Heart-rate data helps UND hockey coaches learn more about players

UND coach Brad Berry was comfortable with double-shifting Tucker Poolman and Gage Ausmus during Saturday night's 5-4 win over Bemidji State. And there's good reason for it. This season, Berry and his staff have been closely monitoring players' he...

University of North Dakota forward Joel Janatuinen (25) celebrates his first goal of the season as his teammates Hayden Shaw, Austin Poganski flank him in the first period of SaturdayÕs game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
UND players celebrate a goal against RPI earlier this season. Photo by Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald.

UND coach Brad Berry was comfortable with double-shifting Tucker Poolman and Gage Ausmus during Saturday night’s 5-4 win over Bemidji State.

And there’s good reason for it.

This season, Berry and his staff have been closely monitoring players’ heart rates during practices and off-ice workouts to know exactly what they can handle and how fast their bodies can recover from exerting energy.

Each player wears a monitor, placed over their heart. It’s held on by an elastic band that wraps around the upper torso of their bodies.

A television screen in the locker room area reads out the data of their heart-rate monitors. A player just needs to find his box on the screen and he can see all of the statistics.


“It’s very accurate,’ Berry said. “I think it’s very good. Not only for us coaches, but the players get info on what they’re at with their workload, rest and recuperation side of it. It’s something that’s evolving when you talk about analytics.”

Berry first learned of this when he was coaching with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League. Manitoba’s NHL franchise was the Vancouver Canucks, and Canucks strength and conditioning coach Roger Takahashi had the same setup for some of his players.

Vancouver stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin always wore heart-rate monitors to track their info.

Berry said that his players wear the monitors for all practices and workouts -- and some have even started to do so during games.

The information can help the coaches know how to best handle players, including ice time and recovery time.

“For us as coaches, it helps us see where players are at -- their level of fitness, whether you can use them more or use them less, and where we can be more efficient on our bench management side of it,” Berry said. “How much can you put a player on the ice? How long does it take for them to recover?”

Berry said when they first implemented the heart-rate monitors, they told the players not to pay attention to their teammates’ data.

“Our first statement to players was do not check yourself against someone else because you’re not the same person,” Berry said. “You’re all made up differently. Check to see your own information, where you need to get better or where you want to get better.”


The training staff, led by Mark Poolman, also has been monitoring players in other ways, including how much weight they lose during a game and how fast they can be brought back up to their usual weights.

“Over the course of time, we’ll get more information on how to use it,” Berry said. “We’re getting very basic, standard info right now. There are other things as far as sleep patterns and even bloodwork to see if you are deficient in certain things that can help later on.

“We’re only scratching the surface.”

No. 1 UND at No. 2 Minnesota Duluth

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: AmsOil Arena, Duluth.

TV/radio: Fox Sports North (GF 28/623 HD) on Friday, Midco Sports Network (GF 27/622 HD) on Saturday; The Fox (96.1 FM).

Records: UND 5-0 (0-0 NCHC); Minnesota Duluth 3-1-2 (0-0).


Of note: UND shutout Minnesota Duluth on back-to-back nights in AmsOil Arena last season.

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
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