The 2017-2018 season was a major stepping stone in the development process for North Dakota’s seven former freshmen. Injuries plagued North Dakota’s roster, in turn creating opportunities for the freshmen. While injuries are never a good thing for a team, it is a normal occurrence in a sport like hockey. The “next-man-up” mentality was in full effect for North Dakota. The freshmen were able to produce decent points and showcase their abilities to the North Dakota faithful.
The Nashville Predator’s second round pick in 2017 shined in his freshman season at North Dakota. The 6’1, 195-pound goal scorer from Edina, Minnesota put up major numbers for being only an 18-year old freshman. Mismash played in 38 games in 2017-2018, pocketing 19 goals with 13 helpers for 32 points on the year. Mismash was close to being a point-per-game player. With a year under his belt at North Dakota, Mismash should build on those numbers in his sophomore year and become more than a point-per-game player.
The New York Islander’s sixth round pick in 2016 did not put up the numbers he wanted or expected in his freshman year. Adams put up five goals and three assists for eight points in 26 games. Adams had minor injuries throughout the year which could be attributed to the lack of production. However, Adams is more than capable of putting up big numbers for North Dakota even being only 5’9 and 188 pounds. In the 2016-2017 season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, Adams netted 24 goals and 27 assists for 51 points in 57 games. Adams has shown his abilities in juniors, now in his sophomore year, it is time to show it to the North Dakota faithful.
The product of Abbotsford, British Columbia played in 38 games for North Dakota in his freshman year. The 5’9, 180-pound winger netted five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 2017-2018. Kawaguchi played in many roles for North Dakota. Kawaguchi spent time on the power-play and some penalty-kill. Kawaguchi should be able to build off a successful freshman season.
The Red Deer, Alberta native was able to play in 27 games for North Dakota in 2017-2018. Bast was credited with a single goal and 10 assists for 11 points on the year. The 5’10, 195-pound defenseman has a powerful shot, that hopefully can be used even more in his sophomore season. Bast was a piece in a young defensive core, that learned a lot throughout the season. Bast should be able to produce bigger numbers this year, but it has to be without compromising the defensive side of the game.
The 6’0, 186-pound defensive defenseman out of Elk River, Minnesota did exactly what was asked in his freshman season. Kiersted played in 29 games, putting up four goals and four assists for eight points. While Kiersted’s numbers are lower, he never compromised defense for offense. Kiersted will be a vital part of the defensive core this season.
The product of Regina Saskatchewan played in 17 games for North Dakota in 2017-2018. Rieger had three assists for three points in his freshman season. Rieger is a natural defenseman but was asked to play forward in a couple games for North Dakota. Rieger is starting the 2018-2019 season at defense, but if needed due to injuries, he is capable of playing forward. Rieger should be able to put up better numbers with a more solidified role on the team and with more games played this season.
The massive 6’4”, 205-pound goalie from Minneapolis, Minnesota was forced into the lineup from an injury to Cam Johnson in the 2017-2018 season. Thome went on a run for North Dakota. Thome played in 12 games putting up a 2.31 GAA and a .910 SV%. Thome has plenty of potential. Thome was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round in 2016. Thome should start the season as the starting goaltender for North Dakota and is expected to build off last season and really come to form this season for North Dakota.
North Dakota’s sophomore class is eager to build off a successful freshman season. The seven sophomores will have every opportunity to prove themselves this season. The expectations are there, now can they be met?