During the second half of Matt Kiersted's freshman season, longtime UND hockey radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessy offered a prediction.
"By the time Matt Kiersted is done here," Hennessy said, "he'll be an All-American."
It was a bold prediction considering Kiersted had a modest four-goal, eight-point freshman year. But Hennessy stuck to it and repeated it on the air year after year.
Kiersted's numbers continually improved.
The defenseman from Elk River, Minn., jumped to seven goals and 18 points as a sophomore. Then, he had six goals and 29 points as a junior, while earning all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference second-team honors.
This summer, Kiersted is making Hennessy look rather wise.
Kiersted has been outstanding in all facets during UND's voluntary summer scrimmages, and that continued Tuesday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Kiersted scored two more goals and generated plenty of offense for his team without sacrificing the defensive aspect of his game.
While many players tend to be a little more aggressive offensively and careless defensively during summer scrimmages, Kiersted has generally played within himself. Yet he's still generated as much offense as anyone.
On his first goal Tuesday, he sliced through a couple of defenders with quick hands to get to the slot, then he picked the corner of the net for a pretty goal.
Moments later, he made a nice feed to Grant Mismash for a scoring chance. After Mismash was turned aside by goalie Peter Thome, Kiersted picked up the rebound, created space for himself and buried another one.
Those weren't the only highlights Kiersted had Tuesday. He had another one on the opposite end of the rink.
Goalie Harrison Feeney was hugging the post to deny a chance at the side of the net. The puck trickled to the top of the crease, where it appeared Jasper Weatherby was going to have a tap-in. But Kiersted managed to tie up Weatherby's stick and save a goal.
Kiersted, who opted to return for his senior season instead of signing a free-agent NHL deal, is looking every bit like the All-American that Hennessy expected three years ago.
Kawaguchi making teammates look good
This will come as no surprise to any UND fans, but senior captain Jordan Kawaguchi made his teammates look pretty good Tuesday.
He set up Griffin Ness and Weatherby for goals.
The feed to Ness was particularly brilliant. Kawaguchi, who was well defended, had the puck at the top of the right circle. He fired a no-look, backhand feed all the way across the ice and put it on Ness's tape. The rookie forward finished the pass with a one-timer, learning in the process why UND players love being on the ice with Kawaguchi.
The Hobey Baker Award finalist had one other play of note that didn't result in a goal. He zipped through the defense on the left side and threaded a pass to the doorstep, where Gabe Bast was waiting. Goalie Harrison Feeney made an impressive save to deny Bast, though.
Ness keeps finishing
When you watch Ness, the rookie from Wayzata, Minn., he doesn't jump off the page.
He's not a particularly explosive skater. He doesn't appear to have a blistering shot. He's not dangling around players with quick hands. But it's hard to ignore the fact that when he gets scoring chances, he keeps finishing them.
The percentage of scoring chances that he's finished is usually high.
While it's doubtful that he was penciled into the lineup as a potential piece on the second power-play unit as a freshman, based on what he's done this summer, he might work his way into earning a tryout there.
He scored a goal in front of the net Tuesday. He made no mistake when Kawaguchi handed him a nice feed. There was another goal scored around the crease area that was either Ness or Mark Senden. If it was Ness, that would make it three goals on the day.
Time will tell if he can keep this going when chances are harder to generate, but he's been quite noticeable in the way he finishes his chances this summer.
- Weatherby scored a couple of goals on top of the crease, finishing feeds from Senden and Kawaguchi. Weatherby also set up Shane Pinto for one.
- Ethan Frisch has scored a couple of really nice goals this summer and he did it again Tuesday. Frisch, in tight next to the goal, somehow got the puck up quickly and buried one top shelf.
- Mismash has been more of a shooter than a passer during his first three years at UND, but this week, he has turned into a setup man. He made a nice feed to Collin Adams for a goal on a two-on-zero rush, and he made a nice setup for Jackson Keane, who hammered a shot past one of the netminders.
- Judd Caulfield scored a goal on a breakaway, slipping the puck five-hole. Carson Albrecht also scored a controversial goal, which trickled behind Thome. One team thought the puck crossed the line. The other didn't.
- Gavin Hain ended the scrimmage by blasting a one-timer past Feeney on a rush.