I didn’t think that Saturday’s exhibition was the easiest game to evaluate for a couple of reasons.
First off, you don’t know how Drake Caggiula scary, potential injury affected some of the players. Rocco Grimaldi said he felt he had great jump until that happened. After that, he had a tough time keeping his head in the game.
UND also controlled the play so convincingly for large stretches of the game. UND outshot the Under-18 team 17-2 in the second period. The Americans went at least 10 minutes without a shot in the second and third periods.
There were some good signs though. Brendan O’Donnell continued to play with confidence and continues to produce. He had a goal and an assist. UND coach Dave Hakstol said that there were spots open at left wing to start the season and O’Donnell is earning one of those spots right now.
Another good sign was that Zane Gothberg bounced back from his tough outing in Oxford by stopping all eight shots he faced.
Perhaps nobody helped himself earn ice time more than Coltyn Sanderson. He looked pretty comfortable out there and made several nice plays to create scoring chances. You could see how excited his teammates were for him to get an empty-netter at the end of the game, too. I don’t know that he will be in the lineup Friday against St. Cloud State, but the exhibition was a step in the right direction.
UND’s third goalie, Matt Hrynkiw, dressed for the first time this season. He’s just starting to get back in the swing of things after having his appendix removed. He’s not expected to play much this season, but could develop into a strong goaltender in the future.
The U18s were even harder to evaluate because they were bottled up for so much of the game, so I was glad I went to watch them play in Fargo the night before.
It appears like Sonny Milano (Notre Dame) and Jack Eichel (BU) are their top two forwards, but UND recruit Shane Gersich isn’t far behind. Gersich doesn’t get time on the power play, but is on the penalty kill. He skates well and isn’t afraid to play physical.
Gersich got a nice hand from the fans as he was introduce during pregame warmups.
Next up for UND is a St. Cloud State team that’s still unbeaten. The Huskies swept Colgate over the weekend.