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Hockey: Century's Will Zmolek commits to Bemidji State University

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Doug and Jenny Zmolek will have a tough decision to make in a couple of years.

Wear a Minnesota State hockey jersey, or a Bemidji State hockey jersey?

Maybe they could have one of those jerseys made that is half of each.

Or just watch the games from home when the MSU and BSU men's hockey teams face off.

Their oldest son, Riese, will be a freshman defenseman on the Minnesota State University, Mankato, team this fall. And a couple years down the road, there's a good chance he'll play against his brother, Will, when WCHA rivals MSU and BSU go head-to-head.

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Will Zmolek committed to coach Tom Serratore and Bemidji State on Wednesday.

"The whole process was fun, but I'm glad the decision is out of the way," Will Zmolek said Thursday afternoon. "I liked it in Bemidji right away. The campus is beautiful up there."

He's going to a program that has flourished since the college hockey landscape changed four years ago, with the restructuring of several conferences and creation of a new one.

The Beavers won the WCHA regular-season championship this past season, going 20-6-4 in conference play and 22-16-3 overall. They were knocked off by Bowling Green in the semifinals of the conference playoffs.

Serratore and Bemidji State's coaching staff — including assistants Travis Winter (a BSU alum) and Eddie Olczyk — told Zmolek they anticipate bringing him to campus for the 2019-20 season. That would allow him to play two more seasons of junior hockey.

"They want me to get a little bigger, stronger and faster," Will Zmolek said. "They want me to probably play two more years of juniors, and I expected that."

Zmolek is a draft pick of the USHL's Cedar Rapids Roughriders, where Riese played 106 games over two years and was a captain this past season.

Will made it through Cedar Rapids' main evaluation camp in June and will go back next month for the team's final camp prior to the start of the USHL season in September.

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If, for some reason, he does not make the team in Cedar Rapids, he said would love to return to the Minnesota Wilderness, the NAHL team in Cloquet, where he played 14 games at the end of last season.

"That helped me a lot," Zmolek said of his time with the Wilderness, "especially getting to play in the playoffs. Things were so fast and physical, and the arenas were always packed. It was a great atmosphere."

Zmolek had a stellar three-year high school career at Century, playing alongside Riese as a sophomore, when Riese was a senior.

Will recorded 42 points from the blue line as a senior, leading the team in scoring. He put up 42 goals and 31 assists total in his three high school seasons.

When he arrives at Bemidji State, he'll likely be the third member of his immediate family to play Division I college hockey in Minnesota. Riese will begin his college career this fall in Mankato and their dad, Doug, played three seasons at the University of Minnesota (1989-92) before spending eight seasons in the NHL. Doug has also served as an assistant coach at Century for five years.

"Will is a kid who wants to learn and grow," Century head coach Josh Klingfus said about Zmolek following his senior season. "He loves working out and he loves playing the game.

"He has fun, but he gives it his all. He always goes hard."

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