The NCAA told Nic Kerdiles he wasn’t allowed to play for the University of Wisconsin until Nov. 30. They never said anything about playing for someone else.
United States of Hockey has learned that the suspended Wisconsin freshman will join the National Team Development Program’s U.S. National Under-18 Team for a pair of weekend games including a Friday night tilt against the University of Minnesota and a Saturday night game against Division III St. Thomas. Kerdiles is a former NTDP player.
According to a USA Hockey source, the NCAA was notified and cleared Kerdiles to play in the exhibition games. To my knowledge, this is an unprecedented situation.
The NCAA recently reduced a yearlong suspension to 10 games including time served for Kerdiles, who the NCAA says committed an amateurism violation. In a statement Monday, Kerdiles announced he would stay at Wisconsin despite the sanctions.
This is a great opportunity for Kerdiles, who can use all the reps he can get as a candidate for the U.S. roster for the World Junior Championship. This also gives him some live game action against NCAA competition when it wasn’t expected, so he’ll be better prepared when he steps on the ice with his Badger teammates Nov. 30.
Kerdiles will miss Wisconsin’s first series against Minnesota due to the NCAA sanctions. Now he’ll get a crack at the Badgers’ big rival before his teammates will this year. How’s that for an odd twist?
Even though the U.S. National Under-18 Team is typically made up of players that are 17 years old (Kerdiles is 18), that age designation is only prohibitive during international competitions. USA Hockey often invites older players to join the squad for its games against colleges when there are holes to fill on their roster due to injury. There are actually quite a few holes right now.
Former NTDPer Frankie Vatrano, who parted ways with Boston College earlier in the year, spent the previous two weeks filling a similar role in a few college games with the U18s.
The wide perception is that the NCAA’s sanctions on Kerdiles were too strict for the alleged violation. The fact that he’ll get some unexpected playing time against an NCAA opponent is a little bit on the humorous side, especially for those who so often feel the NCAA overreaches from time to time.