Schlossman: Poolman shows promise for UND hockey team
GRAND FORKS – North Dakota hasn’t trailed much this season – and certainly not much at the end of games.
By the third period, UND is usually going into lockdown mode, playing a style that has allowed it to go 60-0-4 when leading after two periods since November 2013.
But something different has happened the last two weekends.
UND faced third-period deficits in back-to-back weekends against Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College, and it has given us a window into some of the high-end skills that Tucker Poolman possesses.
Needing to score a goal late in the game, Poolman ditched his spot on the point several times to create rushes and scoring chances. For a guy with a 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame, Poolman is remarkably agile and fearless in taking pucks to the net if he has the opportunity.
While we’ve seen Troy Stecher take over games from the blue line before, the first time we saw Poolman do it was Friday night against Omaha. With UND down a goal, Poolman had three shots on goal from below the dot. Two came on top of the crease.
You don’t often see a defenseman get to that area – especially when a team is protecting a one-goal lead. But that’s something that separates Poolman and Stecher from other defensemen around the country.
Last weekend, Poolman was back at it again.
He led North Dakota in shots on goal both Friday (six) and Saturday (five). His 11 shots on goal for the weekend doubled everyone on the roster outside of Brock Boeser (eight) and Bryn Chyzyk (six).
This time, most were coming from the point, where he’s UND’s best at getting pucks to the net.
Only 33.3 percent of his shots have been blocked this season, tying Keaton Thompson for the top mark among the team’s defensemen. Stecher is at 34 percent, followed by Gage Ausmus (38.5), Paul LaDue (40.4) and Hayden Shaw (41.8).
Fifty percent of Poolman’s shot attempts are going on net (not wide, not blocked), which also is best on the team, followed by Stecher (46 percent), LaDue (43.4), Thompson (42.5), Shaw (39.5) and Ausmus (37.2).
With Poolman’s booming shot from the point, that’s a key stat. Even if his shots don’t go in, goalies have a tough time controlling the rebound and it leads to more scoring chances.
UND would prefer not to be behind and let Poolman play his shutdown defensive style, which he can with his size, reach and skating ability. But now we know that if UND needs it, Poolman can take over a game offensively, too.