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Collin Adams carving out top-six role for UND

After Collin Adams was a healthy scratch for eight-straight games to end last season, he took a hard look at his game. He knew he needed to be better as a sophomore to remain a fixture in the lineup. "I wanted to manage the puck better," Adams said.

102018 s gfh undhockey JordanKawaguchi GrantMismash CollinAdams01.jpg
UND forward Collin Adams celebrates his goal with teammates Jordan Kawaguchi (29) and Grant Mismash (16) in the first period of Friday's home hockey game. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald'
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After Collin Adams was a healthy scratch for eight-straight games to end last season, he took a hard look at his game.

He knew he needed to be better as a sophomore to remain a fixture in the lineup.

“I wanted to manage the puck better,” Adams said. “I thought I made a lot of turnovers and freshman mistakes. When you’re super young, you make a lot of mistakes. But coming into your sophomore year, you accept a bigger role and try to become better every day.”

Through the first month of the season, not only has Adams been consistently in the lineup, he’s been on the top two lines for all nine UND games.

He’s spent six of the nine games on a line with seniors Rhett Gardner and Joel Janatuinen, while also getting power-play time.

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The sixth-round New York Islanders draft pick was at his best in UND’s last home series against Wisconsin, where he tallied three assists and registered a plus-4 rating.

“We like the overall pace of his game,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “As a first-year guy last year, there were inconsistencies of what he brought to the table -- his pace of play with and without the puck. What we’re seeing now is when he gets the puck, he’s becoming a threat, whether that’s driving the net or protecting the puck or making a play.

“When he doesn’t have it, he’s one of the first guys back in the neutral zone or defensive zone with his skating ability. That side of it is a big deal for us. That’s part of the maturity of his game. For us to have success, we need guys to take another step.”

Adams and the rest of UND’s forwards may have to play an extra-large role during this weekend’s series against Western Michigan (7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Ralph Engelstad Arena).

The Fighting Hawks (5-3-1) played without three forwards last Saturday night at Miami University -- alternate captain Nick Jones (lower body), junior Ludvig Hoff (lower body) and freshman Gavin Hain (illness) -- and there’s no guarantee any of them will be back.

“Absolutely, there’s a chance,” UND coach Brad Berry said about getting one or more of those players in the lineup. “We have a couple of days before Friday. Without letting the cat out of the bag, we have to go through a couple of days to see if one, two or three of them are ready. We’ll go from there. Again, (if they’re able to play), it will be because of us doing the right things and making sure they’re ready to go.”

If UND is shorthanded, it could use a productive weekend from Adams, who has been a high scorer at other levels.

The Brighton, Mich., product had 61 and 51 points in his two season with Muskegon in the United States Hockey League. In his second year, he played on a line with Andrei Svechnikov, last year’s No. 2 overall pick in the NHL Draft and a current member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Adams started quickly as a freshman last season, tallying four goals in the first nine games. But he only scored once and had three points during his final 17 games of the season. By the end, he was being scratched.

This season, Adams has improved defensively and has limited turnovers, leading to a larger role and more minutes.

It has been much needed for the Fighting Hawks, who went into the season in search of two top-six wingers to join Gardner, Jones, Jordan Kawaguchi and Grant Mismash on the top two lines.

“I’m just trying to focus on day-by-day things, doing the right things and getting better,” Adams said.

WESTERN MICHIGAN AT NO. 11 UND

When: 7:37 p.m. Friday; 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Records: UND 5-3-1 (1-1 NCHC); Western Michigan 4-6 (1-3).

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TV/radio: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622); The Fox (96.1 FM).

Webcast: NCHC.tv.

Related Topics: COLLIN ADAMS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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