Finally, a fresh start for UND forward Brendan Budy
It has been a long road to get to North Dakota for Brendan Budy.
He started his college career at Denver. After a semester, he went back to junior hockey and played a half season with the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League. While there, he committed to UND.
Budy spent last season with the Langley Rivermen in the British Columbia Hockey League before finally setting an arrival date in early July.
Then, there were issues crossing the border because of the coronavirus pandemic, so he got pushed back until later in the month.
Then, the week before he was supposed to arrive, Budy chipped a tooth at a skate back home. He had to push back his arrival date again to get that fixed.
Finally, on Aug. 11, he skated with his new teammates for the first time.
It was worth the wait, Budy said as he closes in on starting Chapter 2 of his college hockey career with the Fighting Hawks.
“It’s been nothing but amazing,” Budy said of his time in Grand Forks. “Ever since I got here, when I walked in, all the guys treated me like family. We’ve got a really close group of guys. The coaching staff has been beyond exceptional. They have taught us a lot on the ice and off the ice. They’re very good people and treat us like family. Being at the rink is always an enjoyment.
“Every day, I look forward to waking up every morning and going to the rink.”
NCHC's top 10 transfers for 2020-21
Budy only played in six games while he was at Denver. He didn’t tally any points.
But it wasn’t his offense that he focused on when back in juniors -- he put up a point per game in Tri-City and nearly that at Langley -- it was defense.
“I feel like I’ve always been gifted offensively,” he said. “But last year, I really tried to focus more on the defensive side of the game, because I know in college and at the next level, it doesn’t matter how good you are offensively; you have to be good defensively to play. I made sure to practice those types of habits to be able to come here and be ready.”
UND’s history of transfers
UND hasn’t often gone the transfer route.
Since Ralph Engelstad Arena opened in 2001, UND has only brought in five transfers. But the Fighting Hawks have done it with increasing success.
The first two transfers in the REA era were players who joined up with brothers at UND. Brendan Connelly transferred from Air Force in 2001 to join his brother, Ryan, but only played six games. In 2011, Mitch MacMillan left St. Cloud State to join his brother, Mark, at UND. Mitch had six goals and 10 points in 39 games.
The last three transfers had major impacts.
Goalie Clarke Saunders came from Alabama Huntsville in 2012 and started 38 games over two seasons, including an NCAA regional final. He was part of UND's 2014 Frozen Four squad.
Forward Nick Jones came from Ohio State in 2017 and finished second on the team in scoring in back-to-back seasons, compiling 50 points in 60 games.
Last season, UND brought aboard graduate transfer Westin Michaud from Colorado College. Michaud tied for the team lead in goals with 16 while helping the Fighting Hawks to a 26-5-4 mark.
Budy’s scouting report
Budy is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward from Langley, B.C., who has primarily been a pass-first player rather than a goal-scorer.
Since leaving Denver, Budy has played 81 junior hockey games, scoring 30 goals and tallying 50 assists.
His strengths are his hands, quickness and creativity.
It’s unknown yet where the left-handed shooting forward will slot into UND’s lineup, but he will come with college experience under his belt.
“I think it did help the transition,” Budy said of spending a semester in college hockey before arriving at UND. “Obviously, I had to play a year of juniors before coming back to college and playing here. I remembered the speed of it, the type of play on the ice, how much faster and quicker it is, how much stronger everyone is, how important it is to learn the systems. I kind of had all of that in the back of my mind playing junior last year.”
Despite arriving late, Budy said it didn’t take long to get acclimated to the team.
“It was a little different knowing that everyone had been here for a while,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to be teammates for a very long time. Everyone has been nice. I got to know everyone as soon as I stepped on campus. It didn’t take long at all to fully know everyone. It’s a tight group.”
Budy also had a few connections to teammates.
His father played high school hockey at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Saskatchewan with Riese Gaber’s father, Mike.
Budy also played on the same team with Shane Pinto in Tri-City.
Budy said he followed last season from afar and received some updates as the Fighting Hawks ran to a 26-5-4 record and held the No. 1 spot in the Pairwise Rankings when the season was brought to an unexpected halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every day, we’re practicing to get better as a team to complete that one goal we have in mind,” Budy said. “The older guys, the returners, it was pretty tough for them last year. Coming back this year, that’s what everyone wants to do. I don’t doubt for a second we have the team to do it. That’s the goal and we have a good chance.”