Griffin Ness has arrived in Grand Forks.
On Tuesday, he became the first rookie forward to skate with the UND hockey team this summer.
Ness donned his No. 11 jersey at UND's informal, voluntary summer scrimmage. Fans shouldn't have a tough time remembering that No. 11 isn't Westin Michaud anymore. Ness has some Brock Boeser-like flow going on. His hair escapes his helmet in every direction, making it clear that there's a new person in that jersey this season.
Ness, of Wayzata, Minn., comes to UND with a bit of a Mark Senden pedigree. They both went to the same high school. They both have a history of being two-way players and team leaders. Ness captained the Waterloo Black Hawks the past two seasons.
He didn't waste any time introducing himself, either.
Ness scored the opening goal of the informal four-on-four scrimmage.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward entered the zone, realized he had space, skated the puck to the slot and wired a shot past UND junior goaltender Adam Scheel.
While it's unlikely that Ness will be a candidate to be a top-six forward this season -- only one spot opened up after last season -- his two-way game should help him get on the ice consistently. He showed he has an offensive touch last season, too, tallying 44 points in 45 games in the United States Hockey League.
He continued showing that offensive ability in his first action with his new teammates.
The other two incoming forwards -- sophomore transfer Brendan Budy and USHL MVP Riese Gaber -- are expected to arrive in a couple weeks.
A pair of highlight-reel goals were scoring during Tuesday's skate.
Sophomore forward Shane Pinto, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's rookie of the year a season ago, had the best one of the day.
Skating in on a breakaway, Pinto used his speed to pull away, shifted the puck to his backhand on top of the crease, then put the puck between his legs and shot it past the goaltender.
The other one was a tic-tac-toe play.
UND senior forward Grant Mismash, on the left side, spotted an open Jordan Kawaguchi on the right and threaded a pass. Kawaguchi made a one-time touch pass back to Gavin Hain in the middle. Hain one-timed Kawaguchi's pass to finish it off. There was no hope for the goalie on that one.
Impressive start for Thome
Senior goalie Peter Thome was the story of the first 20 minutes.
Thome allowed the Black Team to take an early 3-0 lead -- Black Team went on to win 7-5 -- by keeping Green Team off the scoreboard for a while.
Thome had several highlight-reel saves in there.
The first one came on a play where rookie defenseman Jake Sanderson hit Kawaguchi back door for a chance. Thome slid right-to-left and got his pad on it, bringing cheers from his teammates.
Moments later, Thome showed some great positioning to shut down Jasper Weatherby on back-to-back chances. On the first one, Weatherby got the puck on top of the crease, but had nothing to shoot at. Then, Weatherby had a backdoor chance, but Thome gloved it.
The third fantastic save came on a backdoor chance for Sanderson.
- Matt Kiersted was outstanding for the second day in a row this week. He is ready to have a big senior season. He's able to control a game from the back end and do so many things to help the team: defend, make subtly good breakout passes, create space with his skating and find teammates. Kiersted made a great feed to set up Collin Adams for a goal Tuesday.
- As you often see in summer hockey, there were several breakaway goals. Senden got one on Harrison Feeney, who attempted a poke-check right as Senden moved the puck to his backhand. Senden easily put it away. Sanderson (yes, he scored again) and Josh Rieger also buried the puck on breakaways.
- Hain scored twice Tuesday. In addition to finishing off the tic-tac-toe goal, he also scored on his backhand, picking up a rebound of his own shot.
- Mismash got on the board late in the scrimmage, taking the puck from the top of the right circle, slicing through the middle and picking the corner of the net from the slot. It was reminiscent of a goal that Kawaguchi scored at Miami last season.
- A couple of local and area players connected for a goal. Ethan Frisch of Moorhead finished off a feed from Grand Forks Central's Judd Caulfield, who had a nice showing.
- Jacob Bernard-Docker continued to show his knack for burying the puck. He got one on Thome.