AAA  Aug. 26, 2014 7:21 PM ET
Cathedral hockey standout commits to Air Force
Tom Elliott, St. Cloud Times, Minn. (MCT)
McClatchy/Tribune - MCT Information Services
  •       AIM
  •       Share

Buy AP Photo Reprints

Dan Bailey went into the June figuring his dream of playing college hockey, if not over, was unlikely.

The 2014 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate was accepted by Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., which doesn't have hockey. He figured he'd major in science, probably biology, and work his way toward a medical career.

But the hockey itch was still there. He went to an Omaha Lancers tryout, the Lancers being a traditionally strong junior hockey outfit in the United States Hockey League.

There, he caught the eye of Air Force Academy assistant Andy Berg. From there, Bailey got an invitation to a showcase camp on the Air Force Academy campus in Colorado Springs, Colo.

After that, an official campus visit was scheduled for Aug. 17-19. By Monday evening, Bailey had given the Falcons' coaching staff a verbal commitment.

"It has been a crazy 90 days or so," said Bailey, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound defenseman.

Bailey also has scrapped the Creighton plan, at least for now. He is playing junior hockey for the Wentachee Wild (Wash.) of the North American Hockey League. It's a Tier II junior team; the Lancers are Tier I.

"This whole summer took a 180," said Bailey by phone from his host family home in Wenatchee, a city of 33,000 in southeastern Washington.

"I just went to the (Lancers tryout camp) tryout for the heck of it, just to see if I could make a junior team," Bailey said. "And one thing led to another."

Bailey was a St. Cloud Times all-area team performer his senior year when the Crusaders went 21-9-1, earned a state Class A tournament berth and finished sixth in the state.

Bailey was Cathedral's top-scoring defenseman with seven goals and 31 assists. That ranked him fourth in the state among Class A defensemen.

None of that, however, garnered much attention from Division I college scouts. That's why Bailey, an excellent student, decided to go the academic route.

"It (Division I hockey) was always a goal, especially growing up in Minnesota," Bailey said. "Hockey is one of the biggest things out there."

He isn't sure whether he'll report to the Air Force Academy after this season or in two years. The Falcons went 21-14-4 under head coach Frank Serratore, a Coleraine native whose brother, Tom Serratore, is the head coach at Bemidji State. Tom Serratore is a former St. Cloud State assistant.

Wenatchee's season starts in September. Bailey is participating in daily practices. The Wild were 29-23-8 in the NAHL Western Division, which includes the Minnesota Wilderness of Cloquet and the Minnesota Magic of Richfield.

"I could be here one year or two years or I could got to another team or league after this year," Bailey said. "Junior hockey is basically a one-day-at-a-time deal ....

"As of now, it's probably two years of juniors. But they (the Falcons coaches) said they'd talk to me and do some evaluating after the season."

Air Force also should help him reach his academic goals. Upon graduation, he also would have a five-year military commitment.

"I'm still kind of digesting everything," Bailey said. "It's been a crazy summer."

Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom.

———

©2014 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)

Visit the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

_____

Topics: t000002953,t000044134,t000047707,t000138183,t000047682,t000047680,g000065627,g000362661,g000066164,g000225324

  •       AIM
  •       Share