This past weekend, the University of North Dakota hockey team traveled to Oxford, Ohio to play the Miami University RedHawks in the first ever National Collegiate Hockey Conference series.
I was able to interview Dave Starman college hockey analyst for CBS Sports Network. Starman was the color analyst for CBS Sports Network for the game between Miami and North Dakota.
This is what Mr. Starman had to say the historic first weekend.
Eric Burton: what was your impression of the first weekend of play in the NCHC?
Dave Starman: I really loved that North Dakota and Miami game on Friday night, that was a good game. You could certainly see that each team – during the week – talked about things that they wanted to get better at, and you can see where those things happen. You can see the little break downs. Whether it be; not great puck support, or defensive zone coverage, or a guy would miss an assignment. You could see that some of the offensive cohesion wasn’t there.
Both Miami and North Dakota Impress
EB: What was your impression of the Miami RedHawks?
DS: They’re going to be really good offensively. I thought they were good offensively Friday night. I just thought the goaltender from North Dakota (Zane Gothberg) was equal to the task, if not better than the task at hand. I give that kid a lot of credit, he made some game saving stops and was there all-night for them. I know he gave up one really bad one (goal). But the mark of a good goalie is that you can give up a bad goal, at a bad time, and recover from it and shut the door. I thought that was great for North Dakota.
Miami is a team that’s going to come at you in waves. They have that third line with (Jimmy) Mullen and (Cody) Murphy on it – that can knock the hell out of you. Their fourth line is good, because they’re smart. On the back line, I think (Matthew) Caito is as good of a defenseman as they come in the conference. The strength of the Miami team is no doubt their goaltending and their forwards. The big three Sean Kuraly, Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik, they’re going to get a ton of goals and their supporting cast is very good.
EB: What was your impression of North Dakota?
DS: I think Hak (head coach Dave Hakstol) was right on… He said, “we’re a little later.” But I don’t think they’re going to be any less difficult to play against. I think he’s right on. There’s beef in the lineup. There’s also speed in his lineup. I think their defense once they get into the second half – all of the young kids – with the pedigree that they have, I think they’re going to be really good. (Troy) Stecher is a good player, for an under sized kid, he plays hard. I love (Gage) Ausmus, he’s got some upside ability and he’s smooth with the puck.
Up front, they might not have a Danny Kristo in the lineup or Corban Knight in the lineup. That line with Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks and Brendan O’Donnell is going to be solid. All three guys do the same thing, in a very similar way, but they’re not clones of each other. All three of them get to the net. All three can create. All three of them have some physical skill, but they’re not three of a kind. That’s pretty unique on a line. I think that line is going to be pretty good. They’re going to have to ability to do what North Dakota teams have done in the past that they’re going to have the ability to physically knock the hell out of you. They don’t have the big thumper like (Andrew) MacWilliam, but they can still be physically intimidating when play because their compete level is so high.
EB: I was impressed with both teams. I thought both teams had depth, speed grit and goaltending. Do you think that’s an accurate assessment?
DS: I watched the playoffs last year. I thought to myself, I think that North Dakota had a good team. I think the goaltending worries me a little bit. I think both kids are pretty good. I am just wondering if either one of them is an elite stopper. And you know what? This year could prove to be the year that one of them steps forward and does that. I like the physical skills on both of them… I do think there’s depth there… North Dakota’s defensive depth is pretty good. I think they’re a little deeper on the back line than Miami is. I think that Miami is deeper up front. They’ve got a lot of depth through 18 skaters, where they’re tough to beat.
Miami and North Dakota are similar teams
EB: After watching both teams play, do you think they mirror each other?
DS: These two coaches; I mean you can say it about a lot of guys. These two guys specifically, because how close each of them have come to winning a national title and the consistency that they have had getting to the (NCAA) tournament. These are two guys – even though their programs expect a national title: even if they never won a national title, they would still be huge successes as head coaches, because they have developed their players to be either better players, or pro players or where ever the case is, in hockey. The players that don’t wind up playing at the National Hockey League level or even playing pro hockey, wind up going on to be successful, away from the game. I really mean this. These two guys have proven to be exactly what college hockey should be, getting the most of our student athletes from both sides of the equation.
I would like to send my gratitude to Dave Starman for letting me interview him.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.