MEN'S HOCKEY: Kozek emerges as strong force
There's been a common sight during early mornings in Ralph Engelstad Arena this season. Before class, UND forward Andrew Kozek has been working with assistant coach Dane Jackson to get his shot off faster, because as head coach Dave Hakstol says,...
There's been a common sight during early mornings in Ralph Engelstad Arena this season.
Before class, UND forward Andrew Kozek has been working with assistant coach Dane Jackson to get his shot off faster, because as head coach Dave Hakstol says, "When (Kozek) has time to get the puck away, he's a goalie's nightmare."
Indeed, Kozek has been just that this season. The junior winger has six goals, just one shy of his career high. He's scored goals in five of the six weekends this season and is only one tally behind T.J. Oshie for the team lead.
Last season, Hakstol estimates that three of every four shot attempts by Kozek got blocked, neutralizing his big weapon. So the Sicamous, B.C., native started a project during the summer to work on his release. Now, Hakstol said three of four shots are getting through and the goals are coming.
"He has a shot that not a lot of people at any level possess," Hakstol said. "It's certainly a weapon. One-on-one, a lot of goaltenders will tell you they expect to stop nine of 10 snapshots from the top of the circle. Andrew is a little different. He's got a weapon that's tough to handle.
"You should ask a goaltender how to describe it."
Sure. Jean-Philippe Lamoureux's account?
"Koz definitely has a God-given gift. He has an NHL release right now," UND's starting goalie said. "You have to get an early read when he shoots. Because when he shoots it and hits his spot, I don't care who he's shooting against, it's going in the net."
Kozek said he's worked on his shot extensively since he was young. During high school, he'd go shoot the puck during lunch break. Now, on most days before afternoon practice, he can be seen on the ice with street clothes on, firing his wrist shots rink-wide.
Lamoureux, a senior, said he thinks Kozek's shot may be the hardest he's seen since coming to UND.
"The only other guy I can think of who had as heavy of a shot as Koz is probably Brandon Bochenski," Lamoureux said. "When Bucho hit you in the arms, in the shoulder. . . . anywhere. . . . you felt it. Scott Foyt also had a hard shot. But Koz definitely has one of the hardest shots I've ever seen."
And now that he's getting it off quicker, he's starting to score goals like he did in the British Columbia Hockey League, where he piled up 48 in 60 games.
"It's nice. I definitely have some great linemates who I'm playing with every game," Kozek said. "They are making space for me and giving me the puck."
The other guys
Who are the other Sioux players that make it difficult on goalies? Lamoureux gave his scouting report on what he sees at practice.
Who has the toughest shot to stop?
"I'd say Osh (Oshie), for sure. I've never seen a guy shoot the puck like he does. He has such a deceptive shot and such a good release. He shoots hard and hits his spots. He has one of the most unique shooting styles I've ever seen. In his release, he has a unique knack of being able to roll his wrists at the last second and change the angle of his shot. I'm definitely not the only guy who struggles against him."
Why does Ryan Duncan score so many goals?
"Dunc is placement. He'll be the first to tell you that he doesn't shoot the hardest, but he's able to hit his spots. It's not only coming around the dot. He's able to score backhand, five-hole. . . . he really doesn't have one part of the net where he scores in consistently. He can score anywhere. I think it's due to his great vision."
Who has the hardest slap shot on the team?
"You don't see too many slap shots nowadays. It's all about snapshots and quick releases. But I'd have to say Finns (Joe Finley) based on his size. I remember the goal he scored last year against Colorado College. There's not a goalie that's going to stop that. He just flat-out overpowered the goalie with that shot. When he lays into it, he's not just laying his 250 pounds behind it. He's also got the whip of the stick. It's definitely a heavy shot."
Reach Schlossman at 780-1129, (800) 477-6572 ext. 129 or firstname.lastname@example.org .