The Juniors

Kyle Kinnamon, Sports Writer

The gritty, hard-nosed, and tough junior class for North Dakota is stepping into their third season, and ready to play old-fashion North Dakota hockey. The junior class is built to shut down the other team through physical play and outstanding defense. While the offense has lacked for this class the first two seasons, some players are eager to breakout this season.


The Local Boys


Three of the five American born playing in North Dakota’s junior class are from right here in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Forward Casey Johnson being the native Grand Forks player, while forward Dixon Bowen and captain Colton Poolman are from just across the Red River.  


“Being in Grand Forks and living here my whole life, it has been an experience that’s for sure,” Casey Johnson said. “It is everything the hype has lived up to.”


“It is a lot of fun every time I get out there,” Dixon Bowen said. “To represent your hometown in this big of a setting is pretty special.”


Casey Johnson

The defensemen now turned forward has played 59 career games for North Dakota. Johnson played defense his freshman year, then played both defensemen and forward his sophomore year due to injuries at the forward position. After playing both positions, Johnson will start the 2018-2019 season at forward for North Dakota.


“It has been a change, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “There has been some adversity, but I am getting the hang of it now. I am excited for it. It is a change in how I am playing and a change-up in how I prepare for my games and practices. But, it has been fun so far.”


In the 59 career games Johnson as played, he has put up one goal and eight assists for nine points. Getting the nod to focus more on offense now, being a forward, should improve his numbers this season.


Dixon Bowen

The North Dakota forward has played 66 games in his career. In those 66 games, Bowen has eight goals and seven assists for 15 points. Bowen showed promise his freshman season, then faced injuries in his sophomore season. Bowen broke his foot and tore his rotator cuff and labrum. Bowen should be back to a staple in the North Dakota lineup for his junior season.


Colton Poolman

The newly-appointed captain has tallied the most games played and points from the junior class with 80 games played, nine goals and 32 assists for 41 points. Poolman’s play and leadership throughout his first two seasons paid off. Entering the 2018-2019 season, Poolman was named captain by his teammates. Poolman’s play was noticed not only by his coaches and teammates but also by NHL teams. This summer, Poolman was invited to the Vancouver Canucks development camp to showcase some of his abilities. Poolman may face more pressure now, being named captain, but Poolman should continue to be the calm leader on the blue line we have seen for two seasons.


The Minnesotans


Zach Yon

The product of Roseau, Minnesota has dawned the North Dakota uniform 60 times in his career. Yon played a more defensive role his first two seasons, playing on the third and fourth lines. Yon has put up four goals and six assists for ten points. While those numbers might be lower, Yon’s job has been to shut down the opposing teams. Yon should continue this defensive trend this season for North Dakota.


Cole Smith

The hard hitting forward from Brainerd, Minnesota has shown his abilities to play the physical side of the game of his two years at North Dakota. Smith played mostly with Johnny Simonson and fellow hard hitting forward, Trevor Olson. Smith plays the game very similar to fan favorite Trevor Olson. Smith has played in 66 games registering eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. Smith is able to play the game like Olson and put up a couple points. Smith’s play was recognized when he was asked to join the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer at their development camps. Smith will continue with his style of play, creating highlight reel hits each weekend.


The Internationals


Andrew Peski


The defensemen out of Orleans, Ontario has been a key piece on the back end for North Dakota his first two seasons. Peski is a defensive defenseman who can be trusted to shut down opposing team’s top lines. Peski has playing in 63 games for North Dakota, scoring one goal and seven assists for eight points. Peski’s role should increase now he is an upperclassman, but don’t expect his numbers to increase. Peski will continue to shut down opposing top players.


Ludvig Hoff

The Norwegian born forward has shown promise his first two seasons for North Dakota. Registering seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 61 games. Hoff stepped into a top six forward role last season, creating plays left and right with his wingers. Hoff did, however, take time away from the North Dakota lineup last season to represent Norway at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. For the 2018-2019 season, Hoff’s role should increase, and with a full season, so should his numbers.


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