Hickey enjoying a Wild ride

It would be difficult to dream up a sporting year better than the one Cretin-Derham Hall's Chris Hickey has enjoyed. As if playing in four state championship games, and winning two of them, was not enough, Hickey was chosen in the NHL's Entry Draft Saturday — by his hometown team.

Being selected in last weekend's NHL Entry Draft was just the latest sweet event in a phenomenal year for Chris Hickey, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound multi-sport star who has verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin hockey program.

Hickey, a center, was chosen in the seventh round of Saturday's NHL Draft (No. 192 overall) by the hometown Minnesota Wild.

"Growing up in Minnesota and being drafted by the Minnesota Wild… you can't dream about stuff like this," Hickey said in a telephone interview Monday night. "It's pretty unbelievable."

He does not turn 18 until Sept. 2 and was old enough to be draft-eligible by just 13 days. Yet here he is, an NHL draft pick just weeks after finishing his junior year at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn.

"It doesn't happen all that often so I'm just going to have to enjoy it and just keep working real hard and try and get it done," Hickey said.

Hickey said he was not particularly surprised that he was drafted.

"I'd been talking to some teams and it was kind of iffy," he said. "It was like ‘there's a good chance you are going to get drafted and be ready for it,' but there is also a chance that I might (not). But I was expecting something like this… just from what they've been telling me."

He had a brief conversation with the Wild after he was selected.

"They just said, ‘Congratulations, you've been drafted and welcome to the organization and pretty much we will talk to you further down the line and we want to invite you to the rookie camp this summer,'" Hickey said.

The past 12 months have been quite a treat for Hickey, in all of his athletic pursuits. His summer baseball team won a state championship last year and his Cretin-Derham teams placed second in football, first in hockey and second in baseball in their respective state championships. Hickey was a starting running back on the football team, centerfielder on the baseball team and the leading scorer on the hockey team for the third straight year; he contributed 37 goals and 26 assists in 31 games as a junior.

"Then to get a scholarship to Wisconsin and get drafted," said Hickey, who verbally committed to the Badgers in April, "it has been one heck of a year."

Hickey still is not sure whether he will enroll at UW with the 2007-08 class or in 2008-09. He was recruited as a 2008-09 prospect, but he could make the jump straight from high school depending UW's needs at forward.

If he proves to be a 2008-09 recruit, Hickey will play one year in the Tier 1 junior United States Hockey League prior to becoming a Badger. This spring he was drafted in the 14th round of the USHL Entry Draft (No. 116 overall) by the Tri-City Storm. Since Hickey plans to play for his high school hockey team in his senior year, Tri-City will most likely have to forfeit his rights prior to the 2007 USHL Entry Draft. The NHL's Wild, however, will retain Hickey's rights until he completes his college eligibility at UW, which could be six years from now.

"I know Waterloo was going to draft me in the first round if I told them I wanted to play next year," Hickey said of the USHL Draft, in a telephone interview in May. "I told all of (the USHL teams) that I was going to go back to high school, I was going to finish and I wanted to graduate with my friends… So I told them that if they want to draft me I can play the front and the back half of the season and see how that works, and see if you're okay with that. Otherwise, don't draft me."

Monday, Hickey said he plans to play baseball for Cretin-Derham again next spring, but he is undecided regarding his senior year of football.

"I think I'll probably play baseball for sure," Hickey said. "Football is a question mark."

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