The greatest moment of Justin Fontaine
's hockey career came just over a week ago on the Xcel Energy Center ice. In his final collegiate game with Minnesota-Duluth, Fontaine watched teammate Kyle Schmidt tuck a shot past Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick to give the UMD Bulldogs their first national title.
Fontaine now has a chance to make more memories at Xcel Energy Center after having signed a two-year entry level deal with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
"It's definitely a building I'm always going to remember and love playing in," said Fontaine about the Wild's home barn.
While his classmate was the overtime hero, Fontaine played a major role in the Bulldogs' roll to the National Championship.
"It's finally becoming reality and sinking in with what we accomplished this year," he said of winning the title. "There's such a buzz around (Duluth) right now. It's great to be a part of it."
The senior winger on the top scoring line in college hockey piled up 58 points (22-36=58) in 42 games to rank third in the WCHA in overall scoring and fourth in the nation. He finished his stellar career with 62 goals and 102 assists for 164 points, and he recorded at least 46 points and averaged better than a point per game in each of his last three seasons.
The Bonnyville, Alberta native was one of several college players invited to the Wild's Development Camp last July. He had the chance to turn pro following his junior season, but opted to take one last shot at a title.
"I had a great time last summer, getting to know a little bit about their program," said Fontaine of his time at the camp. "I'm ready and happy to be a part of the organization. I've wanted to go there since last summer. I had a great time and met a lot of great people."
Fontaine's signing is the latest in Chuck Fletcher's two-year tenure, which has made landing top college free agents a priority. Since last season, the Wild has signed five college free agents: Casey Wellman (Massachusetts-Amherst), Nate Prosser
(Colorado College) and Jarod Palmer
(Miami-Ohio) in 2010, and Chay Genoway
(North Dakota) and Fontaine so far this offseason.
Wellman and Prosser have both seen time in the NHL over the last two seasons, while Palmer posted 28 points (9-19=28) in 65 games with the Houston Aeros.