North American Juniors
Lightning defensive prospect and 2008 6th round pick Luke Witkowski is reportedly out with an injury and will miss the inaugral season opener of Fargo Force Friday night when they travel to play the Omaha Lancers. The Force is coached by long time UND head coach Dean Blais. The Force begin the USHL season with an eight game road trip, with their home opener on October 30 against the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Witkowski is credited with with first fighting major in Force team history when he dropped the gloves with Blake Thompson of Sioux Falls in Fargo's first exhibition game.
For Mitch Fadden, September will be the month that decides where he spends the next year. As the Lethbridge training camp begins, Tampa's 2007 4th round pick is still without a pro contract from the Lightning. After attending the Bolt's Prospect Camp in Victoria, BC last month, the Lightning still want to see more of Fadden before making a decision on where he spends the 2008-09 season.
In talking with the Lethbridge Herald, the WHL's sixth leading scorer was upbeat about the start of the Hurricane's camp, â€œItâ€™s business as usual, everyone is excited to get back on the ice and weâ€™re ready to start the season.â€
The Fargo Force have announced they have selected Tampa's 2008 6th round pick Luke Witkowski to join the roster of the USHL's newest team for the 2008-09 season. The 6'2", 200 lbs. defenseman has signed a letter of intent with Western Michigan University of the CCHA having deferred enrollment until the 2009-10 season. Witkowski became a free agent in May after the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL ceased operations for the 2008-09 season after just two years.
Witkowski, a big blueliner known for his skating agility and speed, will be coached in Fargo by former University of North Dakota head coach Dean Blais who led the Fighting Sioux to two NCAA national championships over the course of a decade at the helm. Blais, known for his up-tempo offensive style, seems to be a good fit for Witkowski's offensive potential. Blais also coached Bolt prospect Matt Smaby and recent Lightning signee Brandon Bochenski during his tenure at UND.