Word comes to me today that head coach Dave Shyiak has rescinded the verbal scholarship offer to Gustav Bengtson. This unfortunate news points out once again the foibles and difficulties of recruiting players at younger ages. Surely Dave Shyiak and his staff saw promising things from a 17 year old player to offer him the scholarship and then keep it in their vest for three years.
But now a young man is left without much time to try to find an opportunity to pursue his dream of playing NCAA hockey? For nearly three years no college hockey recruiter would have looked at or spoken with Gustav. He was coming to UAA right? That was "on the books" eh?
I can't help but say this to all college hockey coaches and recruiters. If you're going to offer a schollie to a 17 year old, you damn well better be prepared to live up to your verbal commitment. It is unfair in the extreme to keep a kid off the recruiting table and then turn him loose at the last moment.
Originally committed to join the team in 2009, Gustav was asked to push that back for one more year. I can't help but think that was the proper time to release him. A year and 5 months certainly would have been a more fair window for him to find another school versus the 5 months he now has.
For any recruits out there; I'd tell you that if the school recruiting you hasn't sent you an LOI to sign then perhaps they're not really serious about wanting you. This isn't the first time some school has rescinded it's verbal arrangement and it won't be the last. If you want to know your future for sure; make the school step up and put it in writing. Especially if it going to be more than a year before you attend school.
Bengtson was tendered the verbal offer in 2007 while playing major midget hockey in Utah with the Northwest Regulators as a 17 year old. His coach there said this at the time:
“What sticks out for the scouts when they watch him are his tremendous skills”, stated Gronborg. “Gustav can be a dynamic player with his skating and stick handling at a very high speed."
"Mixed with being a very ‘coach-able’ athlete you can consider him a ‘dream player’ for our staff. His commitment also shows in his approach to school where he is an honor student”
“Gustav was a pretty accomplished player when he came over to the US. However I would like to commend his work ethic on and off the ice especially in areas such as his defensive play, his play in traffic, and keeping a consistent high level of play, which he needs to continue to improve in order to make the next step. There is always a transition period for an European player to come over to play North American hockey and I think that Gustav has handled it great”
Gustav began his junior career in the USHL but a lack of playing time even though he showed great potential, the deep lineup and lack of playing forced a move to Texas in the NAHL where he gelled nicely and contributed 9 goals and 13 assists in 37 games. Texas suspended operations the next season and Gustav found himself first in Topeka and then with the Kenai River Brown Bears.
I often commented here that his junior career was stunted by provincially minded junior coaches. If you were coaching in Cedar Rapids wouldn't you give ice time to the kid whose Mom and Dad were in the stands? Damn right you would. When given the proper opportunity (as he was in Texas) he showed great promise and development. His coach there said;
“He’s really added an offensive spark that we were lacking early on in the season,”
Perhaps frustrated by his North American junior experiences Gustav returned home to Sweden this past season to bulk up and polish his game before heading to UAA this coming fall (a year later than originally agreed to). He currently leads his team in scoring. With the Seawolves now out of the mix, there is a quality Swedish player looking for an opportunity to play college hockey. In my estimation, someone will be lucky to latch onto Gustav. He is an excellent student having graduated from high school in Texas with a 3.75 GPA.
At this moment, I'm not proud of the program I support. For a program that already faces difficulties in recruiting and building success due to it's geography, this is a black mark it didn't need.