Sophomore class holds the key
Chay Genoway went from a solid player to one of the elite defensemen in the league. Chris VandeVelde went from a guy who spent a couple games as a healthy scratch to a first-line player and an all-league candidate. If the UND men's hockey team pl...
Chay Genoway went from a solid player to one of the elite defensemen in the league.
Chris VandeVelde went from a guy who spent a couple games as a healthy scratch to a first-line player and an all-league candidate.
If the UND men's hockey team plans to contend for its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association title since 2004, the Sioux are going to need their sophomores to take steps similar to the ones Genoway and VandeVelde made last season.
"Our sophomore class, especially in the first half of the year," coach Dave Hakstol says, "could differentiate us from being a good team or being better than that. It's a very, very important year in their development. They need to become impact players for us on a nightly basis."
Evan Trupp, Matt Frattin and Brad Malone all were regulars up front as rookies last season.
Trupp provided the biggest impact by scoring eight goals and adding five assists before going down with a leg injury. Frattin had four goals and 11 assists and Malone, who was slowed by injuries, had a goal and two assists.
Hakstol thinks all can grow this season.
Trupp is a shifty playmaker who showed a knack for scoring timely and highlight-reel goals. Frattin went through a scoring drought but was one of the best goal-scorers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before coming to UND. And Malone is expected to add a physical presence.
"We saw flashes from them last year," Hakstol said.
On the blue line, sophomores Jake Marto and Derrick LaPoint will be relied upon even more than last season.
They split time as the sixth defenseman a year ago. The smooth-skating Marto had two goals and six assists in 28 games. LaPoint had two goals and five assists in 31 games.
"Both of them did a very good job in their roles last season," Hakstol said. "But it's a challenge to step up from a little more of a limited role to a more significant role. They'll play more minutes and more key minutes."
They are expected to be top-five defensemen along with Genoway, Joe Finley and Zach Jones. Freshmen Corey Fienhage, a third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, and rookie Ben Blood, a fourth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, also will battle for a lineup spot.
"Both Jake and Derrick are very mature guys," Hakstol said. "They have to use that experience and maturity in order to step into that top-five, everyday role."
Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to email@example.com .