Frozen Four: Morton’s journey to facing his hometown Pioneers in the National Championship

As many college hockey players know, the road to the National Championship game is filled with many twists and turns. For Minnesota State forward Sam Morton, the journey has been one to remember. 

The Mavericks will return to action today as they will play for the National Championship against Sam’s hometown team, Denver. And while Morton claims he didn’t really follow the Pioneers growing up, connections with the opposing players makes this game more special to him.

“I think I might have only gone to one or two games growing up, but obviously they were a talked about program when you grew up in Colorado,” Sam said. “I’ve played against a lot of kids who are on that team right now, so that’s going to be energizing and it’ll be a fun game to be a part of.”

Morton began his hockey career in California, where he grew up playing AA hockey until he was 13 years old. When he was 14, Sam and his family moved to Lafayette, Colo., where he began playing for the Colorado Thunderbirds and Rocky Mountain Roughriders AAA programs. 

After his tenure in Colorado, Morton signed a contract with the British Columbia Hockey League’s (BCHL) Wenatchee Wild. The California native spent two seasons with the Wild before signing his first collegiate contract with Union College in New York. 

Sam spent roughly one and a half seasons with the Dutchmen, tallying 13 pts in 42 games played. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic ended his second season early and he was sent back to the BCHL to finish the remainder of his season.

After his season in the BCHL, Morton entered the transfer portal and decided to come to MSU. “I knew [Lucas] Sowder and [Colby] Bukes and they both had good things to say about the program,” Morton said. “It just seemed like a culture I wanted to be apart of.”

Since his transfer, Morton has tallied 32 pts in 54 games with Minnesota State. And like many other players on the roster, this is his first Frozen Four appearance. 

Despite wanting to relax and be a tourist for a day, Morton remains focused on the job needed to be done.

“I’ve looked out the bus window and walked around our hotel a little bit,” Morton said with a chuckle. “I just want to win and then go from there.”

Of his 23 pts this season, one came in the form of an assist in Thursday’s game against the University of Minnesota. The Mavericks defeated the Gophers 5-1 in front of a sellout crowd at T.D. Garden in Boston.

“This is the first year we’ve had fans at the Frozen Four in a while,” Sam said. “Playing in front of family, friends, and a full building has been really cool.”

Header Photo: Junior forward Sam Morton at Minnesota State’s Friday skate in preparation for today’s National Championship game against the Denver Pioneers. (Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter)

Write to Karson Buelow at karson.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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