Visit pays off for UND
GRAND FORKS - It was a random Monday in January. The University of North Dakota was beginning preparations for a National Collegiate Hockey Conference road series, but Dave Hakstol was nowhere to be found. He was not in Ralph Engelstad Arena that...
GRAND FORKS – It was a random Monday in January.
The University of North Dakota was beginning preparations for a National Collegiate Hockey Conference road series, but Dave Hakstol was nowhere to be found. He was not in Ralph Engelstad Arena that day.
Hakstol took an early morning flight to Waterloo, Iowa, to visit forward Brock Boeser, the top uncommitted recruit in the country.
Sure Boeser had already made his official visit to North Dakota, and the coaching staff had seen him play enough to know everything they needed to know, but they weren’t going to leave any stone unturned in pursuit of the forward.
On the surface, it seemed like a longshot.
Boeser is a Twin Cities, kid, born and raised in Burnsville, Minn. He had been playing with a pair of Minnesota commits with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League, forming dynamite line combinations.
His cousin, Dan, was a four-year letterwinner and captain of the University of Wisconsin. Boeser had even originally committed to the Badgers, but re-opened his recruitment in November.
Hakstol, Brad Berry and Dane Jackson pursued him, anyway, knowing that he’s a special player and could make a big difference in the outcome of the 2015-16 season.
First, UND got Boeser on a visit to Ralph Engelstad Arena. Then, they kept in contact with him, though not pressuring him. They even traveled to Waterloo twice to see him.
It all paid off.
In February, Boeser called the coaches and told them that he’s coming to North Dakota.
“I think I shocked a lot of people by going here,” Boeser said, “but this is the place to be.”
The right winger has been a dominant player at times during UND’s exhibition and first two regular season games, helping to form a dynamic line with sophomore Nick Schmaltz and freshman Shane Gersich.
Boeser, a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, has showed a little bit of everything so far for No. 1-ranked UND.
He can shoot the puck. Against the University of Manitoba, Boeser had the puck on a two-on-one rush and ripped a shot that went off the back bar and out of the net so fast that some in Ralph Engelstad Arena didn’t know whether it was in the net.
“He shoots the puck hard and he shoots it often,” teammate Luke Johnson said.
He can dish the puck. Against Lake Superior State, he made a no-look feed from behind the net with two guys draped on him to an open Schmaltz in front.
“His offensive instincts…,” Berry said, “he has that.”
He hustles and skates hard. Twice in the Ice Breaker Invitational, a teammate iced the puck, but Boeser beat a defender to the dot to waive off the icing.
“That’s a big deal,” Berry said.
Schlossman is a reporter for
the Grand Forks Herald