Ottawa, North Dakota, and Going Pro

The Ottawa Senators seemingly trust the process that the University of North Dakota has with prospects. They’ve selected three in the NHL Draft that were committed to the school in the past two drafts– Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick, and Shane Pinto. The question is now will they let those players see the process develop for more than half their term there.

A report out of the area had said the Senators were pushing hard to help the OHL’s Ottawa 67s gain the rights to Pinto in order to sign him to an entry-level deal; thus taking the freshman forward out of the UND pipeline. This comes after Pinto had an impressive World Junior tournament with four goals and seven points in five games for the US squad. After Saturday’s game, however, Pinto vehemently denied anything of the sort ever happening; proving the Ottawa media wants to get people to hope that he’d come to speed up the rebuild process.

While there hasn’t been a lot of noise made about Bernard-Docker, you’d have to think that Ottawa would want him to leave school after this season, considering his low-key breakout at the same World Juniors, playing more than any other Canadian during the tournament. Though, there might be a double-standard with bringing a defenseman out early and how much it takes for them to truly adjust to the professional game.

Ottawa is a rebuilding team and while they may like the way that UND is able to produce NHL, they probably also want to really get the players as their blossoming in their career. The Pinto situation seems familiar to the Tyson Jost/Avalanche situation, with Jost leaving after his freshman season at UND, with many saying Colorado was pretty adamant about Jost leaving after one college season. Though, Brock Boeser left after two seasons and did pretty good for himself by doing so, even though injuries have hampered both Jost and Boeser.

I’m all for these players going for the money if they feel it’ll be the most lucrative for them in the long-run. The goal for them is pro hockey and if they can reach it sooner and if the team wants them sooner– more power to them. The only hurdle is to make sure that they are, in fact, ready to make that jump. There’s cases for leaving too early and leaving too late, so it’s really a case-by-case basis.

North Dakota also doesn’t want to be looked at as a one-and-done kind of school and probably while it’s nice for them to have that aura of being a great developmental point for possible NHLers, it’s not the way they would want to be viewed overall if they only have talented youngsters for one or two years before they go off elsewhere and then UND gets behind because a player they thought they could build around for four years is only there half that time.

Sure, it’s the nature of college hockey and could happen with players who aren’t drafted, also; but in those cases– you’re getting three seasons from them and could actually have their replacement ready to go and a plan in place for it. In the day in age where the NHL is a younger players’ game with speed and skill, the college kids will definitely have a harder time wanting to stay if the idea of making a good amount of money without the schooling aspect is at their fingertips.

At the end of the day, each drafted college player is a case-by-case study of what they’re going to do. Some stick the whole four years, some leave after one, and some don’t make it to one year before moving to major junior; you can never know what could happen with each player.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Atone for Last Year, Beat Canisius 5-0

GRAND FORKS, ND– Even with Winter Storm Aubrey in the path, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks knew they had unsettled business from last season. That’s why, on Friday night, they donned their “business suits”– all black everything– to take on Canisius College, the team that helped keep UND out of the NCAA Tournament. Those feelings carried over from last season and helped the Hawks win their first game of the regular season in a convincing fashion, 5-0. 

“A couple weeks ago we talked about it, but the thing is they’re new jerseys,” said coach Brad Berry about the decision to wear the all-black. “They’re Adidas, a new brand. We always wear white at home, so early in the season we’d like to let the fans see the green or the black. Plus, you know, it’s a business mentality. We call them our business suits and we needed a business-like mentality tonight.”

“It was eye-opening,” mentioned Grant Mismash when he saw the black jerseys in the locker room pre-game. “Everyone had the same reaction and it sent a message to their team and our fans that we’re ready to go and we mean business.” 

The Fighting Hawks got out to a quick start, dictating the speed of the play. However, Canisius’ Matt Ladd was equal to the chances. It wasn’t until Jonny Tychonick’s point shot bounced around in front with Harrison Blaisdell getting a chance, but was left in the crease for Shane Pinto to bang home his first collegiate goal. UND kept the pressure on, but Ladd made some solid glove and toe saves to keep it at 1-0 after the first, despite UND leading in shots 14-3. 

Early in the second, UND got an extended power play after Canisius captain Matt Hoover got a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. However, even with sustained pressure for most of the power play, they came up empty thanks to the blocks in front and Ladd coming up with some timely saves. It wasn’t until under five minutes left in the second when a very broken play which saw Jackson Keane throw a shot at net, Jasper Weatherby taking a hack at it, until Dixon Bowen found the back of the net on a wide-open net to make it 2-0. 

It took less than five minutes in the third for UND to add more insurance, as Gabe Bast banked a shot off of Canisius’ Blake Wareham’s skate and made it 3-0. Grant Mismash, who was in a scary crash into the boards earlier in the game, picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and ripped one far-side on Ladd to make it 4-0. Only 53 seconds later, Bowen got his second of the night, as a shot from Jasper Weatherby pinballed to Bowen and squeaked under Ladd’s pads for a 5-0 lead. Ladd gave up the net for Jacob Barczewski. 

THEY SAID IT

“Huge. They’re a team that gets up and go. They stretch the zone and they play extremely hard and are up in your face all the time. You always wonder about the new guys in the line-up and see that level of play and I thought they did a good job. I thought our veterans did a good job of settling in and executing on what we needed to do.” — Brad Berry about the the need for a quick start against Canisius

“I think everyone in the room that we have a job to do in North Dakota. You come here and play in an institution like this, it’s the best one in the country. Guys come in here and say there’s more work to be done and this year everyone’s pulling the rope to get the job done.” — Jasper Weatherby on a more business mentality for the season. 

Dixon Bowen/Photo: Jen Conway

“It’s nice to get rewarded like that. I think our line did a good job battling puck and working low in the zone and getting pucks to the net. There’s a big emphasis to getting the puck to the house– the middle area. This year we’re trying to get everything into the house and we’ll get some luck with that.” — Dixon Bowen on his two-goal night and what UND needs to do offensively this year.