DALLAS-The University of North Dakota will have a first-round NHL draft pick on its roster again this fall.
Incoming freshman defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker was taken in the first round, No. 26 overall, by the Ottawa Senators during the NHL Draft on Friday night in Dallas.
Bernard-Docker is UND's 15th first-round pick since 2000. The other 14 have all played in the NHL.
After a one-year absence without a first-round pick on the roster, Bernard-Docker's addition means that UND will have first-rounder on the roster for the 17th time in the last 19 seasons.
"I couldn't be happier for him," UND coach Brad Berry said from the American Airlines Center in Dallas. "He's a great young man. He's humble and hard-working. Now, just like everyone else who gets drafted, the work starts. It's a great point in time for him to be drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Now, it's time to get to work."
Berry is looking forward to working with Bernard-Docker, who spent the last two seasons with the Okotoks Oilers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Bernard-Docker shot up the draft rankings last season as he racked up 20 goals and 41 points in 49 games from the blue line.
Despite the big numbers, the 6-foot, 187-pound right-handed shooting defenseman might have made an even bigger name for himself for the way he defends.
"He's a pretty special player," said Tyler Deis, who coached Bernard-Docker the last two seasons. "He's a right-handed defenseman who plays 200 feet. He's as good in his zone as he is in the offensive zone. He moves the puck well, jumps into plays and he can skate.
"I had an inkling that he might get picked here in the first round, to be honest. He's a pretty cool player, so the possibility was there. I kind of figured he might. It's a special time for him and his family and it's well deserved. This guy works hard."
UND has had a first-rounder in four of the last five drafts. Nick Schmaltz was picked No. 20 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2014; Brock Boeser was taken No. 23 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2015; and Tyson Jost was taken No. 10 overall in 2016.
Bernard-Docker is the first UND blue liner to go in the first round since Jordan Schmaltz in 2012.
"He has special abilities," Berry said. "He's a big-bodied defenseman. He defends very well. He has good, offensive parts to his game. He's a very good puck mover. He plays a team-first game. Where he's come from a couple years ago to where he is now is because of hard work and dedication. We're looking forward to him being a big part of our group for the next few years to come."
UND's other top prospect, incoming rookie defenseman Jonny Tychonick, did not get picked in Friday's first round. He's expected to go early Saturday, when Rounds 2-7 kick off at 10 a.m. on NHL Network.
UND incoming freshman forwards Jasper Weatherby and Gavin Hain are candidates to go in the late rounds today.