Just like his brother, Colton Poolman wins NCHC defensive defenseman award

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UND captain Colton Poolman accepts the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions on Feb. 29 in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Tucker and Colton Poolman are different in many ways.

They're different in size, body types and personality.

But one thing is the same: They were both the best defensive defenseman in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference during their final season of college hockey.

Tucker won the award as a junior in 2016-17, just prior to signing an NHL deal with the Winnipeg Jets.

Colton won it Tuesday, just days after signing a free-agent deal with the Calgary Flames.


Poolman beat out defenders such as Western Michigan's Mattias Samuelsson, Minnesota Duluth's Nick Wolff, Denver's Griffin Mendel and St. Cloud State's Jack Ahcan.

"It's really neat," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's neat that our league recognizes defensive defensemen. To have an offensive defenseman award and a defensive defenseman award, it kind of helps recognize guys that have a very good game in that area. Tucker had some very good offensive abilities, but man, he was a good defender. And now to have two guys in a family win that award in a tough league, that's pretty special."

Poolman played in all situations for UND. He scored four goals and tallied 17 points, while anchoring a role on the second power-play unit.

But he was at his best in his own end. He drew the assignment of the opponent's best forwards each night. Poolman excelled at that role and his team finished No. 1 in the NCHC in team defense, allowing fewer than two goals per game.

"I think it's just his reliability of making the right play every time," Berry said. "When he makes a breakout pass, it's usually the first option. He never overhandles the puck. He's a north player. He goes north quite a bit. He's a guy who is always on the right side of pucks and piles. He's just reliable that way. He was a big part of our team over the course of the last four years, defending and matching up against other team's top players."

Poolman also anchored UND's penalty kill, which led the NCHC and finished fifth nationally at 88 percent.

"He does all the things you need to do to be successful," Berry said. "He has it in his DNA. He has a good, quick stick. He gets sticks on pucks all the time. His body positioning, his ability to get in lanes and his willingness to block shots. . . Also, on the other side of it, when he has a puck on his tape and a guy draped on his back, he has the heaviness to get pucks to clear the zone on the PK. He's really solid in every area."

Poolman has been a leader for UND, wearing the captain's 'C' the past two seasons. He had an opportunity to turn pro at the end of his junior year, but opted to return for his senior year.


He led UND to a 26-5-4 mark and a Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions.

"The other part is the offensive side of his game, too," Berry said. "He went to Penticton for juniors and that really opened up his offensive ability, his confidence with the puck and his playmaking ability. He made big-time plays offensively for us, too."

NCHC defensive defenseman of the year

2016-17 -- Tucker Poolman, North Dakota

2017-18 -- Will Borgen, St. Cloud State

2018-19 -- Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State

2019-20 -- Colton Poolman, North Dakota

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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