During his first two seasons, Collin Adams showed subtle signs that he had elite offensive abilities.
It never consistently transferred to games, though. He had five goals, eight points as a freshman and just two goals, seven points as a sophomore.
That all changed last season.
Adams had a major breakout year, scoring 12 goals and 28 points in 35 games. He finished fourth on the team in goals and tied for third in points, while anchoring the center position on the top line alongside Grant Mismash and Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist Jordan Kawaguchi.
He gained a lot of confidence last season, and that confidence hasn't gone anywhere.
Adams was the star of Thursday's informal summer scrimmage of UND hockey players in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The senior forward from Brighton, Mich., scored two of the first three goals, displaying a big-time shot on both of them. Both goals were snipes from just inside the dot.
On the first one, Adams skated into open space and sent a rocket into the corner of the net. On the second one, he took a feed from Kawaguchi and launched one off the bar and in.
Adams would have had a hat trick if not for a tremendous save by Peter Thome, who denied Adams from in tight.
Adams has the ability to separate from players with his speed, and for a smaller player at 5-foot-9, 188 pounds, he has excellent puck protection skills. Last summer, he continually scored Zach Parise-like goals from the top of the crease. That trend continued into the season.
Now, he's showing the ability to score from the dots on a goaltender who is squared up.
In addition to the goals, Adams had another play that stood out. Forward Judd Caulfield had a breakaway, but Adams caught him with a furious backcheck and didn't allow Caulfield to get off a great shot.
Those types of plays on both ends of the rink will get Adams a lot of playing time in a lot of situations and point to a potential big senior season for the sixth-round New York Islanders draft pick.
Adam Scheel shines
The other big standout of Thursday's informal scrimmage was junior goaltender Adam Scheel.
With three goalies on the roster, usually, one will sub out after allowing a goal.
Most of the subbing was Thome and Harrison Feeney as Scheel did not allow a goal until his team was already ahead 6-0.
Perhaps the best save of the day for Scheel was on a two-on-one rush, where Mismash hit Matt Kiersted backdoor. Scheel moved from left to right -- reading the play well -- and made the save.
Eventually, Kiersted did break through and score on Scheel.
Other scrimmage highlights
- Kawaguchi scored on a nice play out front. He got the puck on top of the crease with space, froze Feeney, waited for the goalie to drop, then moved the puck around him for a goal.
- Gavin Hain, who spent last month working out with Cole Smith in Brainerd, Minn., set up rookie defenseman Jake Sanderson for a goal.
- Another summer skate, another goal for Carson Albrecht, who opened the scoring on a re-direct on top of the crease.
- Gabe Bast, who will be battling for positioning on the right side of UND's defensive unit, picked the corner for a goal from the left circle.
- Caulfield scored the final goal of the day by sending a wrist shot from the slot off the post and in.
- Tyler Kleven's forte is likely going to be defending, but he does have some offensive confidence as well. The players played a shootout game at the end of their skate and Kleven scored on a nice move.
- Keep in mind, you'll probably hear about more goals by defensemen in summer skates for two reasons: 1. They tend to be more aggressive in summer pickup games than in regular-season games; 2. The rookie forwards aren't on campus yet, so the roster is heavily skewed toward defensemen (11 forwards, 9 defensemen). That means defensemen are routinely playing shifts at forward.