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HOCKEY: Archibald makes it official — he’s playing for Nebraska-Omaha

Brainerd’s Josh Archibald skated up the ice in a Jan. 27 game against Moorhead.

Josh Archibald had made a verbal commitment in February to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha and play Division I hockey for the Mavericks.

On Wednesday, at Brainerd Area Civic Center, Archibald made it official as he signed his NCAA National Letter of Intent to play for UNO.

“It’s definitely been a dream since I knew what college hockey was and I found out my dad played college hockey,” he said. “It was kind of a goal, what I wanted to become was a college hockey player, so it’s great.”

Archibald, the Brainerd Warriors’ single-season scoring leader (78 points) and second-leading scorer in program history (152), visited UNO, Bowling Green and Bemidji State. He also spoke with Northern Michigan and Minnesota State Mankato but chose UNO, which finished the season in the top 15 of both national Division I polls.

At UNO, Archibald will play for head coach Dean Blais, who was an assistant at North Dakota when Josh’s father, Jim Archibald, played for the Fighting Sioux. Josh said he’s not sure whether he will play next year or be red-shirted.

“I leave the Friday or Saturday after we graduate, so I’ll be there all summer, and hopefully I will find out then,” he said. “They haven’t technically told their players what they’re going to be doing with lines and stuff but hopefully I will find out during the summer.”

Archibald said the opportunity to play for Blais persuaded factors to attend UNO.

“Definitely, it’s Dean Blais, the great things he does with that program, and what he’s done in the past,” Josh said. “It’s a great school, they have great school programs, and hopefully their hockey team will become good in the next few years.”

In his first year at Omaha, Blais led the Mavericks to a 20-16-6 overall record in their final season in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Last season, Blais guided the Mavericks to a 21-16-2 overall mark, 17-9-2 in their first season in the WCHA. 

Previously, Blais won two national championships at UND and was runner-up in 2001. Overall, the International Falls native guided the Sioux to seven NCAA appearances, five regular-season WCHA titles and two WCHA playoff championships, in addition to the national titles.

“I know Dean very well,” Jim Archibald said. “You just have to look at his track record. Not only is he a great coach, he’s a great person. We’re really happy for Josh. We’re excited for him and wish him the best.”

North Dakota might have seemed a sentimental favorite to land Josh. His mother, Anne, attended and swam for UND. Other members of Josh’s family have attended, or are currently attending, UND.

“As parents, we told Josh we want you to go somewhere where you want to go, somewhere where they really want you to be,” Jim said. “We didn’t put any pressure on him at all. We told him to take a look at everything, and at anybody that was willing to take a look at him.

“We think he made a great decision. He sat down and weighed out all the options. He took the pros and cons and decided that’s where he wants to be, and we’re happy for him.”

Josh will become the fourth Warrior in five years to play Division I hockey, joining Carl Sneep (Boston College), Chris Peluso (Bemidji State) and Drew Olson (national champion Minnesota-Duluth).

“Definitely, Brainerd is being put on the map with Sneep, (Peluso) and Drew and now some other guys hopefully will be stepping up,” Josh said. “It’s a great high school program. BAHA is starting to come around so the younger kids are starting to get in and realize what hockey is really all about.”

Josh played three varsity seasons for the Warriors, who are coached by his father.

“The hockey association and the high school program here is putting out some Division I players,” Jim Archibald said. “Any time that an athlete can use his athletic ability to better himself as a person, and get an education, it’s just fabulous. It says a lot about the hockey program here in Brainerd so we’re happy, and hopefully we can keep helping kids achieve their dreams.”

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at or at 855-5861.