Considering the number of players UND has returning from its top-ranked men's hockey team last season, there is not an abundance of open slots and playing minutes to be filled on the roster this season.
It's almost like the newcomers know that already.
For the first time, all seven UND hockey newcomers were on the ice together Tuesday in Ralph Engelstad Arena. They participated in an informal, voluntary, five-on-five scrimmage with some of their new teammates.
Of the seven newcomers, six of them scored goals.
Brendan Budy, the sophomore transfer from Denver, participated for the first time and scored a goal on top of the crease, prompting a loud cheer from the rest of his squad.
Defenseman Tyler Kleven and forward Griffin Ness each scored twice. Forward Riese Gaber, defenseman Jake Sanderson and defenseman Mitchell Miller each had one goal.
The lone rookie without a goal Tuesday was defenseman Cooper Moore.
While there is risk in drawing too much from summer skates, the rookie class has been showing why it is coming to campus with strong credentials. The group of seven is showing that it intends to compete for playing time and lineup slots with the veteran and more established players who made last season a special one.
On defense, the competition will be fierce.
Sanderson will undoubtedly be in line to see a lot of minutes, but Kleven keeps impressing.
The former Fargo Davies blue liner, Kleven scored the goal of the day Tuesday. He skated the puck through the neutral zone with speed, stepped around Gabe Bast at the offensive blue line, carried the puck to the bottom of the left circle, then quickly zipped around the net and scored on a wraparound. Goalie Adam Scheel moved quickly from right to left on the play, so Kleven didn't have much room to tuck it between Scheel's pad and the post. The fact that he was able to shows what type of hands he possesses.
Miller, who was back home for a couple of weeks, also potted a goal upon his return.
Although the rookies were burying goals Thursday, don't expect the veterans to give up their spots easily.
Sophomore Ethan Frisch had an excellent morning as well. Scheel robbed him of a goal once, but his best play came when he dangled a defender at the blue line and set up a teammate for a tap-in. Behind Jacob Bernard-Docker, things are wide open for competition on the right side.
- Ness continues to be nifty around the net. He scored twice Tuesday, both right around the crease. It remains to be seen how effective he can be at screening a goalie or tipping pucks, but considering his efficiency around the net, you have to wonder if he'll get a look on the second power-play unit if he keeps this up.
- Jordan Kawaguchi scored twice, including a nice wrist shot from the left circle.
- Jackson Keane continued his nice run by picking the corner of the net from the left circle. It didn't look like he had much room to shoot, but Keane found a spot.
- Scheel was under heavy duress at the start of the scrimmage and stood tall by making excellent reads on cross-ice feeds.