HOUGHTON - College recruiting is a strange beast.
You never know what will make the difference.
Take incoming Michigan Tech hockey forward Evan Anderson, for instance. The towering center from Colorado said he was persuaded to join the Huskies after coach Mel Pearson demonstrated his commitment to competition - through scheduling.
With national powers like Michigan and Notre Dame, plus former WCHA heavyweights in Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin on the non-conference docket, Anderson said he knew Pearson and the Huskies were for him as they routinely took on the best teams in the country.
So Tech gets a center who netted 52 points in 46 games last season (21 goals, 31 assists) for the British Columbia Hockey League Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Anderson gets a chance to test himself against the NCAA's best.
"One of my concerns when the WCHA reshuffled was the schedule, but they have one of the top non-conference schedule's out there. Coach Pearson wants the best, and that is how you become the best," Anderson said.
Anderson's signing has paid off before he even set skate to the SDC rink.
Committed to Tech for several years now, Anderson played on the same team as Shane Hanna two seasons ago in the BCHL.
So when Pearson and the Huskies came after Hanna hard, Anderson was ideally positioned to nudge him in the Houghton direction.
As a freshman last season, Hanna led all WCHA defensemen in scoring with 23 points (four goals, 19 assists), and served as the catalyst to the Husky power play the second half of the season.
"I was pushing him pretty hard to look at Tech," Anderson said of Hanna. "I know Mel was pretty excited when he committed, and look at the success he had last season."
With much of the top talent in the BCHL coming Tech's way in recent years - including Alex Petan, and incoming recruits Dane Birks and Anderson's linemate at Salmon Arm, Alex Gillies - Anderson said Tech has gained a reputation as a school positioned to get you what you want in your professional life.
Want a good education and bankable degree? Check.
Want to continue hockey at the next level? Seven current players attended NHL development camps this summer, while recent Huskies Brett Olson, Jujhar Khaira and Pheonix Copley have all signed NHL contracts.
As Anderson rates the NHL as his No. 1 goal, he believes the Huskies are suited to help him get there.
"It's a program on the rise," Anderson said. "Getting to those development camps is huge. I'm really impressed with the guys they have already brought in."
If Anderson, wants the NHL, he certainly has the size to get there.
Measuring at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Anderson likes to throw his weight around from the center position, collecting the puck in the defensive zone and bulldozing his way up ice.
Blake Pietila found great success in the second half of last season in that role, and Anderson's 6-foot-3 frame would go well in front of the net on the power play, giving Tech another option after Reid Sturos proved a revelation in that position last season.
"I think, not only do I have good size, but I have good speed for my size," Anderson said. "And I know they want size up the middle playing in the center position, so we matchup well.
"I think it is huge for the center playing the whole 200 feet; you need to be in both zones."
Anderson said he is working on his explosiveness this off-season, trying to anticipate the jump in quickness going from juniors to the college game.
"I'm working on my first few steps, being a bigger guy," Anderson said. "Just getting out quickly will help my game with my size."