TOM MILLER: LaDue a quiet rock for UND
UND freshman defender Paul LaDue didn’t register any points Friday in North Dakota’s 3-2 win over Miami at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Although offensively gifted, LaDue’s importance extends beyond the simple box score.
His greatest value is in his reliability.
In the closing minutes against the RedHawks, UND coach Dave Hakstol put his best combination on the ice.
It includes the rookie from Grand Forks — the only freshman asked to protect an important one-goal lead.
Hakstol said UND isn’t gaining more and more trust in LaDue. He said they’ve been confident in him all season.
“We’ve relied on Paul throughout the season,” Hakstol said. “We have good confidence in him back there.”
LaDue, at 6-foot-2 and 194 pounds, continues to make all the heady passes and cover his assignments.
“Right away, it took a bit to get my confidence up,” LaDue said. “But all the guys have helped me along, and I work with Bubs (assistant coach Brad Berry) twice a week in the mornings. That’s really helping me.”
A former Grand Forks Central standout, LaDue was known for his offensive gifts in his time leading up to UND.
He set the franchise scoring record for defensemen with 83 points (21 goals, 62 assists) and was a plus-63 in 118 career games with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL.
He was named the defenseman of the year in 2012-13 after leading the league’s defensemen in points (49) and assists (37) in 62 games.
With those flashy stats, LaDue’s solid baseline play might have been underestimated.
“He has outstanding hockey sense,” Hakstol said. “Those are things you don’t teach. He also has excellent competitiveness. Those are two things that it takes to play good defense. He’s done a good job for us.”