Omaha Lancers’ forward Seth Ambroz happens to be part of a growing trend, a trend that is seeing more players leaving their respective Minnesota high school team and play hockey in the American junior ranks.
Many scouts and draft analysts believe they saw slow progression from year to year from the New Prague, MN. native, but Ambroz believes he made the right decision in leaving for Omaha.
In his third year with Lancers, Ambroz saw his production stagnate, scoring just two more goals and had five fewer assists compared to his sophomore season. One could argue this is attributed to playing on a less offensively gifted team that averaged just over one less goal a game than last year’s team that won the USHL’s West Division last season.
Ambroz is set to play for the University of Minnesota—a team that is full of forward talent with the likes of Florida Panthers’ 2010 first round pick Nick Bjugstad, Nashville Predators’ 2010 second round pick Zach Budish, and former Omaha teammate Erik Haula, who had a very impressive freshman year for the Gophers. All eyes will be on the six-foot-two forward next season to see if he can break away from a trend that many see as slows in his development.
Future Considerations talked to Ambroz, 49th in Future Considerations’ final ranking for the 2011 draft, about his season in Omaha, Minnesota hockey, and his personal draft process.
How do you think your season went this year for you personally?
It went pretty well. We had a pretty different team this year in that the first two years I was in Omaha we had a real offensive team and this year, my third year, we really had to rely more on defense to win hockey games, but we had the offensive ability to score goals. I took on more a leadership role which is great for my development as well.
There seems to be a growing trend of players leaving Minnesota high school hockey to play in the USHL whether it be in the USA Development Program or for the USHL team that drafted them. How do you think the decision worked for you after playing three years and now having time to reflect on it?
Yeah for sure, leaving high school was the best option for me development wise. I think nowadays players are starting to leave high school more and going the junior route for their development and obviously thinking the USHL will be a tougher league [than high school]. High school has been great for years, but it seems like a lot of players have been taking the junior route.
A lot of Minnesotans, especially ones that live close to the University of Minnesota, have dreams of playing for the Gophers. Was this one of your dreams growing up?
I grew up watching the Gophers and always wanted to play like them. It’ll be an honour to play for them. My dream actually is to play in the NHL and this is the team that I was most interested in and I like what they have to offer. Being a hometown guy it’s a great feeling for sure.
It seems as if you had a pretty impressive physical side of the combine. How did the interview process go? How many teams did you meet with?
I met with about 17 teams on top of all the teams I met with beforehand. I thought the interviews went pretty well and I can’t complain in how I thought I did. I was very happy with how they all went and hopefully things turn out well at the end of June because of them.
You did not get an invite to the US Junior Evaluation Camp this August. Your thoughts on this and how much motivation does this serve come the fall when the season starts to try get on the team?
Yeah, when the invites were going out I had no idea, but obviously you want to [get invited to the camp] and it starts with having a great summer here at Minnesota and getting off to a great start when the season comes around.
With the draft being an hour away from your hometown of New Prague, is there a little bit more of excitement or maybe a little bit of nervousness?
I’m not really nervous; I’ve done all I can do to show what I got and now I’ve just got to sit and wait and hope my name gets called. All around [the draft process] was a great experience for me and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Andrew Weiss is a Future Considerations columnist and can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WeissFC. Follow the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed at www.twitter.com/FCHockey, on YouTube at www.youtube.com/futureconsiderations and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FCHockey