The Texas Tornado, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Taylor Herndon has made a commitment to play Division-I hockey at Minnesota State University, Mankato beginning in 2012-13.
"I've been working as long as I can remember to play D-I hockey," Herndon said. "When the offer came about to play at Minnesota State, I jumped at the opportunity."
"We're certainly proud of Taylor," Tornado head coach and general manager Tony Curtale said. "He's a good player with a lot of upside, and he's going to a program that we know very well."
Herndon's three-year NAHL career began with the Wichita Falls Wildcats in 2009-10, where the Oklahoma City, Okla. native scored 5 goals and 1 assist in 24 games. Following that season, he joined the Tornado for the next two years, and really improved his all-around game.
"It really shows our commitment to the Southern hockey player, especially those from Texas and Oklahoma," Curtale said. "Two years ago, we picked him up off another team's roster. Now he's a scholarship athlete at a Division-I program."
After a 23-point season in 2010-11, Herndon began his final junior season red-hot before a wrist injury sidelined him for two months. At the time of his injury, he was leading the team in goals with 11, and had 10 points in his previous four games.
"After I got hurt, I was worried about what would happen with my future," Herndon said. "But I worked hard to get back on the ice and I'm happy it paid off."
He came back in early January and finished the season with 20 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. His return to the ice allowed him to take part in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, where he was one of five Tornado players in Troy, Mich. for the event. Herndon shined in the three-day tournament and tied for the lead in goals (3) and points (5). "Top Prospects was a great experience for me," Herndon said. "The competition was great and I got to play with a bunch of other guys who also went D-I. It also helped that I played pretty well, too," he added with a laugh.
Herndon, who served as assistant captain after the trade of defenseman Tyler Rostenkowski in January, now joins Jack Prince as the two players from the 2012 Robertson Cup champions to make Division-I commitments. He is quick to credit both his coach and his former teammates to help advance his hockey career.
"I learned so much from Tony over the past two seasons," Herndon said. "He was always pushing me to play my hardest and I got a lot out of my time with the Tornado. I also couldn't have made this commitment without everyone else on the team, either. I'm excited to take the next step and begin playing with Minnesota State."
Herndon will be making that jump with Minnesota State, members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, this upcoming season. Over 70 former Mavericks have gone on to professional hockey careers, including current NHLers David Backes and Ryan Carter.