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Dylan James shows 'NHL elite speed' in two-goal game against Omaha

The Fighting Hawks rookie scored twice against a goaltender he's knows well.

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UND forwards Nick Portz (20) and Ben Strinden (21) celebrate teammate Dylan James' second period goal during a home men's hockey game against Omaha at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, March 3, 2023.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Dylan James knows a little bit about Omaha goalie Simon Latkoczy.

They went head-to-head in the Clark Cup Final last season in the United States Hockey League. James played for Sioux City. Latkoczy played for Madison.

Game 3 was particularly memorable for James. He scored twice and Sioux City won 3-2.

"So, yeah, I've played him before," James said.

On Friday night, they met for the first time at the college level.


James, a UND freshman, had two scoring chances off the rush. He picked the corner of the net on Latkoczy on both of them and helped the Fighting Hawks come away with a 5-4 overtime win against Omaha.

"I didn't really think of anything from last year and where his weaknesses were," James said of his goals. "I knew he was a good goalie."

James showed why he's a second-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings on both of his goals. He used his skating abilities to pull away from defenders and create space.

"I felt fast today," James said. "Hopefully that will stay the same tomorrow. More confidence at the end of the season. You're playing to win. We just need to keep climbing the ranks here."

James has been at his best in recent games.

He generated three Grade-A scoring chances against Colorado College last Saturday, but was unable to finish on them.

"He's playing with confidence," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We all know he has NHL elite speed, right? At the end of the day, as a freshman coming in here, sometimes, it's a little overwhelming just getting acclimated to the game, knowing how much time you have when you have the puck on your tape. Sometimes, the game overwhelms a young guy a little bit, because it's so tight-checking in our league.

"But now he knows when to chip a puck. He knows when to hang onto a puck. Man, he's a threat off the rush going around defenders. Now he's starting to play with confidence."


UND defenseman Ethan Frisch sees James' speed in practice.

"It's hard to keep up with him when he gets a full head of steam going, when he takes you wide," Frisch said. "It's not easy for a defenseman, so I feel bad for other teams' defensemen when he gets rolling there. It's good to see. I'm glad he's getting his confidence at the end of the year."

That's been a pattern for James. Last season, he also emerged offensively at the end.

James had 24 points in his last 16 regular-season games with Sioux City before leading the Musketeers to the playoff title.

"I usually do play better in the second half," James said, "and I guess I am this year, too."

Quick hits

  • Jackson Kunz scored for the second time in three series, tipping a Ty Farmer shot in. Kunz has started to gain a regular spot in the lineup. "I don't know what it is," he said. "I finally just came to it and started playing my game a little bit, started moving my feet more. Fortunately, I've gotten a few goals here."
  • Jackson Blake has a shot to win the NCHC's scoring title. He enters the final night of the regular season with 29 conference points. He's tied with St. Cloud State's Jami Krannila, one point behind Denver's Massimo Rizzo.
  • For the second-straight game, UND's faceoff numbers turned around big-time at the end of the game. At one point, Omaha led in draws 20-10. But UND finished the game going 25-12 in the dot over the final 34 minutes.
  • UND heavily relied upon its top four defensemen. Tyler Kleven, Chris Jandric, Ethan Frisch and Ryan Sidorski were all over 22 minutes. Farmer was at 13:23. Cooper Moore was at 13:14.
  • The series finale will mark 15-year veteran referee Tom Sterns' final game. He is retiring at the end of the year and will call his final game in The Ralph. Sterns is one of five referees who have been with the NCHC since its inception.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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