Vermont recruit Zemgus Girgensons will not play for the Catamounts in 2012-13 after signing an NHL contract Friday with the Buffalo Sabres.
Girgensons was Buffalo’s first-round pick (14th overall) at last month’s NHL draft in Pittsburgh.
“Throughout the recruiting process, Zemgus has been very loyal to UVM, turning down offers to play major junior hockey as well as Russia’s premier professional league, the KHL, in order to maintain his goal of playing for the Catamounts,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said in a statement. “We have stated often that if we are going to lose Zemgus, we hope it’s to the NHL team that selects him in the draft. Buffalo feels confident that Zemgus can play for them this year as well as with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
“Though we are disappointed that we won’t have the opportunity to coach him, we are very optimistic about our incoming class as well as our returning student-athletes and we will continue to prepare for a great 2012-13 season.”
Girgensons also commented in a statement released through the school.
“I would like to thank coach Sneddon and his staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for UVM,” said Girgensons. “This was a very difficult decision for me to say the least. I always felt that the NCAA was the best way for me to develop on and off the ice. After attending the Buffalo Sabres camp and learning their plans for me, I feel I am ready to begin my professional career.
“I will always be thankful for what the coaching staff has done for me as well as the current players. I love UVM, the community and the fans. I will always be a Cat and will always cheer for UVM.”
Girgensons began his junior career in 2009-10 with the Green Mountain Glades, based in Vermont, of the Eastern Junior Hockey League and played the last two seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, winning a Clark Cup title in 2011 and being named captain this past season.