Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Even growing in White Bear Lake, Minn., close to the University of Minnesota, Charlie Sampair always knew he wanted to be a Bulldog.
"I've always loved Duluth," Sampair said. "Ever since we came here for youth hockey tournaments, it was my favorite town to be in."
He later combined that love of Duluth, Minn. with a fast track to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), joining the team last season directly of high school as a true freshman.
"You look at him, he's 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, and he can skate," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "Physically, he was ready for this level. I think the biggest part of it is mentally. It's a huge step from high school hockey."
"Last year, it took a lot of getting used to," Sampair said. "Even at the end of the year I don't think I was fully there, up to speed and up to level. This year I feel more confidence. I'm confident with the puck. I'm confident going to to the net. I'm confident with my line mates."
Those line mates have largely been Cal Decowski and Sammy Spurrell, creating a trio that UMD has come to rely on this winter.
"He's been a big part of that line, and that line has been great for us," Sandelin said. "They've given us some great minutes. They certainly aren't a fourth line. I know it says that on paper, but recently they've probably been our most consistent line."
It's consistency that was worth waiting for for both UMD and Sampair alike.
"I probably thought about it every day, whether I made the right decision," Samair said. "Now that I look back, I wanted to play at a good program and I'm here now, so I want to make the most of it."