Following in some big skates: Gopher fans remember Lance Pitlick. So does any player in the WCHA or NHL who was on the receiving end of Lance Pitlick, A tough, powerful forward, Pitlick notched just only 34 points in four seasons at Minnesota (1986-1990) but that isn’t why he was there. At six feet and 190, Pitlick was tough enough to bore a hole through many a defender and create scoring chances for other players. He picked up 285 penalty minutes including 88 as a freshman! (Yes, college puck has changed.)
Pitlick was drafted in the ninth round (180th overall) by the North Stars in 1986 but never suited up for them. After a stint in the minors, he played eight seasons in the NHL with Ottawa and Florida.
Now, 23 years after he last wore Maroon and Gold, Pitlick will soon make a fresh contribution to U.M. hockey: his son, Rem.
Rem Pitlick is an incoming junior at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, one of the great hockey incubators. He has verbally committed to the Gophers and could skate at Mariucci in 2015. It’s more likely to be a season or two later.
Pitlick was third on Shattuck’s U16 team last season with 56 points and was a number one draft of the USHL Waterloo Blackhawks (12th overall). Despite the high pick, he’s expected to return to Shattuck for the 2013-14 season.
Name’s the same but not the frame (yet): One big reason why Rem won’t follow in the footsteps of incoming freshman Taylor Cammarata, who left Shattuck for the USHL after his sophomore season, is his size. While Lance was a mountain on skates, Rem is more like a pesky molehill at the moment. Perhaps that’s been an advantage among the bigger skaters. Now it’s a question of growing into his body while continuing to hone what is obviously a serious collection of offensive skills.
Rem was listed on Shattuck’s roster at 5’3”, 130 pounds, last season,
So while Pitlick could be eligible to join the Gophers upon graduation in two years it may be that he’ll still need a season or two in the USHL to be ready. Not all players jump into juniors at 16. A number don’t hit the junior ranks – which is practically a requirement prior to playing Division I hockey today – until they’re 18.
One of the joys of covering a program like Minnesota’s over the seasons is that legacy players like Rem Pitlick continue to return to the fold. We’ll watch him grow – skills-wise and literally – over the coming couple of seasons. Then, while his skill set may be different, if he’s anything like his old man, just get out of the way.