Dylan Cook commits to NCAA I University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Alexandria, MN (Aug. 8, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights alumni, Dylan Cook, committed to University of Massachusetts-Lowell over the weekend. UMass-Lowell is a public research university in Lowell, Massachusetts and the River Hawks are members of Hockey East. Last season, The Riverhawks posted a record of 18-15-3 and advanced to the Hockey East semifinals. “It is an absolute honor to be able to commit to such a historic college hockey program like Lowell”, Cook said. “The opportunity to represent them over the next few years of my life is pretty special and surreal! I owe a ton of credit to my coaches and staff at Northstar for helping me the past few years to grow into who I am today on and off the ice. I want to thank God for blessing me with this opportunity and guiding me down this path! All the glory to the Lord! All in all, it is a very special moment in my life and I won’t forget it!”

Cook began his high school career with Princeton High School in Minnesota were he accumulated 103 points (35G, 68A) in 49 games played from 2018-2020. Following his two seasons at Princeton, Cook joined the Knights where he instantly became an impact player and beloved teammate in the locker room. During the 2020-21 season, Cook suited up for 34 games where he scored 50 points (25G, 25A) and helped his team win the 2021-22 NAPHL Championship. His 50 points ranked 3rd on the Knights in scoring behind Reese Laubach (Penn State) and Cody Croal (North Dakota). In the 2021-22 season, Cook nearly doubled his point production registering 94 points (35G, 59A) in 57 games played. His 94 points ranked 3rd on the Knights and his 59 assists tied for 2nd with Croal. The Knights team also repeated as the NAPHL Champions in 2021-22 and Cook was selected to participate in the NAPHL all star game. This past season, Cook played for the Austin Bruins of the NAHL where they advanced to the championship game. In 59 games played, Cook scored 40 points (18G, 22A) which led the team for rookie skaters and also ranked in the top 10 in the entire NAHL for rookies. 

“Dylan Cook made a large impact during his time here at Northstar”, said 18U Prep Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi. “God put a special personality in Dylan that connects people, leads others and he is a true light. We’re excited for him to commit to Umass Lowell and know he will continue to make an impact on the ice and more importantly off the ice, both this year at Austin and the following year as he moves on to college.”

Congratulations Dylan and we look forward to supporting your continued success on and off the ice at Lowell! The Knights are officially 1 month away from move-in weekend. Follow along to stay up to date for your Northstar Knights news.


Tommy Prendergast commits to NCAA I Western Michigan University

Alexandria, MN (Aug. 4, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights incoming 18U Prep forward, Tommy Prendergast, has committed to NCAA I Western Michigan. “I am honored and excited to announce my commitment to play division 1 hockey at the University of Western Michigan”, Prendergast said in a social media post last night. “They have an amazing hockey program and staff who are committed to the players and making sure you’re the best player you can be as well as a person. I would like to thank all my teammates, coaches, and family who have helped me along my journey so far. I can’t wait to get started!” 

Prendergast joins the Knights following 3 years with the Colorado Thunderbirds Program where he played from 2020-2023. Following the 2022 season, Prendergast was drafted 63rd overall by the Green Bay Gamblers in Phase 1 of the 2022 USHL. The Denver, CO native also competed with USA Hockey at their 2021, 2022 and 2023 summer player development camps. 

Last season, Prendergast led his 16U Thunderbirds team in points, scoring 67 points (29G, 38A) in 55 games played. His consistent production earned him a call up with the Green Bay Gamblers where he suited up for 4 games and registered 1 assist against the USNTDP on january 14th. 

Joey Padmanabhan, an EP Rinkside scout, had high praise for Prendergast. “He uses the lateral crossover exceptionally well to challenge defencemen head-on and then burn them in the other direction”, Padmanabhan said in his report. “There were a few occasions where he was able to turn the corner on opponents through this technique. Prendergast’s speed makes him an impact player in transition as well, he works to pick up opposing forwards on the rush. His speed is his biggest asset, but there’s a lot to like here.” 

