Injury break short-lived for Drake

Caggiula rebounds from injury and tallies highlight reel goal last weekend.

Sophomore forward Drake Caggiula brings the puck down the ice against Colorado College in January last season. Caggiula leads the team in goals this season so far with three. File photo.

A week after being taken off the ice on a stretcher against the U.S. Under-18 team on Oct. 26, Drake Caggiula scored a highlight reel goal that was named the No. 1 play on Fox Sports 1.

Last Friday, the sophomore forward wasted no time rebounding back into the game as he sent the puck in between the legs of St. Cloud’s Nic Dowd and picked it up again to put it in the back of the net.

“Obviously, the outcome of the game was what was on my mind,” Caggiula said. “But it was pretty cool to have all the fans supporting me and tweeting at me and trying to get my goal up on Fox Sports 1.”

His goal was named the play of the day, but what was on the mind of Caggiula just a week prior was simply when he would get another chance to lace up his skates and put on his green and white jersey.

“The USA today accident was one of the scarier moments in my life,” Caggiula said. “I didn’t know what to expect really. I didn’t know if I would be back the weekend after, or if I was going to be out for months at a time. I had no idea.”

In six games this season, Caggiula currently leads the team with three goals and two assists for five points. In his 45 games at UND, he has tallied 11 goals and 10 assists.

While his recent attention may be due in part to his emotional ups and downs, Caggiula’s consistency has been the element that keeps him ahead.

“I think everybody notices when you score a highlight reel goal like he has once or twice this year,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Everybody notices the offensive side — I pay more attention to the other arts of his game.

“In terms of forwards, he been the most difficult to play. He’s been the hardest guys to play up front. He’s done all the little things the right way … I think he’s one guy that has held a highly competitive consistent level of play. That’s the biggest part of maturity he’s showing that’s most important to our team.”

Age not a factor

Last Saturday, a single senior’s name appeared in the lineup.

UND captain Dillon Simpson may have been the lone senior on the ice — and ironically younger than a few freshman on the team — but the evident youth within the team is not something it will embrace.

“We’ve never once talked to or about this team in terms of being a ‘youthful team’ and we’re not going to start now,” Hakstol said.

With the loss of key players in the lineup from last season, this year has sparked ambition from players who want to step up.

“It’s tough. You lose a lot of goal scorers from last year … We need guys to fill those roles this year,” Caggiula said. “For guys to step up and take that leadership role — it’s pretty exciting to watch guys in practice every week work pretty hard to get to where they fill those spots where guys were last year.”

A trip to remember

With a trip to Omaha, Neb., this weekend, the team can’t help but remember what happened last February.

After an outdoor hockey game at T.D. Ameritrade park in Omaha earlier this year, the team and hundreds of fans traveled back home in a snowstorm and was stranded in South Dakota.

“We might have to pack a couple blankets or something,” sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg joked. “Maybe a couple sleeping bags as well. We’ll see what happens I guess.”

With snow a possibility in the forecast, Gothberg is ready to embrace whatever might happen.

“Who knows,” Gothberg said. “It’s always fun to go on the road. We’re always together, so it’ll be a good experience to go out there and have a good time.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].