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TOM MILLER: UND no longer a one-line team

In the first half of the season, one concern for the UND offense was the reliance on the dynamic top line of Nick Schmaltz, Drake Caggiula and Brock Boeser.

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In the first half of the season, one concern for the UND offense was the reliance on the dynamic top line of Nick Schmaltz, Drake Caggiula and Brock Boeser.

As we’re closing in on mid-March, there’s now a crazy bit of trivia that goes directly against that early-season storyline.

Since Jan. 1, by no surprise, UND is led in goal scoring by Boeser.

But the second-leading goal scorer in that time frame?

Well, that’s walk-on senior Coltyn Sanderson, who scored his first career goal on Jan. 8.

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Sanderson had another goal Friday night as UND beat Colorado College 7-1 in the opener of a best-of-three NCHC playoff series at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Sanderson now has six goals in 11 games. His play is a shining example of UND’s improving offensive depth.

As rookies have emerged and injured players have returned to the lineup, the Fighting Hawks have settled on four forward groupings that are all bringing something to the table -- both in scoring depth and in providing a physical presence.

“At the start of the year, it’s a feeling out process with 11 new guys coming in and making sure they’re all developing,” Sanderson said. “This time of year, you find what’s working and clicking. Hopefully, we can continue that deeper into the playoffs.”

Against the Tigers, 14 UND players found the scoresheet. The team scored four power-play goals and two weren’t by the top unit.

“I think we have four lines playing really well,” Schmaltz said. “This time of year, you have to have four lines rolling and hopefully we can keep that up.”

Before Christmas, UND’s forwards outside of the top line seemed to take offense to the Fighting Hawks’ label as a one-line team.

“That top line has been dynamic and doing a great job,” Sanderson said. “The rest of the locker room has skill and talent, too, and guys want to do what they can, whether it’s secondary scoring or being tough to play against. It’s big for us right now to have some depth.”

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After spending most of his career in and out of the lineup, Sanderson has found a niche on the fourth line alongside freshmen Shane Gersich and Chris Wilkie.

“We like the predictability in his game,” UND coach Brad Berry said of Sanderson. “He does things consistently the right way. We’re having a lot of trust in him.”

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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