The University of Manitoba recently signed a pair of former Tri-City Americans.
Defenseman Tyler Schmidt and forward Neal Prokop, both Winnipeg natives, will play for the Bisons this fall.
They will join former Tri-City forward Blair Macauley, who already has played two years at Manitoba.
"I talked to some of the farm teams and they offered me contracts, and I had offers from Europe, but I decided to go to school and not waste the (Western Hockey League) scholarship money," said Schmidt, who will major in commerce and business. "I know a few of the guys on the team. It's nice to go somewhere where you know people. It will be weird being a rookie. I haven't been that for five years."
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Schmidt played his entire five-year WHL career with the Americans. A steady stay-at-home defenseman, Schmidt had 165 points (33 goals, 132 assists) and 643 penalty minutes in 20 games. He had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 61 playoff games.
Schmidt, 21, played a key role in helping the Americans win three U.S. Division titles and a Western Conference title in 2010.
The Bisons will leave Aug. 24 for Europe, where they will play games in Italy, Austria and Germany.
"It will be an interesting trip," Schmidt said. "I've never been to that part of the world. It will be fun. We have about five skates over the next two weeks before we leave."
Schmidt also has an amateur tryout agreement with the Edmonton Oilers. He will attend the Oilers camp starting Sept. 9.
Until then, Schmidt is doing a little fishing with his dad, Mike. They will compete in a walleye tournament today at Lake of the Woods just outside of Kenora, Ontario.
"It's our first (competition) of the year," Schmidt said. "We'll see what we can do."
Prokop, 21, who has worked hockey camps this summer, spent the last two years of his WHL career with the Americans.
During the 2009-10 season, Prokop had 22 goals and 23 assists in 67 games. He was hurt in Game 3 of the Chilliwack playoff series, breaking his left femur. After a long recovery, Prokop rejoined the Americans last year but was limited to 17 regular-season games, in which he had four goals and seven assists.
Prokop has completed two years of college and plans to pursue a degree in kinesiology.
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org