The University of North Dakota, known for its historic slow starts, has played well early in the season. Throughout seven games, UND has earned a respectable 5-1-1 record.
One of the stories to emerge this season has been the play of UND freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman. The burly six-foot-four, 210 pound defenseman has played solid defensively and hasn’t looked out of place. Poolman has made an immediate impact with his with physical play on the blue line.
Senior defenseman Nick Mattson has been paired with Poolman five of the last six games and the two defensemen have played well together. Mattson was asked about his new playing partner.
“He’s really a physical freak,” Mattson said. “It would be nice if my dad had his dad’s genes. He can make some pretty special plays with just how big and strong he is out there. It’s hard to stop him. When you’re that dynamic physically you’re going to be able to do some things that others can’t.”
Poolman has proved to be an offensive threat from the blue line. Poolman has scored three goals games in six games this season, tying him for second on the team in goals with fellow defenseman Paul LaDue.
“You see him pinching on walls, on pucks and he just blows through forwards,” Mattson said. “He really uses his size to his advantage and he has an offensive side to his game.”
UND’s forwards are noticing Poolman’s efforts
“Tuck, he’s kind of an all-around player,” sophomore forward Luke Johnson said. “As you guys have seen, he’s pretty offensive. He’s pretty sound defensively, too. I am very confident in him too, on the back-end, in our zone. I feel he’s going to compete and do whatever it takes to get a puck out, or block a shot.”
Poolman’s play hasn’t gone unnoticed by UND head coach Dave Hakstol. Here’s what the head coach said about his freshman defenseman.
“I think he’s doing good things,” Hakstol said. “We’re seeing some of his natural ability offensively. We knew that was there. I like the confidence that he’s showing in bringing that to the forefront. One of the things we saw on Saturday night was a guy that was willing to go out and try to make a difference.
Hakstol continued, “We didn’t have a great first half to that hockey game. We were working hard, but we just couldn’t get anything to go our way. He was one of the guys that I thought kind of made a mental decision to go out push the envelope and try to turn the game around. As it turns out, he ends up scoring the first goal and that was key for us.”
Catching up with Tucker Poolman
I had an opportunity to catch up with Poolman and I asked him about his decision to go to UND.
“For me, this was the school that I always wanted to go to,” Poolman said. “From a young age, this was what I wanted to do. When the opportunity presented itself I took it right away. I was very happy to do so.”
Poolman has played six of UND’s first seven games, and I asked him to give me his opinion on how he’s played so far.
“It’s going okay,” Poolman said. “(There’s) room for improvement, but I think I am slowly getting used to the team game and understanding everything.”
Finally, I asked Poolman what it’s like playing with senior defenseman Nick Mattson.
“It’s been great. He’s an older guy – a senior – kind of showing me the ropes, (he’s) been there before. Pretty calm out there, it’s something I can learn from a lot.”
In conclusion, Tucker Poolman has been a nice addition to the UND blue line. It would appear that his teammates and coaching staff are happy with his play as well.
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.