkie recorded nine points as a freshman during North Dakota's NCAA championship season and added 10 points (19 points overall, 62 college games) last season.

"My first two years (in college) have not been what I wanted statistically," said Wilkie, who added he has been working on developing defensively.

The former U.S. National Team Development Program member won bronze with Team USA at the 2012-13 U17 world championships. The Omaha, Neb., native left that program to play two seasons with Tri-City in Kearney, Neb.

The former UND forward has enjoyed success against CC in the past, recording his first two-goal college performance in a 5-2 win over the Tigers on Oct. 30, 2015 during his freshman season.

His brother's opinion of the Tigers coaching staff, facilities and the program helped convince Chris to attend CC as well. He will spend the next year practicing and attending classes.

"I hope to be a guy who can step in and make an impact every night," Wilkie said. "Coach Haviland wants to play a fast, disciplined style and that is appealing."

The two-time all-league academic honoree is the son of David Wilkie, who played parts of six NHL seasons with Montreal, Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers.

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