Life is tough for a freshman in college. Not just getting adjusted to living away from home, but learning to do your own laundry, Greek life becoming a thing, learning that ice cream is a good breakfast option and so on. But for a freshman college athlete, it’s all about earning your spot and being able to keep it. Just ask UND defenseman Andrew Peski about his freshman season last year.
“Coming to the NCAA is a big jump,” Peski told me during the UND Media Day. “You’re playing against full grown men and it took a little time to get used to the speed and strength that comes with it. But my teammates were there for me a lot. They told me to keep working and keep getting better, which helped a whole lot.
It showed in Peski’s performance. In and out of the line-up for the first half of the season, Peski became a regular in the line-up after the calendar turned to 2017. It also helped Peski as he was paired up with captain Gage Ausmus in that time to help him learn more about the college game.
Peski also played a big role in UND’s regional game last year, the two overtime thriller in Fargo that saw Boston University beat UND after many controversial calls on both sides of the puck, including an almost 15-minute offsides review that nullified the possible UND game-winning goal.
“That game is always in the back of our head,” said Peski. “I’ve watched the game a few times, but it’s a new year and a new us– we’re moving on. We want to get back to get back to that tournament and have a better outcome, especially since it’s in Sioux Falls (South Dakota) this year and we’ll have plenty of support.”
This year, UND will be without Ausmus, who graduated and is playing in the ECHL, while other top-defenseman statistically in Tucker Poolman left school early to sign his NHL contract. Peski is going to be given a bigger role on this team and knows that he’ll have to compete with the depth on this year’s team.
“I’m really excited to take on any roles I earn,” mentioned Peski. “And that’s it, right?? You get what you deserve. Our freshman class is very talented and we all want them to step in and get antiquated with the team.”
This summer also provided Peski the experience of an NHL developmental camp, as the Ottawa Senators brought Peski in as a free agent prospect to get a look at what he could do. The Orleans, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa) native looked back at the experience with a new look on the pro game.
“Ottawa camp was an eye-opener for sure,” Peski said of his first camp. “It was an interesting kind of the atmosphere. There were a lot of similarities to what we get here at North Dakota, so I was very prepared for it. It was a great time and I learned a lot. It definitely helped with Christain Wolanin being there, as well as some Ottawa guys that I interacted with when I was younger.”
Peski also stated that the line for everyone across the board was to jump on things early and often.
“We don’t wait and get comfortable. We’re telling everyone, especially the new guys to do your best and make the right plays and it’ll come to you.”