Every few years, a UND hockey line comes along that opponents have no answer for. They do something, seemingly on a nightly basis, that leaves you shaking your head.
In recent years, there was the Ryan Duncan, T.J. Oshie, Jonathan Toews line in 2006-07, the Matt Frattin, Evan Trupp, Brad Malone line in 2010-11 and the Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz line in 2015-16.
It seems unlikely that this year's team will have a trio of that caliber. But the one thing that has stood out through the first two weeks of informal summer scrimmages in Ralph Engelstad Arena is that UND has a ton of creativity through four lines.
It's not just one line that will have the potential of pulling fans out of their seats -- whether that's at home or in The Ralph -- for a highlight-reel goal this season. You may see those types of plays all over the lineup on any given night.
That was on display Thursday.
The usual suspects were good. Matt Kiersted scored three times. Collin Adams scored a goal and set one up. Jordan Kawaguchi finished one.
But guys who were on third and fourth lines last season were making dynamic and creative plays all over the ice.
Yes, it's the summer when defense can be optional and you have to take everything with a grain of salt. Yes, they were playing four-on-four on an Olympic-sized rink with tons of room to maneuver. But having covered many summer skates in previous years, this type of creativity from so many different players is not something I've seen before.
A few plays stood out.
There was a tic-tac-toe passing play from rookie Mitchell Miller to Mark Senden to Judd Caulfield for a tap-in goal. Miller sees the ice very well.
Jasper Weatherby, who spent much of the year on the fourth line as well as the first power-play unit, showed some big-time ability. He scored one goal by fighting off an Ethan Frisch check, cutting to the middle and picking the corner of the net. He scored a second goal on a snipe. And he set up freshman Griffin Ness for one. We saw glimpses last season of why he was so dominant in the British Columbia Hockey League in juniors, and we'll probably see more and more of that.
Senior Jackson Keane scored twice, including one on a rocket of a one-timer. Defenseman Gabe Bast fed Keane from behind the net and the Manitoban hammered it by the goalie. Keane also was part of a nifty give-and-go play with Kawaguchi that ended with the Hobey Baker Award finalist tapping one in.
Freshman defenseman Tyler Kleven, who is expected to play more of a shut down role as a rookie and probably won't see a ton of offensive opportunities on special teams, continues to show he has that part in his game. Kleven can really hammer a point shot, but he's also got some pretty good hockey sense and has the ability to carry the puck.
Considering that UND lost just one player in its top six up front, the Fighting Hawks should have their most offensive third line since 2010-11, when Danny Kristo and Brock Nelson were third-liners.
Other notes from the scrimmage
- The save of the day came from Adam Scheel, who denied Kawaguchi from point-blank range on the opening shift of the scrimmage.
- Jake Sanderson was finally held off the scoreboard. He missed on a breakaway and was not too happy about it, but he did set up two goals.
- Bast had his most active day to date. He scored the final goal of the scrimmage on a wraparound, picking up the rebound of a Sanderson shot. He also set up Keane on the one-timer.
- Defensemen continued to be active. The final score was 9-8 (17 goals total). Defensemen, who often played shifts at forward, accounted for seven goals (Kiersted 3, Bast, Kleven, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Josh Rieger).
- It was clearly the last scrimmage of the week: Defense was optional.
- In the summer, it's pretty common for players to sit out if they're a little bit banged up. But, so far, it's been a pretty successful summer health-wise. Harrison Blaisdell is the only one who has missed a few days thus far with a lower-body injury.