North Dakota Hockey Season Recap

The Young Hawks Will Bring Back Experience Next Season

GRAND FORKS ND – Coming into the season, the 9th youngest NCAA hockey team in the nation fighting hawks were forced to meet high expectations quickly and learn on the fly

“This was a year where our young guys probably got more opportunity than in a normal year and they made the most of it and at the end of the day you know they grew, they grew some whiskers this year they grew into young guys I think into young men here and I think it’s a situation where we had a lot of adversity thrown at us and guys know how to deal with it now and guys have got a taste of the post season and the national tournament and we wanna keep moving forward here with the group and build this group over the next 3 or 4 years together to have success, ”said Coach Brad Berry.

Despite their North Dakota went into the NCAA tournament ranked 7th in the nation. While many key players will return two stars have played their final games for the program. Grad transfer Zach Driscoll’s eligibility is now up while sophomore Jake Sanderson will be joining the Ottawa senators despite only playing in 23 games this season, Sanderson leaves a strong legacy.

“When you’re a 5th overall pick you always kind of think maybe one year, two years hopefully. He went past the one year and stayed two and I just feel so bad for him because like I said, people haven’t really seen the true Jake Sanderson in a full year of hockey, that was out of his control but at the end of the day he was such a team first guy, his legacy will be that elite talent but North Dakota mentality all the way, ”said Berry.

The rest of the defense will be back however.

“All seven of the eight, everyone except Sanderson. So again like I said its situations where you wanna get ahead of it but you wanna be respectful but there are situations where players do have options you know I think at the end of the day where you have parents and players and coaches and I know some days in this world, advisors at some point to you wanna make an informed decision its an important decision, the timing of when to leave, ”said Berry.

The fighting hawks will replace Driscoll with another experienced goaltender in drew Deridder who signed Wednesday.

“At the end of the day where you absolutely have to be strong, we’re finding out you have to be experienced too. Obviously I think Jakob Hellsten is a very good goaltender for us he’s growing in his game and he’s gonna push for playing time as well but at the end of the day having an experienced goaltender whos already played a college schedule for four years is something you really need to have a strong team, ”said Berry.

Deridder started 70 games during his four-year career at Michigan State, earning a pair of all-big ten honorable mention selections and was a finalist for the league’s goaltender of the year award as a junior.

Deridder was on the Mike Richter watch list each of the past two years and finished with a .918 save percentage this winter for Michigan State.

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