With Prendergast signing with the Knights, they will now feature one of the top forward groups in 18U AAA hockey. “I am excited for Tommy to know where he is going to play college hockey and to help give him something that we can all work together to help prepare him for one day.” 18U Prep Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi said. “He is committing to a great coaching staff in a very good league in the NCHC. We are looking forward to a great season coaching Tommy and the rest of the players coming to Northstar this year.”


Northstar names Jessica Schmidt as the Director of Academics

Alexandria, MN (July. 28, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

The Northstar Knights are excited to announce the addition of Jessica Schmidt as the Director of Academics. In her role, Schmidt will be responsible for academic advising, student affairs and educational leadership. We are excited to have Jessica Schmidt join our staff as academic Director”, said Interim Northstar Director, Dallas Steward. “Jessica’s leadership brings abilities and experiences enhancing NorthStars desire for quality education and passion for discipleship.”

Schmidt began her journey by earning her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from St. Cloud State University. From there, she earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Grand Canyon University. She is currently working on earning her Master’s in Special Education. Among her qualifications, Schmidt has her Minnesota Teaching License and is a certified ACSI Principal, which allows her to be a principal for grades K-12.

Schmidt started out her education career at Life Christian School, a preK-12th grade school in Aloha, OR. She began as a general education teacher in upper elementary.  From there, she was promoted to  administration where she served as Athletic Director and then moved into the Principal role. Her job duties included developing standardized curricula, assessing teaching methods, monitoring student achievement, administering the budget, hiring, fundraising, evaluating staff, and overseeing facilities. 

In 2020, Schmidt moved back to Minnesota where she served as the Assistant Director of Academics at Northstar until August 2021. While serving in her first stint at Northstar, Schmit provided strategic direction in the school system, monitored student achievements and made sure students were following NCAA regulations.

From 2021 to 2023, Schmidt held the role of Special Education Teacher for the Alexandria Area School District where she would build connections with students with disabilities and their families to advocate for their specialized education plan.  She would also collaborate with general education teachers and specialized service providers to create, maintain, adapt, and establish an individualized education plan.  

Jessica is married to Eric Schmidt who is a worship pastor at The Church in the Pines in Alexandria.  Together, they have four children: Kobe, Gavyn, Fiona and Milo.  

“I’m thrilled and honored to be welcomed as the Director of Academics at Northstar”, Schmidt said. “I am looking forward to continuing the drive for excellence in the classroom that has been established. Building connections and sharing the love of Christ with the students is something I have a passion for. With my experience in education and transformative leadership style, I plan to bring the academic culture to a new level of collaboration, student-driven, and self-motivating.  Partnering with parents is necessary for the success of the student’s academic journey and I can’t wait to build those relationships. I give all the glory to God and feel extremely grateful for this opportunity!  Go, Knights!”  

The Knights begin their year September 11th and their first games will be September 15-17 at the Minnesota Blades showcase in Blaine, MN. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the full 2023-24 season schedule!


Minnesota natives, Joe Westlund and Luke Anderson, Commit to NCAA III Bethel University

Alexandria, MN (July. 26, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights alumni, Joe Westlund (Alexandria, MN) and Luke Anderson (St. Cloud, MN), have committed to NCAA III Bethel University. Bethel University is a Christian college located in Arden Hills, MN and the hockey program is coached by a great man of faith and hockey mind, Chris McKelvie. Westlund and Anderson join a strong 2023 recruiting class for the Bethel Royals. 

