Jumping to wrong conclusion

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in being confused about the news I received last week.

Upon learning Luverne High School junior Chaz Smedsrud had been selected in the 26th round of the United States Hockey League draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede, I quickly reached a conclusion.

“There goes Luverne’s best chance of qualifying for the state hockey tournament for the second time in three years,” I said to myself.

Smedsrud, after all, has earned his place among the state of Minnesota’s most prolific point producers the last two seasons.

And the thought of watching the Cardinals race on to the ice at the Blue Mound Ice Arena next season without No. 8 (Smedsrud’s jersey number) being among the charges would have been a disappointing prospect, to say the least.

The thing about jumping to early conclusions is they could be wrong.

After sharing a conversation with Chaz’s father, Steve Smedsrud, it appears my initial reaction about the situation was way off base.

“Don’t worry about that,” Steve told me. “You are not alone. We’ve got a lot of calls from people who are wondering if Chaz was done playing hockey here. It’s not necessarily true.”

That’s good news for the Luverne hockey faithful, who can feel free to breathe a sigh of relief.

Being drafted by the Stampede doesn’t mean Chaz’s high school career is over.

It means he’ll have some options when it comes to his hockey future.

“Chaz’s goal right now is to play Division 1 (college) hockey some day, and that usually requires playing junior hockey at some point. Junior hockey can be a stepping stone to Division 1 schools, and that’s the way we’re looking at this,” Steve said.

By being drafted, Chaz will be invited to attend the Stampede’s tryout camp June 12-15 in Sioux Falls.

The LHS athlete hopes to make a good impression at the camp, which could keep him in the Stampede’s future plans.

“He’ll be evaluated at the camp and they’ll make a decision from there,” Steve said.

“He could be placed on an affiliate list and asked to come and play for them at the end of the next high school season. They also could say thanks for coming and that would be the end of it.”

Regardless of what the Stampede decide, I believe Smedsrud has a bright future in hockey.

The chances are slim that he would be asked to forego his senior season at LHS and join the team next winter.

And, if the Sioux Falls team decides to pass on his talents, I’m sure there are other junior teams out there that would be more than willing to give Smedsrud an opportunity to play with them in the future.

If that proves to be the case, the high-scoring forward can focus his attention on a shorter-term goal.

“Right now he plans on playing here next year and make a run at getting back to the state tournament,” Steve stated.

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