After each game, UND sports info director Jayson Hajdu asks me which guys I’d like to interview and he rounds them up. Players come out one by one, usually in intervals of about two to five minutes, to chat.
That wasn’t the case Friday night.
I requested the freshman line after they had another strong game and within a minute, they all walked down the narrow hallway at Sullivan Arena together. As I interviewed each of them one-by-one, the others were horsing around a little bit, joking with each other, and I couldn’t help but think back to how much these guys remind me of the senior class that graduated last year, and how those guys were as rookies.
By the end of the first semester in 2007, you could tell that Evan Trupp, Matt Frattin, Brad Malone and company were attached at the hip, and, as someone once said, “spoke their own language.”
Those guys were goofy, laid back, easy going and liked to joke around with each other. On the ice, you could see the bits and pieces of their skills, but they weren’t dominant players. Malone only had 3 points as a rookie, Frattin only had 4 goals and Trupp had 13 points.
None of them were drafted in the top three rounds, but all put big-time efforts into improving their games. Malone’s point total went from 3 (freshman) to 17 (sophomore) to 25 (junior) to 40 (senior). Trupp’s point total went from 13 to 20 to 24 to 41. Frattin’s went from 15 to 25 to 19 (in half of a season) to 60. They were inconsistent as rookies and remarkably consistent as seniors.
On the ice, there was instant chemistry between the classmates. And by the time they were seniors, they formed the best and most complete line in college hockey.
Now, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan are far from the Pony Express line, but if you think back to 2007, they aren’t so different.
Their personalities are somewhat similar. Their skillsets are there. The chemistry is there (their line may be jumbled from time to time, but don’t be surprised if they come back to it). Now, it will be interesting to sit back and watch their development here, not only through their college careers, but through this season.
If UND’s lucky, maybe these guys can follow the path laid out for them by their predecessors.