Trio of Rookies Ready to Take the Ice for UND

Fall is officially here, the 2015-16 college hockey season is almost upon us. During the 2015-16 season, 10 freshmen will make their debut with UND. As I mentioned in another post , UND lost 45% of their scoring from last year due to graduation and early departures.

This season’s freshman class includes high-end forwards Brock Boeser (35g-33a—68pts) and Chris Wilkie (35g-20a—55pts) led the United States Hockey League in goals last season with 35. Fellow freshman Shane Gersich (27g-23a—50pts) finished 20th overall in the USHL for scoring.

During the UND hockey media day, I had an opportunity to chat briefly with the trio of rookies ready to take the ice for UND (player’s name and hometown).

(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Forward Brock Boeser, Burnsville, Minnesota

Boeser was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Eric Burton, The Hockey Writers: You had a heck of a summer. Can you give us a rundown on how it went?

Brock Boeser: This summer was crazy. I went from the Combine to the draft and to the development camp. The draft by itself was an experience and a dream come true.

EB: Can you tell us about your development Camp with the Canucks?

BB: Development camp was a week long, definitely had to put your work in. There were a lot of activities. It was neat getting to meet some of the other guys and the coaching staff.

EB: You were highly recruited, you had a lot of different teams looking at you. Why did you pick North Dakota?

BB: First, the coaches – I have a great relationship with all of them when they were recruiting me. Second, the facilities – to offer everything they have for development. It’s perfect.

Third, the tradition here and the fans, obviously, they like hockey up here.

EB: When coach Hakstol left for Philly, not one player decommitted. Can you explain that?

BB: Definitely, not a problem, when I heard he was the head, coach. He’s coached in the NHL and stuff before. So, I think that he will keep things the same.  I think we will continue to have a great tradition here.

EB: Do you feel you can make and immediate contribution to the offense?

BB: Definitely a hole to fill, based on the older guys that left. I think all of the freshmen coming in here can definitely help out the team. We all work super hard. I think if we just come to the rink and work hard and get better every day that will help the team out.

Forward Chris Wilkie, Omaha, Nebraska

Wilkie was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the sixth round (162nd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Eric Burton, The Hockey Writers: UND lost a lot of offense from last season. Do you feel you can make an immediate contribution to the offense?

Chris Wilkie: Obviously, we have a big group of freshmen this year that are going to have to step in and contribute this season. All of us are prepared and ready to do that and provide for the team.

EB: Why did you pick UND?

CW: I picked UND because of the traditions and the national championship. We’re all aware that UND hasn’t won a title since 2000. We’re all working towards putting up another banner.

Right away, stepping into this rink and seeing how incredible it is, along with all the other facilities. The coaching staff is unbelievable. I don’t think any staff can top what we have here.

EB: UND lost 45% of its scoring last season. Do you feel pressure to contribute right away?

CW: I think maybe a little pressure, but not a whole lot. We’re all confident enough in ourselves as a group that we can all provide for the team and be good contributors. Not only the freshmen but the whole team. We have a great leadership group and upperclassmen that have been helping us along the way. Hopefully, it’s the start of a good year.

EB: When coach Hakstol left for Philly, and not one player decommitted. Did you reconsider your commitment to UND?

CW: We’re all comfortable with coach Berry because we’ve gone through the recruiting process with him since he’s come back as an assistant coach. We all feel he’s a great coach and is going to do a great job leading this team.

Shane Gersich (Tom Sorensen)
Shane Gersich (Tom Sorensen)

Forward Shane Gersich, Chaska, Minnesota

Gersich Was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the fifth round (134th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Eric Burton, The Hockey Writers: How the preseason workouts going? Have the coaches been on the ice with the players yet?

Shane Gersich: We’ve been out on the ice a little bit with the captains. They’ve been kind of running practice. The coaches have jumped on the ice as well. They’re limited to two hours per week. So far it’s been good.

EB: UND lost 45% of its scoring last season. Do you feel pressure to contribute right away?

SG: There’s a big group of us coming in and I think we’re prepared if we have to jump into that role right away. I think we will just go from there.

EB: Can you tell me why you picked UND?

Just the culture and tradition… Obviously, touring the rink was an added bonus. For me, just the way they play hard and how they develop players.

EB: When coach Hakstol left for Philly, not one player decommitted. Did you reconsider your commitment to UND?

I think he’s done a great job. Throughout the recruiting process, we talk to him. You don’t talk to the head coach. You get to know him throughout that. He’s played at the highest levels. He kind of knows what it takes to get there.