The Portland Winterhawks have signed Paul Bittner, a ninth grader who played this season for Crookston High School in Minnesota.
Bittner, a 15-year-old 6’5”, 185-pound forward, was one of just two ninth graders playing on Crookston High School’s varsity team this season. He led the team with 15 goals, and added four assists for 19 points in 20 games, ranking fourth on the team in scoring.
He also recently took part in the United States National Team Development Program’s U-17 evaluation camp, which featured 53 of the country’s top players born in 1996.
“Paul already has great size to go along with tremendous skill. Very few 15-year-olds can excel in varsity hockey in Minnesota,” said Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston. “We’re excited he chose to sign with us, and he joins a talented pool of young players who will be a big part of our future.”
Bittner is the Winterhawks’ second high-profile signing from Minnesota in recent weeks, after inking fellow ninth grader Keegan Iverson on March 18. Iverson played in that day’s regular season finale and played in one game of the first round playoff series against the Kelowna Rockets.
Bittner’s signing continues the Hawks’ recent success of attracting talented American players. Along with Iverson, in the last year the team has also signed Dominic Turgeon (Colorado) and Alex Schoenborn (North Dakota), along with last year’s signings of Brendan Burke (Arizona) and Chase De Leo (California), who are playing for the Winterhawks this season as 16-year-olds.