UND forward Shane Pinto, the second-leading scorer on the team with 15 points in 14 games, spoke to the Herald this week about a number of topics, including playing at home, being on a line with Judd Caulfield and the notoriety of his dog.
Q. What has this season been like playing 14 games without any fans in attendance?
A. Personally, I think the bubble (in Omaha) gave me a new experience. It was sort of a venue thing. Playing in CC and Denver, you felt the no-fan effect, at least for me. You had to create your own energy. You can’t feed off the crowd. In Omaha, they did a good job producing that kind of venue for us. That was the main difference for me. I really felt the no fans the past two weeks. Obviously, we get fans at The Ralph this weekend, so I’m excited for that.
Q. Is it going to be weird having fans now after playing so long without them?
A. I know it’s only 3,000 fans, but I think we’re going to really feed off of it. Personally, I can’t wait just to have our passionate fans. Everyone is going to bring the energy. It’s going to be loud in there when we score that first goal. That’s going to be a cool moment we’ve waited a long time for.
Q. You guys are a perfect 5-0 with the cardboard cutouts of players’ dogs sitting together on the glass, including your dog, Urko. Is Urko going to end up getting more publicity than you this season?
A. My mom came up from New York today and we were just talking about how he’s been getting some love on social media. I love it. I love my dog. For him to get that kind of attention, that’s awesome. The dogs are behind our bench this week. They put them up on Tuesday. Hopefully that’s our good-luck charm.
Q. You played a lot with Judd Caulfield last season and you were reunited with him in Denver. What are your thoughts on playing with him?
A. These past couple weekends, Judd has been showing what kind of player he can be. He’s big, physical, very skilled and creates space for his linemates. I’m excited. I know we didn’t get a week of practice last week. To have a week of practice this week now, I’m excited to play with him. He’s a huge body, he’s strong. He makes plays and creates space for me and Riese (Gaber). I’m excited. I’m hoping we can maybe get him a couple of goals this weekend.
Q. What did you learn about Colorado College playing them two weeks ago?
A. I’m not sure what they’re ranked in our conference -- I know they’re in the bottom three -- but it shows you how strong our conference is. They battled us hard. I don’t think we had that great of games. We were coming back from break. But I know they’re going to come into The Ralph and try to ruin our homecoming. We know they’re going to be a good team and we can’t have any false steps.That’s what I learned playing them.
Q. What have classes been like this year? Are you doing all of them online?
A. I do mostly online, but me and Riese Gaber have one in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I like having one in person. I missed going to campus the past couple months. School hasn’t really been apparent, because you’re not going out on campus. Just to get that normalcy back of going to class, I really enjoyed it. Hopefully, as springtime rolls around, we’ll be doing a little more in person interaction and have that college feeling. It’s been weird these past couple months.
Q. How are you guys spending your time away from the rink and school?
A. A lot of it for us is we practice, we work out and we go home and stay in our little areas. There’s not much social interaction with our peers. You need that balance of hanging with other people. It’s definitely been different. But it’s just part of the way life is right now. You have to go with the flow. As time goes on, things will open a little more. Maybe we’ll have more fans in The Ralph, so they can experience this season with us.
Q. You guys are hitting the stretch run and the Penrose Cup will be decided in the next couple months and the NCAA tournament is two months away. Is that exciting?
A. You never want a season to end. You don’t want the seniors to graduate. They’re such a big part of the team. You start to feel it a little bit at the end of the season. I’m going to enjoy these last two months because we know how special the guys are and what we can do. We’re trying to focus day by day. Hopefully, we’re going to be on the winning end and hopefully we’re going to be able to send them off happy. Time has been flying. The bubble went by so quickly. The season is starting to fly by. I’m going to cherish it and enjoy it.