Things didn’t go well at the start of last season for Brendan O’Donnell.
He was injured two different times and had to sit out seven games. When he was in the lineup before, between and after the injuries, he went through a stretch where he posted 1 point in a 12-game span. It was likely a result of his injuries.
But down the stretch, O’Donnell quietly had a pretty good finish to the season. He had 13 points in the final 20 games, despite never getting back to 100 percent.
O’Donnell didn’t generate a lot of buzz for it, but he was a factor in many of UND’s biggest plays of the stretch run.
In the win-or-go-home Game 3 against Colorado, O’Donnell scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 victory, converting a great feed from Rocco Grimaldi.
In the win-or-go-home Frozen Faceoff game against Western Michigan, O’Donnell had two assists in UND’s 5-0 win.
In the NCAA win against Wisconsin, it was O’Donnell’s point shot that deflected off of linemate Mark MacMillan for the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining. O’Donnell made a nice play to spot traffic in front and launch a shot to a dangerous area.
And during Connor Gaarder’s Frozen Four-clinching goal against Ferris State, it was O’Donnell who put the puck in the zone, forced the Bulldog captain to lose it in the corner and won a board battle, getting the puck back to the point.
Although none of the plays were spectacular, O’Donnell was a factor in several huge plays that allowed UND to make the run.
Now, there are more encouraging signs.
By all accounts, O’Donnell was fantastic at the Tampa Bay Lightning development camp last week. O’Donnell led Tampa Bay’s two-day, three-on-three tournament with eight goals.
The Tampa Bay Times wrote about his performance in this story. It quotes Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest as saying that O’Donnell had “more confidence, a stronger skater, looked a little quicker.”
The Lightning posted this photo on Twitter:
This season, UND is going to need an offense-by-committee approach once again. A healthy, confident O’Donnell could give the team a huge boost.