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Hockey: McLaughlin staying in USHL

Less than a week after telling the News Tribune he was returning for his senior season at Grand Rapids, Blake McLaughlin had a change of heart. The star forward announced Monday — the first day of practice for high school teams in Minnesota — he was remaining with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League.

McLaughlin's decision is another blow to the defending Class AA state champion Thunderhawks, who already had a pair of Division I commits leave early. Forward Gavin Hain (North Dakota) opted to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program's Under-18 squad this winter, while goalie Zach Stejskal (Minnesota Duluth) is with the USHL's Central Illinois Flying Aces.

McLaughlin, the future Minnesota Gopher who is likely to be selected in the first three or four rounds of next June's NHL Entry Draft, had said in July he was coming back. And he reaffirmed that position last week.

"You can never get back your senior year," he told the News Tribune.

McLaughlin had 22 goals and 38 assists last season as Grand Rapids won its first state title since 1980.

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