GRAND FORKS -- Each year, you closely examine the University of North Dakota's preseason exhibition game for signs of what might be to come.
In last year's exhibition win over Manitoba, UND outshot the Bisons 55-9 but struggled to finish chances and the game went to overtime. That ended up being a preview of the rest of the season, one in which the Fighting Hawks routinely outshot opponents but had little to show for it.
If Saturday night's 5-1 win over Manitoba proves to be a preview of this season, too, UND would be mighty fine with it.
That's because three guys who UND is hoping will emerge offensively this season -- and solve the program's offensive woes from a year ago -- did exactly that against the Bisons.
Junior Grant Mismash, who missed most of the second half of last year with a knee injury, had four assists.
Classmate Collin Adams, who was limited to two goals last season, scored a goal and generated chances throughout.
Sophomore Gavin Hain, who was elevated in the lineup in hopes he could add more offense, scored twice against Manitoba.
"That's a big deal," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We talked about that with not only (Mismash) but Collin Adams. You're upperclassmen now. You've been here a couple years. You know how we do things here. You have to lead by example on the ice and part of that is the work ethic every day in practice and coming to work and having focus. I think they did a pretty good job of that."
Mismash and Adams had track records of producing offense in junior hockey.
Mismash, a second-round pick of the Nashville Predators, had 26 goals and 61 points for the U.S. Under-18 Team prior to coming to college. Adams, a sixth-round pick of the New York Islanders, had 24 goals and 51 points in his final season in the United States Hockey League before coming to campus.
As sophomores, they combined for just seven goals. But it appears like that will change this season.
"Obviously, it was a good win and a confidence boost for the whole team and individually," Mismash said. "There were some good plays out there by everyone. The power play was going. Five on five was good. Good start to the season, but it's just exhibition. We've got a lot of work. I'm looking forward to that Canisius series next week."
There were other good signs, too.
UND's two highest NHL draft picks -- sophomore defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker and freshman Shane Pinto -- also scored goals in the game.
The power play, which finished dead last in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, was red hot in the exhibition. The Fighting Hawks scored three times on seven chances, while producing 15 shots on goal with the extra man.
"The power play looked good tonight," Hain said. "It was the first time in a game, obviously. In practice, it has been good. It's a big change from our power play last year, just doing everything differently. But tonight it looked good. We've just got to keep practicing our roles, get crisper on passes and plays and the puck will go in, I think."