UND junior forward Jasper Weatherby is the reigning National Collegiate Hockey Conference forward of the week after scoring goals in four-straight games, including two last Saturday against Denver. He spoke with the Herald this week about a new college hockey task force and his hot streak on the ice.
Q. It was revealed this week that you’re one of three NCHC representatives on the College Hockey for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force. How did you end up getting a spot with that group?
A. It was in the summer or the early part of the season, Bubs (UND coach Brad Berry) came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, they’re starting a diversity group among college hockey and they’re looking for someone in each conference. I just talked to Josh (Fenton, NCHC commissioner) and your name came up and we were interested to see if you would want to be part of it.’ I was like, ‘Absolutely. That sounds exactly like something I love.’ So, I volunteered and was lucky enough to get the spot. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a really great group of people.
Q. What’s your meeting schedule like?
A. At the beginning, we would meet once a week or every other week, usually on Sundays or Mondays for about an hour or so, just kind of getting together on Zoom, which is nice. Everyone who can make it, makes it. At first, it was a lot about introducing ourselves and talking about what it is we want to accomplish and also learning a little about the group. We have a really diverse group -- First Nations people from Canada, African Americans, someone from Colombia -- it’s a great group of diverse people coming together in college hockey and trying to make a difference.
Q. In all, there are 27 people involved in the group from men’s and women’s Division-I conferences (see the list here). What has it been like to work with that group?
A. It’s been awesome. They’re really intelligent, really caring, really positive people. I always think you should try to surround yourself with people like that. Getting a chance to talk with those kinds of people every week or every other week puts a bounce in your step and makes you pretty hopeful for not only college hockey but the rest of the country and world, because people are getting together like this and trying to help. I’ve learned so much from these meetings and I’m excited to continue learning more and continue working.
Q. Another member of the group, Omaha assistant coach Paul Jerrard, will be on the opposite bench this weekend. Have you gotten to know Paul?
A. I’ve had some good conversations with Paul. He’s an awesome man who really cares about college hockey and diversity within college hockey. He’s an incredible guy.
Q. What’s your class schedule like this semester?
A. It’s not too bad. It’s mostly classes in the afternoon and they’re mostly through Zoom or a hybrid, which makes it pretty nice.
Q. Has it been difficult to balance all of the things you’re involved in?
A. It’s been fine. I’m passionate about those things, so for me, I don’t see it as something I have to do. I see it as something I get to do. When you get off those calls, I’m pretty amped up. I get to try to help the next generation. It’s been really easy (to balance everything).
Q. At the College Hockey for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion press conference this week, WCHA commissioner Jen Flowers said the group will reveal more info in the future about initiatives you guys are working on. Is that your understanding as well?
A. Yeah, I think that’s the goal. We’ve been working really hard with coming up with the scope of what we can do. There are a lot of things we want to accomplish, but like with anything in life, you have to be realistic and then stick your stake somewhere and say, ‘This is what we’re going to focus on.’ It doesn’t have to be everyone. We have a big group, which makes it nice. Not everyone has to focus on the same thing.
Q. On the ice this season, you’ve played center and wing. You’ve played power play and penalty kill. You’ve moved up and down the lineup. What has that been like for you?
A. It’s been good. I think that’s something I’m expected to do -- be able to be a versatile player. We have one of the deepest rosters in college hockey, and on any given night, I could be playing with two great players, so it’s been awesome. We’re winning games and I’m trying to be part of that and help out as best I can.
Q. You’ve scored goals in four-straight games. Has it been nice to see the puck start going in for you lately?
A. That’s always nice. You try to do the little things and maybe not focus so much on scoring. That’s the key. It seems to bounce in if you’re doing the right things away from the puck. I’m trying to keep my defensive play up, being hard on pucks. It’s nice when they go in like that.
Q. UND and Omaha are first and second in the NCHC in winning percentage. How do you feel heading into the weekend series?
A. It’s going to be fun. These are the games you want to play. The more meaningful the games are, the better you’re doing. We’re going to take it like any other game week and focus on Friday. That’s where our heads are at.