Westlund came to Northstar in 2020 following 3 productive seasons at Alexandria Area High School where he totaled 46 points (22G, 24A) in 70 games played. In the 2020-21 season with the 18U Knights, Westlund suited up for 42 games played and scored 41 points (14G, 27A) en route to helping his team win the NAPHL Championship. Upon graduating from Northstar, Westlund signed with the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL where he would play from 2021-2023. Overall, Westlund skated in 112 games and recorded 31 points (9G, 22A) to go along with 171 Penalty Minutes. “It means a lot to commit to such an amazing school,” Westlund said. “Bethel University will not only provide an excellent education and allow me to continue my hockey career, but is a school that will pour into me as a man and help me grow in my faith journey!” 

The Knights look forward to watching Westlund continue to make an impact moving forward in his hockey career. “Joe Westlund is all heart,” said 18U Prep Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi. “A leader, highly competitive and brought real care to his every second at Northstar. I am excited that he will bring that character to a place like Bethel, where Coach Mckelvie loves his players and has a great culture.”

Anderson joined the inaugural Knights team in 2018 from St. Cloud Cathedral High School. In 55 games played in the 2018-19 season, the defenseman scored 42 points (13G, 29A) which ranked 2nd among the Knights defensemen. In the 2019-20 season Anderson scored 29 points (10G, 19A) in 54 games played where he earned an invite to the NAPHL All Star game. Following his time at Northstar, Anderson played the 2020-21 season with the Minnesota Wilderness where he scored 2 points (0G, 2A) in 26 games. The following season, Anderson signed with the Kenai River Brown Bears where he quickly became a lockdown player on their blueline from 2021-2023, totaling 108 games played while chipping in with 25 points (1G, 24A). “I’m super excited to join the bethel community,” said Anderson. “Getting to meet some of the guys and go on campus at the end of the year made it clear that Bethel is a special place with even better people. I can’t wait to get there and be part of such a great culture for the next 4 years.” Anderson received high praise from former 18U Prep Coach, John Olver. “I am thrilled, but not at all surprised, to see Luke Anderson achieve his goal of becoming a NCAA College Hockey athlete,” said Olver. “From the moment Luke stepped foot onto our campus at Northstar Christian Academy we knew that he was a very special young man that was destined to succeed. He was mature beyond his years and strongly committed to his faith, to his family, and to achieving academic and athletic excellence. Bethel University is gaining a tremendous hockey player and teammate, but more importantly, they are gaining a Godly man who possesses high character, integrity and strong Christian values.”

Westlund and Anderson will join fellow Knights alumni, KJ Hjelm, at Bethel next season and now join a prestigious list of 16 other Knights alumni who are committed to or playing NCAA I or NCAA III College Hockey. That list includes KJ Hjelm (Bethel University), Calvin Hanson (St. Norbert College), Jeremy McDonald (Framingham State), Tyler Ryder (University of Wisconsin-Superior), Joey Dosan (Army), Cody Croal and Ben Strinden (University of North Dakota), Reese Laubach (Penn State University), Jacob Napier (Western Michigan), Jens Richards (Vermont), Austin Moline (Northern Michigan), Jakob Stender (Minnesota State), Anthony Menghini (University of Minnesota Duluth), Kade Peterson (Long Island University), Talon Sigurdson (Clarkson University) and Lincoln Hjelm (University of Nebraska-Omaha). 


Knights add Joe Cullen to Coaching Staff

Alexandria, MN (July. 25, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

The Northstar Knights are excited to announce the addition of Joe Cullen to their Coaching Staff. Cullen will coach the 18U Prep team alongside Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi. 

Cullen brings a wealth of experience to the Knights hockey staff. Cullen began his hockey career at Moorhead High School where he was recruited to play for the National Team Development Program. Cullen then played collegiately for 4 seasons at Colorado College where his team made 3 NCAA tournament appearances, winning 1 WCHA Championship and Joe was named “defensive player of the year” in the WCHA 2002-03 season. His abilities led him to being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2000 NHL Draft. After graduating, Cullen carved out an 11 year professional playing career making stops in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy and Scotland before he retired in 2014. Cullen finished with over 400 points scored in 500+ pro games played. After retiring from being a player, Cullen transitioned into coaching and became the head coach for Gentry Academy in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota where he coached for 5 consecutive years, winning a state championship in 2021. 

