FSU’s Garrett Thompson signs with NHL’s Ottawa Senators

Bulldog standout signs one-year, entry-level contract with the Senators

BIG RAPIDS — On Saturday, Ferris State senior forward Garrett Thompson played his last collegiate hockey game with a 2-1 double-overtime loss by the Bulldogs to North Dakota in the NCAA Division I Tournament Midwest Regional Final at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

CONTROL: Ferris State senior forward Garrett Thompson (16) moves the puck down the ice during college hockey action earlier this season. On Tuesday, Thompson signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators. (Pioneer file photo)

CONTROL: Ferris State senior forward Garrett Thompson (16) moves the puck down the ice during college hockey action earlier this season. On Tuesday, Thompson signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators. (Pioneer file photo)

But come Tuesday, Thompson was on a flight to Ottawa, Ontario, to sign his first professional contract after the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, signed Thompson to a one-year, two-way entry-level contract. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The way you end your college career with a loss in the regional finals, it’s a huge upset, I guess you would say,” Thompson said prior to flying out to Ottawa on Tuesday. “To turn around a few days later and get this kind of news, it’s surreal. It’s definitely a 180 on the scale of what to expect.”

The 6-2, 191-pound senior led the Bulldogs with a team-high 16 goals and 16 assists to score a team-high tying 32 points in his final season.

His play this season earned Thompson a spot on the All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) second team in a season where he helped FSU bring home the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular-season champions in the Bulldogs’ first season competing in the WCHA.

Heading into his final year at FSU, Thompson said while he knew he had a good chance at moving on to the professional ranks, with Thompson having participated in the summer prospect camp held by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks last summer, it really didn’t hit him until the end of the season that he’d be playing for an NHL club once his senior season came to a close.

“Over the years, I’ve had a few camps I’ve went to that I’ve learned a lot from and had a lot of experience with,” he said. “But it’s not until toward the end of this season that you start to realize that you’re going to be playing professional hockey and the college days are over.

“When you come to the realization that your college career is over and you have to decide, it’s tough, but it’s really exciting at the same time,” he added.

In four years with the Bulldogs, Thompson piled up 87 points on 42 goals and 45 assists in 139 games. Prior to that, Thompson, a Traverse City native, spent three season playing in his hometown with the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Traverse City North Stars, recording 40 goals and assists apiece in 121 games with the North Stars.

For four years at FSU, Thompson was part of a senior class, including Cory Kane, Andy Huff, Scott Czarnowczan and Justin DeMartino, that recorded the most victories of any four-year class in program history with 89 victories.

While he has plenty of memories from his time as a Bulldog, Thompson highlighted the 2011-12 run to the Bulldogs’ first Frozen Four berth and a spot in the national championship game versus Boston College in his sophomore season as one of the key memories he’ll take away from his time wearing a FSU sweater.

“The senior class we had that year that lead us to the Frozen Four and the national championship game was tremendous,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better in a year.”

In a week where former Bulldogs Chad Billins and Zach Redmond were called up to the NHL’s Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets, respectively, Thompson said he’s excited to test himself and represent FSU at the next level.

“I’ve learned a lot and I think I’ve developed a lot as a player and as a person,” Thompson said of his time at FSU. “I think that everything I’ve went through here with the coaching staff and teachers and even the guys (on the team), I’ve learned a lot about myself and just how to carry myself.”

Although he’s excited for the next step in his hockey career, Thompson said his time playing at Ewigleben Ice Arena and being a part of the FSU family will always be special to him.

“Just walking into the locker room everyday and strapping on the pads is something I’m going to miss the most,” he said. “Playing in front of the Dawg Pound and all of the community here, I’ve met so many people throughout the years and everyone I have met, I felt that if they haven’t touched my life, I’ve touched theirs.

“That’s something special that you’re always going to hold on to,” he added.

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