MEN'S HOCKEY: UND junior second in points in league games
When Michael Parks gets the puck behind the net, a lot of his teammates know what’s coming.
More often than not, they are right. It’s a wraparound.
“He likes to do them so much, guys always have a good chuckle when he’s about to do it,” linemate Mark MacMillan said.
But in recent weeks, Parks has been doing a lot more than that.
Quietly, the UND junior has jumped into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s scoring race. With three weeks to go, Parks is second in points in league games with 20 points in 18 contests. He’s just three back of Omaha’s Josh Archibald.
Parks has four consecutive multi-point games and 14 points in 10 games since Christmas break.
“I just see him playing with pace,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Everything he’s doing, he’s doing it with pace. He’s feeling good about his game. He’s practicing well.”
The emergence comes at a time when Parks was placed on a line with MacMillan. Both players battled injuries for a stretch in the first half, but have regained their health and it has showed.
The junior forwards have a combined 27 points in 10 games since January started.
“There’s no question, they’ve been good as of late,” Hakstol said. “I can tell you that having Mark healthy again and having that combination going well has been real important for us in the last month.”
UND enters this weekend’s series at Minnesota Duluth (7:07 Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, AmsOil Arena) with a 12-2-1 mark in its last 15 games. Parks and MacMillan are expected to continue on the same line together with sophomore Drake Caggiula playing on the left wing.
“They’ve got a history of playing well together,” Hakstol said. “They are creating out of speed and a little bit of chemistry. Drake has been a big part of that over the last couple of weekends.”
Parks and MacMillan played together at the end of their rookies seasons as UND made a huge run, leading to the Broadmoor Trophy. That season, Parks and MacMillan combined for 21 points in the last 10 games.
“We’ve played together a lot over our college careers,” MacMillan said. “We’re getting even more comfortable with each other. We’re remembering where we are together and stuff. Confidence is a big thing in the game of hockey. When things are rolling, it’s usually easier to play good hockey.”
And if Parks keeps up his production, he could wind up making a push for a scoring title.
“Mike has a lot of parts to his game that make him a good player,” MacMillan said. “He’s a great skater. He’s a big body. He’s strong. He has the ability to take the puck to the net. What a lot of people don’t know is that he has a great shot when he gets open. So, it’s a combination of things — speed, skill and strength.”
Both of the games against Duluth will be televised.
Friday’s game will be on Fox Sports North Plus. Saturday’s game will be on Midco Sports Network. Tom Hansen will call the game. Judd Medak will provide color.
UND’s Nick Mattson is the defenseman of the week in the NCHC and MacMillan is the offensive player of the week in the league.