“We are thrilled to add Joe Cullen to Northstar as a great coach and mentor to our players by investing in their life, leading them in their faith”, said Interim Northstar Director, Dallas Steward. This move allows Joe and his family to fulfill many of their dreams including being a part of a Christian based school.

“I’m very honored to be chosen to further God’s kingdom through hockey at Northstar”, said Culen. “My family and I are looking forward to joining this incredible organization.” Coach Cullen comes to Alexandria with his wife Alyse, Daughter Teagan (14), Son Weston (13), and Daughter Merritt (3). 


Blaise Miller commits to NCAA III Concordia College

Alexandria, MN (July. 19, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knight Alumni, Blaise Miller, has committed to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Miller came to the Knights for the 2020-21 season following 2 seasons with Grand Forks Central High School. In 40 games played for the Knights, the Minot, ND native put up 34 points (17G, 17A) and helped the team win the 18U NAPHL Championship. “Blaise brought an infectious smile to Northstar and always made it a fun day”, said 18U Prep Coach, Rylan Galiardi. “He was a power forward that when he took the puck to the net no one could stop him.”

After his time with the Knights, Miller would play the 2021-22 season with the Bismarck Bobcats in the NAHL where he scored 8 points (5G, 3A) in 33 games played. He would then move to the Oklahoma Warriors in the NAHL for the 2022-23 season where he would score 23 points (14G, 9A) in 58 games played en route to helping the Warriors capture the 2023 Robertson Cup. Arguably one of his biggest goals of his career came in the Championship game to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead over the Austin Bruins. Winning a championship was a great way to cap off his junior career, but Miller still has a lot to look forward to at Concordia College.  “I’m looking forward to playing for a good team, and trying to make a run at the title this year,” Miller said. “I am excited for school and to be successful in that category as well.”

Miller and the Warriors after winning the 2023 Robertson Cup (Photo from Eli Swanson / The Rink Live)
Miller with his Championship Medal (Photo from NAHL Instagram)

See Below for Miller's Championship goal vs. the Austin Bruins


The entire Knights program wants to congratulate Blaise on his commitment to Concordia and we look forward to watching him continue his hockey career close to Alexandria!


Calvin Hanson commits to NCAA III St. Norbert College

Alexandria, MN (July. 18, 2023)

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected]

Northstar Knights alumni, Calvin Hanson, has committed to St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. St. Norbert recently won the NCAA III Championship in 2018 and Hanson will be looking to add to an already strong program. “Commiting to St. Norbert is super exciting for me to have the opportunity to go play college hockey and to learn more and meet new people”, Hanson said about his commitment.

Hanson played for the 18U Prep team from 2020-21 after completing 4 years at Kittson High School where he racked up 142 points (78G, 64A) in 89 games played. In his lone season with the Knights, the Hallock, MN native ranked 5th on the Knights in scoring contributing 44 points (17G, 27A) in 43 games and helping his team win the 2020-21 NAPHL Championship. “Cal was tough as nails and a Northstar Knight warrior”, said 18U Prep Coach, Rylan Galiardi. “Off the ice he was more of a quiet leader but when he spoke up you knew it was important and came from the heart.”

After his time with the Knights, Hanson suited up for the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL where he put up 80 points (33G, 47A) in 111 games played from 2021-2023. “We are so proud of him and expect him to play a pivotal role immediately with St Norbert”, said Galiardi. As he transitions from junior hockey to collegiate hockey, Hanson has turned to scripture to guide his next steps.“A verse that I like when I think about my future is Proverbs 19:20-21”, said Hanson. “It says, “listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a human's heart, but it’s the Lord's purpose that prevails.””

The Knights are excited to follow Hanson’s next step in his hockey career and wish him the best of luck at St. Norbert College. Stay tuned for more college commitments from Knights alumni!

