Sharks sign UMD’s Mike Connolly

Just days after its first national title, Minnesota-Duluth will look to retain that championship next season without junior forward Mike Connolly, who from a report in the Duluth News Tribune, will sign with the San Jose Sharks.

“Any player just wants an opportunity to play, and the coaching staff here gave me a chance. The rest is up to you,” said Connolly in the report. “I was pretty fortunate to play here with such good teams. I talked with my parents and the coaching staff about my future, and I’m excited about the next challenge.”

Connolly said the final details of the contract have yet to be worked out and he’d officially sign within a few days.

Connolly led the Bulldogs in goals this season with 28 and had 54 points in 42 games. He will leave UMD with 55 goals and 81 assists for 136 points in 123 games.

“Mike has been a heck of a player for us for three years and I’m happy for him,” added Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin. “We would’ve loved to have had him for another season, but there’s more of a chance for players his size now in the NHL and this is a great opportunity.

“He was as good as anyone on our team this season and is a gritty player with a great intelligence for the game.”

UPDATE: The Sharks made the signing official on Friday with a press release.

“Mike has proven his ability at the collegiate level and we are excited to help him take the next step in his hockey career,” said San Jose GM Doug Wilson. “Head coach Scott Sandelin and assistant coaches Brett Larson and Derek Plante at Minnesota-Duluth have created a terrific, winning environment for young players to succeed and Mike will benefit from that experience moving forward.”