October 9, 2012 by Casey Hart
How desperate am I for college hockey? I just watched North Dakota’s exhibition against Manitoba (the university, not the province) on DVR. Here are a few quick thoughts, in chronological order, on the 5-3 UND win:
• The local UND broadcast features an opening music video, in the spirit—if not the celebrity appeal—of Monday Night Football.
• I didn’t see a line chart, but judging by who started the game, freshman Jordan Schmaltz began on North Dakota’s top defensive pair, alongside Derek Forbort. Schmaltz was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in June and joined a team that returns five defensive regulars. He skated on the second UND power-play unit.
• Rocco Grimaldi was good and could have scored multiple goals. He sniped a shot off the crossbar on an early power play and undressed a defenseman later in the period, but Joe Caligiuri turned him away with a pad save. After an extra year of hype, the tiny forward looks like he might have been worth the wait.
• Danny Kristo and Corban Knight looked very good together. (Also, the sun rose in the east.) Kristo scored a highlight-reel goal and assisted on a goal by Knight, who went 18-6 on faceoffs.
• Derek Rodwell slewfooted a Manitoba player behind the play in the second period. Not cool.
• The jury is still out on the new UND goaltenders. Alabama-Huntsville transfer Clarke Sanders was hardly tested beyond the one goal he allowed on a slap shot following a UND turnover at the defensive blue line. Freshman Zane Gothberg made several impressive stops in the second half of the game. Each of the two goals he allowed, however, was set up by his misplays (first when he came out too far on a long shot and had a bounce off the board hit his skate and later when he had the puck taken away behind his net).
• Michael Parks, who registered 12-10-22 totals as a freshman last year, went down with what looked like it could have been a nasty knee injury. Here’s hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
• North Dakota outshot Manitoba 28-20 and would have scored more if not for some outstanding stops by the UM netminders, but this was a one-goal game for six minutes in the third period until Forbort rocketed a deflected one-timer off a Carter Rowney faceoff win in the final three minutes. It’s nothing for UND fans to worry about, though; several other NCAA teams fared worse in their first exhibitions.