They lined up for the opening faceoff Tuesday morning.
Jordan Kawaguchi stood on the right side. Grant Mismash was on the left. Collin Adams skated into the middle of the circle.
This was just an informal, four-on-four summer scrimmage in Ralph Engelstad Arena, an event where line combinations aren't consistent, but for at least a few shifts, that trio was back together trying to recreate some of the chemistry they displayed a season ago.
It took one shift.
It was a lengthy one, but it ended with a goal -- a flashback to what made them so successful during UND's Penrose Cup-winning 2019-20 season.
Mismash zipped around the left circle, protecting the puck on his backhand. As he reached the top of the circle, Adams drove to the net to clear out a defender. When Mismash arrived in the high slot, he had the space to move it to his forehand and pick the corner of the net on goalie Adam Scheel.
Mismash added a second goal on a rebound, while Adams tallied one on a rocket from the right circle. The scrimmage ended in a spirited 6-6 tie.
Kawaguchi, Adams and Mismash will all be seniors this season and their line will be the only consistently used unit the Fighting Hawks have the ability to recreate.
The loss of Westin Michaud to graduation means there will be a new member of the second line. The loss of Cole Smith to graduation means Gavin Hain and Mark Senden will need to find a new partner if they are to continue their magic of the past two seasons.
As the season nears, the scrimmages will return to five-on-five and the opportunities will increase for Kawaguchi, Adams and Mismash to build on their chemistry.
Their resumes were great a year ago.
Kawaguchi was a Hobey Baker Award top-three finalist by scoring 15 goals and tallying 45 points. He also was named the national player of the year by USCHO and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference forward of the year. Adams, who had seven goals and 15 points during his first two seasons at UND, blew those totals away as a junior, tallying 12 goals and 28 points. Mismash had eight goals and 20 points.
Can they do it again?
Why Weatherby's goals were notable
Two players had multi-goal scrimmages Tuesday.
One was Mismash, the other was Jasper Weatherby, whose tallies were notable.
It's not that he scored, it's where he scored.
The first was on a T.J. Oshie-like, top-shelf backhand from the high slot. The other came on a play where he was camped off to the side of the crease and re-directed a Matt Kiersted pass behind the goalie.
One of the question marks heading into the season is where power-play coach Karl Goehring will be using Weatherby this season.
A year ago, Weatherby played the bumper spot in the high slot -- the area where he scored the backhand goal Tuesday. But UND is bringing in rookie Riese Gaber, the United States Hockey League MVP who played the bumper spot last season for the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Goehring may not want to change up what was working on the power play, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Gaber gets a look at playing that spot.
Meanwhile, UND needs a replacement for the goal-line spot on the first unit with the graduation of Michaud. Could Weatherby be a candidate there? The goal he scored Tuesday was one sign, albeit a small one, that he could click in that spot.
The other three spots on that top unit are likely secure to start the year: Jordan Kawaguchi on the right side, Shane Pinto on the left and Kiersted up top. Weatherby scored from the two other spots Tuesday.
Stickhandling on display
Two player whose hands appear to have made noticeable jumps from last season are Kiersted and Pinto.
Both Kiersted and Pinto are getting nifty with the way they can stickhandle through opponents. Yes, it's easier in the summer when there's no hitting, but both have definitely improved that area from last season.
Kiersted scored the prettiest goal of the day.
After a lengthy period of time without a goal for either team, Kiersted decided to do it himself, stickhandling through all four opponent defenders, getting a shot off from the top of the crease and scoring on his own rebound.
- Cooper Moore scored for the first time this summer. He beat Harrison Feeney from in tight. It appeared he had another tap-in coming on a tic-tac-toe passing play, but either Feeney or a defender somehow got a stick in the way. It was one of those plays where you need to rewatch the replay four times to see how it didn't go in.
- Judd Caulfield stayed hot, scoring on a breakaway. Pinto also buried a breakaway goal.
- Freshman defenseman Tyler Kleven used his heavy shot to score, picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skating into the offensive zone and picking a corner.
- Carson Albrecht got the benches buzzing, turning around Weatherby, who was playing defense on a shift, and scoring on a rush.
- Rookie Griffin Ness scored again on a two-on-one to end the scrimmage.