Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Alec Baer has been one of the hot topics in Minnesota high school hockey circles recently. After missing a practice to visit the Vancouver Giants who own his Western Hockey League rights, the freshman was released from the Red Knights roster in early February.
The school released a blanket statement at the time, leaving out specifics.
"Alec Baer has decided to seek out other hockey opportunities and is no longer a part of the Benilde-St. Margaret's hockey program."
In an interview with theprovince.com this week, Baer noted that Benilde head coach Ken Pauly was pushing the NCAA route.
"My coach really pushed that is how it should be done," Baer said of the NCAA way, "but I fell in love with the WHL after being in Vancouver. College didn't seem the same after that."
After playing varsity as an eighth grader last season for St. Louis Park high school, Baer made the transition to Benilde for his freshman year. Baer recorded five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 20 games for the Red Knights before being released from their roster.
One of the most talented young players in the state of Minnesota, the five-foot-nine, 150 pound Bear was ranked by this site as the top freshman in the state.
Baer went un-drafted in the WHL Bantam Draft, which isn't uncommon with Minnesota's long-time ties to college hockey. The fifteen year old forward was added to the Giants protected list shortly after the draft, and participated in the teams rookie camp over the summer, where he was reportedly the best player on the ice.
According to reports from theprovince.com, Vancouver invited Baer to visit the team the same weekend they were honoring former Colorado Avalanche star and NHL Hall of Fame player Joe Sakic. According to the article, Baer spent some time with Sakic during the trip.
The Giants released a statement late last week after making the signing official.
"We are extremely excited to have Alec join our team and we are hoping to have him in the line up before the end of the season," said Giants' Executive Vice President & General Manager, Scott Bonner. "He will be a great addition to the Giants. Having Alec sign with us is a big step in the right direction for the team."
Baer told theprovince.com that he hopes to make his Giants debut Feb. 24th in Vancouver when the Seattle Thunderbirds come to town.
Meanwhile, Baer's Benilde teammates will be working to defend their Minnesota AA state title starting this week. The Red Knights are the No. 1 seed in 6AA, and open up post-season play on Thursday when they host the winner of Cooper/Armstrong.
For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter (@AndyJohnsonB5Q)
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)