Jeremy McDonald Commits to NCAA III Framingham State

Alexandria, MN (July. 17, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights alumni, Jeremy McDonald has committed to Framingham State University in Framingham, MA. The Lockport, NY native played for the Knights during the 2020-21 season where he put up 20 points (4G, 16A) in 41 games, en route to helping his team with the 18U NAPHL championship. Following his time at Northstar, he returned back to his home state to play for the 18U Buffalo Jr. Sabres where he scored 27 points (8G, 19A) in 52 games played. His 27 points ranked 1st among defensemen on the team. This past season, McDonald suited up for 32 games for the Utica Jr. Comets in the (USPHL Premier) where he scored 31 points (7A, 24A).

“I’m extremely happy to commit to Framingham State University”, said McDonald. “I couldn’t have achieved this without The Lord, my family, and all of the amazing coaches I’ve had. Framingham State gives me the opportunity to continue and advance my education. I was drawn to Framingham’s small class size and talented professors that will help me on my political science/pre-law track. From the hockey side, I was drawn to a program with a tight knit culture. Framingham’s hockey program is a program on the rise with a very high level of talent, and I’m very excited to get the opportunity to play alongside other players from the USPHL and watch Framingham rise through the ranks of NCAA Division III Hockey”. 18U Prep Coach, Rylan Galiardi had high praise when asked about his time coaching McDonald. “Jeremy was a fun player to coach with a strong mind for the game and one of the smartest young men I have coached at any level”, said Galiardi. “We know he will continue to represent Northstar well at “Framingham State University”

Stay tuned for more news on Knight’s alumni making college commitments this summer!


Kade Peterson Commits to NCAA DI Long Island University

Alexandria, MN (July. 11, 2023) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights Alumni, Kade Peterson, has committed to NCAA D1 Long Island University. Long Island University’s hockey program began in the 2020-21 season and is located in Brooklyn, New York. Since their inception, they have operated as an independent team and last season they gained notable wins against #20 Alaska Fairbanks and #12 Ohio State. 

Peterson came to Northstar in 2019 from West Fargo, North Dakota. During the 2019-20 season, Peterson put up 28 points (14G, 14A) in 56 games played for the 18U Prep team. In the 2020-21 season, Peterson put up 30 points (11G, 19A) in 39 games played en route to helping his team win the 2020-21 NAPHL Championship. 

Following his time with Northstar, Peterson tendered with the St. Cloud Norsemen where he played from 2021-2023. In 117 games played, Peterson totaled 81 points (39G, 42A) and led his team in scoring this past season with 50 points (25G, 25A) in 60 games played. Following his breakout season, Peterson was drafted by the Fargo Force in the 13th round of the Phase 2 USHL draft. Peterson has now capped off his busy summer with his commitment to LIU. 

“This commitment is obviously a big deal for me”, said Peterson. “It has been a long journey throughout my years at Northstar and juniors but in the end I loved every minute of it and I can’t thank the staff at Northstar and FCA enough for pushing me along and helping throughout this process.”

“We’re so excited for Kade and his commitment to LIU”, said 18U Prep Coach, Rylan Galiardi. “He grew immensely in his time at Northstar and was a joy to coach and build a relationship with. He will be a strong representation of Northstar as he moves on to college hockey.” 


Stay tuned as we have more college commitment announcements coming soon!


House a Northstar Knight

The Northstar Knights are looking for host families to house Northstar Knight players. Hosting a Northstar Knight is an opportunity for families to develop a deep connection with young men during an important time in their life. Our student-athletes come to Alexandria, Minnesota from all over the United States and our host families play an important role to love, teach, and help these young men grow. The Knights players will stay in Alexandria from September 2023 through May 2024. Please contact Mark Abalan ([email protected]) or Dallas Steward ([email protected]) if you are interested!