Fasching returns to finish out degree

The forward played in seven games in the NHL following his junior season.

Gophers forward Hudson Fasching fights to maintain control of the puck against Penn State in Mariucci Arena on Feb. 6.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Hudson Fasching fights to maintain control of the puck against Penn State in Mariucci Arena on Feb. 6.

Mike Hendrickson

Hudson Fasching had a good reason to miss three weeks of school.
 
 
The Gophers forward turned professional two days after his junior season ended and joined the Buffalo Sabres. He temporarily missed classes while playing seven games in the NHL, but he stayed on track to graduate early from the Carlson School of Management.
 
 
Fasching said he spent nights before games reviewing PowerPoint presentations and writing one-page case studies on different businesses in his hotel room.
 
 
“That was really difficult, especially [since] we were on the road for five days, and I’ve got to write a paper,” Fasching said. “There’s a lot of different things going on so … at that point, it was focus on this, focus on [that].”
 
 
He came back to campus one NHL goal and assist later to finish his degree by May.
 
 
Senior lecturer Julia Van Etten, Fasching’s marketing research professor, has dealt with situations like Fasching’s before.
 
 
Adam Wilcox was in her class when he left the Gophers to turn professional last year, and she’s also taught men’s hockey players Kyle Rau, Justin Holl, Connor Reilly and Ryan Reilly.
 
 
“Hudson was very quiet … very polite, always in class. Occasionally, he will contribute, and he’s always spot on,” Van Etten said. “He could just say, ‘To hell with it,’ right? I was impressed with Adam a year ago, and I’m equally impressed with Hudson and their willingness to make sure that they get their degrees.”
 
 
Fasching will be completing his degree in entrepreneurial management a year early, a feat accomplished by taking heavier summer course loads.
 
 
“It’s crazy,” Fasching said. “The summer after my junior year of high school was the last time I didn’t have any school for more than a month.”
 
 
The early graduation was a part of a three-year plan Fasching hatched with head coach Don Lucia before he came to Minnesota in 2013. Fasching was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, and he talked with Lucia after every season about where he was in his hockey development.
 
 
“When you deal with high-end prospects, you want to make sure they’re in a position to get their degree,” Lucia said. “Hudson did the work. He did the work on the ice, in practice and in the classroom.”
 
 
Fasching progressed well from his sophomore to junior season, improving his goal total from 12 to 20. The Sabres’ front office took notice and told him they would be waiting for him after his 2015-16 season was over. On March 21 he signed an entry-level deal with the Sabres.
 
 
The Gophers had planned for the move, Lucia said, and Fasching’s ability to jump straight from the NCAA to the NHL and graduate in three years was a testament to his work ethic.
 
 
“When he stepped on the ice, he worked,” Lucia said. “That’s why he’s in the position to graduate in three years [after he] already played in the NHL this spring.”
 
 
Fasching played his first game for the Sabres on March 26 and scored his first goal on his first shot. He tallied his only other point with an assist on April 9 and averaged 11 minutes and 31 seconds of ice time in his seven games.
 
 
“I still feel like even being back [at Minnesota] and talking about it feels like a dream,” Fasching said. “I feel like I’m going to wake uptomorrow and I’m going to be like, ‘Oh, the season ended, and I’m in spring workouts with the team.’ It’s still surreal to me a little bit.”
 
 
He got back to the Twin Cities a few days after the Sabres’ season ended on April 9, and he took an astronomy midterm the same day.
 
 
Besides astronomy and marketing research, Fasching is also taking a course on new business feasibility and planning, plus an online class to round out his final semester.
 
 
Van Etten said marketing research isn’t always the most exciting topic to NHL-bound hockey players but that team members have seemed committed to the subject over the years.
 
 
Fasching said he doesn’t know what his life after the NHL will be like but that his soon-to-be degree will provide some guidance in the future.
 
 
“At the beginning of class, they always make you do the thing, ‘Well why did you choose the major, what are you trying to go into?’” Fasching said. “Most kids are using their major as their next job. For me, it’s a little different.”