Goalie John Gibson de-commits from Michigan hockey team, signs with OHL's Kitchener Rangers
-- Updated at 3:15 p.m.
For the second season in a row, the Michigan hockey team has lost its top goalie recruit to the professional ranks.
John Gibson, the 39th overall pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the June NHL Entry Draft, informed Michigan coach Red Berenson on Wednesday that he would not be attending Michigan.
"John Gibson has decided not to attend the University of Michigan or to play college hockey,” Berenson said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
Gibson said in a phone interview that he would be joining the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League and the team announced that he had been signed shortly thereafter.
"It's never an easy decision to make," Gibson said. "It was a long and hard decision. It was what me and family thought was the best decision."
Gibson, who played in Ann Arbor for the United States National Team Development Program for the past two years, signed a letter of intent with the Wolverines in May and in June reiterated to AnnArbor.com his intention to play at Michigan regardless of what happened in the draft.
Michigan's top goalie recruit for the 2010 class, Jack Campbell, de-committed to join the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League in November 2009. Gibson and Campbell have the same agent, Kurt Overhardt.
The Rangers drafted Gibson in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection draft and hold his OHL rights. Though drafted by the Ducks in the NHL draft, Gibson was not signed by the team according to a spokesperson with the Syracuse Crunch, the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate. The Ducks still hold Gibson's NHL rights and could sign him in the future.
"John plays with confidence and has the unique ability to control his rebounds," Rangers head scout Murray Hiebert said in a statement on the team's website. "He has a pedigree of success. His combination of size and athleticism allow him to be a great prospect for the Anaheim Ducks and we look forward to having John with us in Kitchener."
Gibson's decision comes just five weeks before the start of school and leaves Michigan with incumbent starter Shawn Hunwick, a fifth-year senior, and sophomore Adam Janecyk, who logged two minutes of ice time last season, as the only goalies on the roster.
Prior to the June draft, Gibson told AnnArbor.com that he intended to attend Michigan and compete for the starting position with Hunwick. He reiterated those statements in an video interview with Anaheim Ducks Hockey Network at the team’s conditioning camp, which took place June 30-July 5.
“I’m looking forward to going (to Michigan) and seeing what happens from there and hopefully I’ll be the starter there halfway through the season,” Gibson told the Ducks media outlet. “It’s what they need here and if you feel like you’re ready. So you don’t want to jump too fast and just kinda, they said play it out, take it one year at a time.”
Gibson said he meant the comments at the time, but that he never ruled out the option to turn pro in his head. The more he thought about it, the more attractive the option seemed.
"It’s an ideal situation for Gibson to have someone like Hunwick to talk to, room with on the road get to know him. Shawn’s not worried about losing his job," Berenson told AnnArbor.com prior to the draft. "He’ll groom John to take over the program, part of that grooming is competition.”