Dane Montgomery practices for first time this season
The UND sophomore forward has been battling a nagging upper-body injury.
OMAHA, Neb. — The UND hockey team lined up near the glass Thursday afternoon in Baxter Arena, waiting for the ice to be cleaned before their practice.
There was nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, No. 5 walked out of the locker room in a green jersey and full gear.
UND sophomore forward Dane Montgomery skated with the Fighting Hawks at their practice Thursday in Omaha. It marked the first time Montgomery has practiced with the team this entire season.
Montgomery, a Grand Forks native, has been battling a nagging upper-body injury since the offseason.
He's only skated on his own a few times.
"It feels good, man," Montgomery said after the hour-long practice. "It's been a long year not being able to go out there. A lot of practices watched. It's definitely a lot better to be out there with all the boys instead of sitting in the stands and watching."
Although he's been unable to participate, Montgomery has attended practice daily all season along, sitting in Section 114. Near the end of practices, he'll often move down to the bench area.
"It's definitely not been easy," Montgomery said. "I think it's helped me watching hockey and seeing how everything is developing and being that extra hand for anyone that needs it. If I'm seeing something different that guys aren't seeing on the ice, it's being able to speak up and knowing guys care what I have to say. Just because I'm not playing doesn't mean I'm not useful. It keeps me into it. But it's been a long year sitting there."
Montgomery was a late addition to the roster last season after Jasper Weatherby signed a pro contract with the San Jose Sharks.
Montgomery played in 16 games as a freshman, scoring one goal and three points. His goal was a key one. He scored in a 3-2 UND win at Minnesota Duluth in AmsOil Arena last February as the Fighting Hawks charged to the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions.
Although Montgomery practiced Thursday, he will not be available for UND's best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series against Omaha this weekend. There's still a ways to go before he can be cleared to play.
"It's definitely still a process," said Montgomery, who will be taking a redshirt this season. "I'm still going through different stuff back home, different stuff in the weight room. I'm dealing with a couple other people who are helping me out. I still have a little ways to go. I've come a long way since the beginning of the year with this thing. I'm glad to be out there."