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Bemidji State is giving Moorhead’s Carter Randklev a chance to play closer to home

Bemidji State is giving Moorhead’s Carter Randklev a chance to play closer to home

Bemidji State is giving Moorhead’s Carter Randklev a chance to play closer to home

Carter Randklev thought he had it all figured out.

The 2018 Moorhead High School graduate and Mr. Hockey finalist stayed close to home to play junior hockey with the Fargo Force. He planned to play two seasons in the USHL before going to North Dakota, his dream hockey school.

Randklev grew up about an hour away from Grand Forks, ND, and was offered by the Fighting Hawks in December 2017 after uncommitting from Arizona State in high school.

Everything was going according to plan – until it wasn’t.

On December 1, 2018, Randklev tore his left anterior cruciate ligament, ending his first USHL season.

“Everything was going in the right direction,” Randklev recalled. “There are many things in life that set you back a bit or change your path. Accidents are a big thing in sports. Sometimes it sets players back and takes them a little longer to get back on track. Unfortunately for me, tearing my ACL and being a smaller person, it was a pretty big injury for me.”

Ranklev’s stroke of bad luck did more harm than put him on the shelf for 10 months. The 5-foot-8 forward decommitted from UND, forcing him to change his collegiate plans.

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Fargo Force’s Carter Randklev, left, celebrates a goal against Des Moines during their junior hockey game Jan. 18, 2019, at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

File Photo

However, Niagara took a chance on him. And after 13 points in 33 games over his first two years in the Atlantic Hockey America conference, he has become the elite scorer he once thought he was.

Now, Randklev is returning to the state of hockey through the transfer portal. He will play his fifth and final collegiate season at Bemidji State, where he feels he is returning to his roots.

“I wanted to try to test myself and I’m always trying to get better,” Randklev said. “In my eyes, Bemidji is a really good program, so I just wanted to take a step forward and a step up. … My family didn’t get to see me perform much in person (at Niagara). To have the opportunity to come back and only be two, three hours away from home gives them more availability to see me play.”

Randklev admitted he wasn’t the same player after tearing his ACL.

“It’s a challenge to be committed to North Dakota at one time and to have everything that I’ve really wanted in hockey and in life, to be so close to family and to be retired like that, it’s a challenge” , Randklev said. “Next thing I knew I was moving 18 hours away from family play in New York.”

In his first season at Niagara, Randklev struggled to crack the lineup as a deep hitter. He played in just 13 games and recorded three goals and two assists.

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Carter Randklev had 11 goals and 20 assists for Niagara during his senior season before transferring to Bemidji State. Randklev will be in his fifth year in the 2024-25 season with the Beavers.

Courtesy / Niagara Photo Services

His second season saw marginal improvement – six goals and two assists in 22 games.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Niagara coaches for sticking with me even through this injury,” Randklev said. “When I first came back, I wasn’t the same player I used to be. You have to deal with the mental obstacles of not thinking you should be there and not thinking you’re good enough. All these thoughts go through your mind.”

Heading into his junior year — three and a half years removed from his ACL tear — Randklev discovered a change in his mental approach. He thought about hanging up his skates several times. Then he found his confidence.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve really found myself,” Randklev continued. “I found out how I could come back from this injury and get back to the player I once was, or at least somewhat close to it. … I think college hockey is a place where I can be and play. I want to dominate in college hockey and make a difference for a team. I think I’m more determined now than I’ve ever been.”

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Moorhead’s Carter Randklev tries to break up Hill-Murray defensemen Derick Breezee (2) and Kyler Yeo (9) March 9, 2017 during the Minnesota Class 2A boys hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Louis. Paul.

David Samson / The Forum

Randklev became Niagara’s leading scorer. He had 24 goals and 31 assists in his last 75 games with the Purple Eagles.

“There were so many other things and other crafts that I had to hone in on just to be able to play with these types of players,” Randklev said. “I kind of went back to my skill work, shot a lot of pucks and got into scoring zones. I shifted my focus away from the way I was playing hockey my senior year in Fargo and my first two years in Niagara because I realized it wasn’t working for me.”

After Niagara’s 18-18-3 season in 2023-24, Randklev entered the transfer window as a graduate student. He didn’t know what to expect, but he hoped an opportunity would present itself closer to home.

“The process of being in the portal was pretty hectic,” Randklev said. “I really haven’t been there that long. Bemidji State was actually one of the first teams to call me. With that initial conversation, they didn’t make me an offer. … I really had to be patient. But in my heart throughout the whole process, I was really hoping there was a place for me in Bemidji.”

Randklev’s first call came as the Beavers were preparing for the Mason Cup championship game against Michigan Tech. He didn’t receive his offer until the following week after BSU’s season ended.

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Carter Randklev had 11 goals and 20 assists for Niagara during his senior season before transferring to Bemidji State. Randklev will be in his fifth year in the 2024-25 season with the Beavers.

Courtesy / Niagara Photo Services

Bemidji State checked every one of Radklev’s boxes. It’s a place where his family can watch him play more consistently while also providing a step up in the competition. Randklev hopes to be one of the final pieces for a team hoping to return to the NCAA Tournament next spring.

“Playing in my home state and being so close to family, it was really a no-brainer,” Randklev said. “The reputation that Bemidji State has and the coaching staff there, it’s amazing. I’ve always been an outdoorsy kind of guy myself, so it’s really nice to be in a location like that where I can still improve as much as I can hockey-wise.”

Randklev considered turning pro and playing in Europe, an option he is still considering after his fifth season with the Beavers.

No matter where hockey takes him after college, Randklev will forever have a complex relationship with the sport that took everything from him before giving it back.

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Moorhead High graduate Carter Randklev skates the puck for the Niagara Purple Eagles during his sophomore season with the Purple Eagles in 2022.

Courtesy / Niagara Athletics

“I had to learn how to enjoy it and live in the moment, focus on my side of hockey,” Randklev said. “I thought about giving up. I’ve never been one to give up on my dreams and give up on something like hockey. It was my whole life. That’s about all I’ve had and it’s something I’ve always wanted to make a career out of.”

Randklev added that his injury and recovery brought out a love for hockey that he didn’t have before.

“There were so many times in those three years that I thought about giving up, times when I wasn’t putting in much effort,” he paused. I still have in me. So going into Bemidji, I’d say I’m very confident.”