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Victoria hockey prodigy Kosick chooses NCAA over WHL

Noah Kosick decides to play in the NCAA for University of Michigan Wolverines instead of going to Calgary Hitmen
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Noah Kosick has committed to play in the NCAA for the University of Michigan Wolverines. SUBMITTED

Fans wondered why top-ranked Noah Kosick of Victoria slid to 11th in the 2023 Western Hockey League prospects draft with even the hometown Victoria Royals passing on him at No. 4 in favour of defenceman Keaton Verhoeff.

Now they know, as Kosick officially committed this weekend to play in the NCAA for the University of Michigan Wolverines instead of the Calgary Hitmen, who took the gamble on him last year with the 11th pick in the WHL draft.

In doing so, Kosick will follow in his dad’s skate grooves. Mark Kosick came out of the Victoria Salsa (now Grizzlies) of the B.C. Hockey League to play four seasons in the Big Ten for Michigan and won the NCAA Frozen Four national championship in 1998 before playing 12 seasons of pro hockey in Germany.

“My dad won an NCAA championship at Michigan and it will be cool to follow in that path and play where he did,” said Noah Kosick.

Noah Kosick’s mind was nearly made up for the Hitmen and WHL as he had turned down numerous and ardent fly-down offers to visit NCAA campuses. But as a last piece of business this month, and to satisfy a gnawing curiosity, Kosick decided to accept one NCAA recruiting trip. It was to Ann Arbor and it would prove fateful.

“I knew I would regret it if I didn’t,” he said.

“The facilities are fantastic and the campus is great. And the Wolverines play my style of play.”

A choice was made and a career trajectory set.

“Noah is his own person and made his own decision,” said dad Mark Kosick, who coaches his son in the Langford-based Pacific Coast Hockey Academy Sea Devils program.

“He turned down at least 10 NCAA recruiting trips and had his full sights on Calgary and the WHL. But the trip down to Ann Arbor proved to be unbelievable. [Michigan head coach] Brandon Naurato is the smartest hockey mind I’ve come across. He is exactly the kind of coach we want Noah to play for.”

Noah Kosick is a centre listed at five-foot-eight and 134 pounds. He had 12 goals and 50 assists for 62 points in 29 games this season for the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy Sea Devils Under-18 team against players up to three years older. He was also on the Sea Devils U-18 team last season in Langford as a 14-year-old and had 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points in 32 games against players then up to four years older.

“Competing against older players has really challenged me and pushed me to get better,” said Kosick.

Kosick was rated No. 1 but at the time of last year’s WHL draft said it was 50-50 which route he would choose, which clearly scared away the teams selecting in the top 10.

The WHL’s loss is a boon not only for the NCAA, but also for the BCHL or USHL. Kosick is only 15 and will play two seasons of junior before heading to Ann Arbor for the 2026-27 NCAA season, creating what is expected to be a frenzied recruiting battle between the Island BCHL clubs Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals, Nanaimo Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Another option is the USHL.

“I am looking at a few options and talking to a few teams in the BCHL and USHL,” said Kosick.

“It’s a matter of who will prepare Noah best to make an impact when he gets to Ann Arbor,” said Mark Kosick.

The elder Kosick, 44, played in the BCHL on the hometown Grizzlies (then Salsa) with teammates such as future NHLers Matt Pettinger and Greg Zanon, and Anaheim Ducks draft pick Jesse Fibiger. Mark Kosick was recruited by Michigan. Following his NCAA career with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, he played pro with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL followed by a career in Germany with the Berlin Polar Bears, Kassel Huskies, Wolfsburg EHC, Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams, Herne EV and Fischtown Penguins.

Noah Kosick was born in Kassel, Germany, during his dad’s pro stint in that country and moved to the family’s hometown of Victoria at age seven.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com