So how in the world does a hockey player from Chesterfield, Mo., wind up at Minnesota?

Left wing Sam Warning, who committed to the Gophers on Monday, actually has quite a few contacts in the Gopher State.

Warning played on a team coached by Gophers assistant coach Grant Potulny at the boys' Select 17 development camp in Rochester, N.Y., from July 7-13.

Twenty-one players from that camp, including Warning, were picked to play on the U.S. under-18 team in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in Slovakia from Aug. 11-15.

Three of Warning's U.S. teammates were Gopher recruits, forwards Nick Bjugstad of Blaine and Christian Isackson of St. Thomas Academy and defenseman Ben Marshall of Mahtomedi.

Warning was the top scorer on the U.S. team with two goals and two assists in three games. He was a plus-four. The team went 2-2 and finished fourth out of eight teams.

Dave Warning, Sam's father, said his son got along well with Potulny, those recruits and the other Gopher coaches, including Don Lucia.

The Warnings had made unoffical visits this past summer to New Hampshire, Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell and Northeastern. In late August after Sam returned from Slovakia, the Warnings made an unofficial visit to the U.

Sam Warning, who is 5-8, 173, picked the Gophers over New Hampshire. "He liked the idea of playing in the WCHA," his father said.

This season Warning, a high school junior who turned 17 last month, is playing in the USHL for Cedar Rapids this season for the first time. Warning has two goals and two assists in seven games so far. He will probably play for the RoughRiders as a senior, too.

Last season he had 20 goals and 21 assists for Christian Brothers College High School, which won the Missouri state hockey title. He also played for the St. Louis Junior Blues, a AAA  program.

Sam Warning started playing hockey at age 4 with his older brother and other older boys in the neighborhood in Chesterfield, Mo., which is just west of St. Louis. They would play roller hockey on the street.

Later when his buddies started playing organized hockey at the community rink, built in 1993, so did he. Dave Warning said Chesterfield has a strong hockey program because many of the former St. Louis Blues players stayed in the area after their NHL careers.

Among the coaches in the youth program were former Blues players such as Al MacInnis, Rob Ramage and Basil McRae.

Those teams also traveled a lot to find good competition, Dave Warning, also heading north. Minnesota, the Chicago area and Canada were common destinations.

Sam Warning was a multi-sport athlete, competing in soccer and baseball, until focusing on hockey in recent years.

Got to wonder if coach Lucia is changing his recruiting philosophy a bit? Jacob Cepis, a player from Ohio, will be eligibile to play for the U at midseason and last season he had Grant Scott from Pennsylvania. Those are not three states the Gophers usually look at for players.