A chat with UND freshman forward Jake Schmaltz
The rookie from the Madison area won the NCHC's rookie of the week honor after scoring twice in UND's Penrose Cup-clinching win.
GRAND FORKS — UND forward Jake Schmaltz scored two goals last Friday in UND's Penrose Cup-clinching victory at Omaha. He earned the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's rookie of the week honor and spoke with the Herald this week about a number of topics.
Q. You guys won the Penrose Cup last weekend as NCHC champs. It is better known as the Penne Rosa among the players, a nickname your cousin, Jordan, gave it in 2015. Do you remember when he started calling it that?
A. Yeah, I remember him joking about it. I don’t think anyone expected it to stick, but it did. He’s just a funny guy. He’s clever and witty with those things. I’m glad it stuck, because that’s pretty funny. It’s funny getting those texts about the Penne Rosa.
Q. Did you hear from Jordan or Nick after winning it?
A. They congratulated us. They’re super happy for us. They just said that it’s a really great accomplishment — one of the hardest trophies to win — but it’s on to the next one. We’ve got to put that one behind us and work for the next one.
Q. Can you match what Nick has done this week (11 points in two games)?
A. That would be pretty hard to get that on fire. I’m happy for him. He was hurt early in the year. He came back and it’s been going great for him, so I’m just happy and excited for him, because he’s earned it.
Q. What’s it like heading into your first college playoffs?
A. It’s a lot of excitement. We’ve all pulled together and we just want to work hard for each other. Now, it’s do or die. We’re excited to work hard for each other.
Q. How are you feeling physically at this point in the season?
A. I feel good. I’m just pumped. It’s hard getting tired when you’re playing in front of these fans and playing in these environments. It’s just excitement. We’re all pumped up. I’m fired up. I feel good.
Q. You’ve seen Colorado College four times now. What are your thoughts on the Tigers?
A. We know they’re a super hard-working team. They’re going to come in here and they’re going to be flying, so we’ve got to bring it like we have in past weekends and just work hard and do our thing.
Q. You’ve gotten a lot better in the faceoff circle. Why?
A. Just working with Jason Ulmer and working with (Connor) Ford. Those guys are so good and they give you a lot of tips. I think it’s just taking pride in owning the dot and trying to win every battle. It’s just going in with that mindset of winning every battle. I think that’s helped me a lot. I wasn’t great at the start, but I’m trying to give it everything I’ve got to win that first battle.
Q. When did you realize that those are big battles?
A. I think after playing some of these NCHC teams, how much pride everyone takes in every single faceoff. . . when they drop it, it’s a war for that puck right off the drop. It’s really competitive. It’s fun, though.
Q. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Grand Forks?
A. I’ve been going to House of Punjab recently. I know coach (Brad) Berry told me to go there and check that out. I’ve been hooked on that. Red Pepper is always a go-to on a Sunday. But I try not to eat too much of that because it’s kind of deadly.
Q. What’s your order at House of Punjab?
A. Chicken Biryani.
Q. What’s one restaurant Grand Forks needs to get?
A. New Orleans Takeout (in Madison). They closed down a little bit ago, but if they could somehow bring that back and get that down here. . . From Madison, I’m a huge fan of Chin’s Asia Fresh. I mean, I’m going there two, three times a week. That’s my spot.
Q. What’s your favorite movie?
A. Anything with Will Ferrell cracks me up. I could throw in Miracle if you’re looking for a hockey movie. That’s always a classic.
Q. What’s your favorite TV show?
A. Yellowstone. A lot of the guys told me to get into that and I binged that in like a week. It was ridiculous.
Q. If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A. Besides Grand Forks? Maybe Hawaii. Might be a cliche answer. But that’s a good spot.
Q. Is your favorite actor Will Ferrell then?
A. Yeah, that guy makes anything funny.
Q. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would you choose?
A. Will Ferrell, again. That guy would just be funny. Adam Sandler would be funny. He seems like he’s a down-to-earth guy. And maybe Dave Chappelle, too. I think that guy’s got a lot of opinions and he’d be pretty funny.