Marto’s flexibility invaluable to Sioux hockey teamHakstol says senior is as versatile a player as he’s seen at UND
It isn’t just that the UND men’s hockey team has asked senior Grand Forks native Jake Marto to rotate between defenseman and forward on a week-to-week or a game-to-game basis. No, what’s been truly special is Marto’s ability and willingness to alternate within a game.
By: Tom Miller, Grand Forks Herald
It isn’t just that the UND men’s hockey team has asked senior Jake Marto to rotate between defenseman and forward on a week-to-week or a game-to-game basis.
No, what’s been truly special is Marto’s ability and willingness to alternate within a game.
“That’s something that is invaluable,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s as versatile of a player as I’ve ever seen here.”
Marto’s expected to play back at his natural defensive position when the now-healthy Sioux play Michigan on Thursday night at the Frozen Four in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. But the Grand Forks native’s versatility and consistency have been crucial in propelling the Sioux to their fifth Frozen Four in seven years.
Late in the year when injuries hit forwards Jason Gregoire, Carter Rowney, Danny Kristo and Derek Rodwell, the Sioux turned to Marto, who claims he hadn’t played forward since PeeWee A youth hockey, to solidify the team’s second line.
In those games, there were times when the Sioux would ask Marto to shift back to the blue line in the third period to preserve a lead.
“Skill, ability and talents allow (Marto) to do that,” Hakstol said. “His willingness and mentality to do it — to do whatever the team needs on that particular night — is what makes him a true leader.”
The Sioux and Marto haven’t skipped a beat amid the position uncertainty. Marto has eight goals and 11 assists this year as UND hasn’t lost since Jan. 28 against Colorado College.
Although it’s Marto’s skills that make the switching a possibility, Hakstol said it’s his attitude that has made it all click.
“The first thing about Jake is his personality and the demeanor he brings,” Hakstol said. “He’s such a competitor yet he’s loose and having fun. He has a smile on his face at some of the most critical times. That’s something special.”
Marto has maintained a team-first approach.
“It’s kind of a different situation when you’re playing defense all practice and you find out the next day that you’re going to be at forward,” Marto said. “But like I’ve said before, I’ll do whatever to help the team as long as we get the ‘W’ and keep moving on. When that happens, I’m happy, the team’s happy. Wherever they decide to put me, I’ll be happy to be out there playing.
“I take it day by day and just see where I’m at. I was at forward a couple of weeks in a row and started to feel fine there. My home is back at D, and I’m a lot more comfortable there. But I still feel comfortable at forward. I can handle a lot of situations.”
Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to email@example.com.