We've been lucky enough the past two weeks at Bucky's Fifth Quarter to have outstanding beat writers Matt Wellens, who covers Northern Michigan, and Stephen Anderson, who covers Michigan Tech join us for our "Take Five" series. This week we've hit the lottery with North Dakota beat writer Brad Elliott Schlossman, (@SchlossmanGF), who covers the Fighting Sioux for the Grand Forks Herald.
As you're already aware, the Badgers were swept last weekend at Michigan Tech, and are looking to bounce back from what amounted to an embarrassing weekend in Houghton.
North Dakota hasn't gotten off to the best start either, splitting the opening weekend with a win against Air Force, and getting blown out by Boston College. Last weekend the Sioux beat Maine on Friday, and tied on Saturday. Although as you would expect, North Dakota is still North Dakota, and expect them to to come out guns blazing tonight
This week I talked to Brad about leadership, goaltending, and a host of other topics. Let's take a look at this series from the Fighting Sioux side.
B5Q: What are your early impressions of this seasons Fighting Sioux squad?
Schlossman: "I think the Sioux are exactly the team I expected early this season. They aren't the powerhouse they were last year. They struggle to sustain offensive pressure for long periods of time like last year. But they have big, physical defensemen and good goaltenders, which will give the an opportunity to win any game. They have a couple of explosive forwards who have been able to give them enough offense to win games. Overall, I think they will be inconsistent early in the season with offense being the big question mark."
B5Q: Danny Kristo, Corban Knight, and Brock Nelson look to be the biggest offensive catalysts for this years Sioux squad. Obviously once Rocco Grimaldi is healthy, he will be as well. Does UND have some other forwards that have the potential to be impact players this season, and possibly as early as this weekend or are they really leaning on the "big 3" ?
Schlossman: "They will definitely lean on the guys you mentioned. But two names to watch of guys you did not mention that could impact this weekend's series are rookies Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan. I think the light went on for Parks last weekend against Maine. MacMillan has been solid, too. Expect both to be top 6 forwards this weekend."
B5Q: Aaron Dell took over the starting job in goal and did a nice job last year, but (stats wise) looks fairly pedestrian so far early this season. Brad Eidsness is probably the most experienced backup in college hockey history. Does Dell still have a strangle hold on the #1 job, and who should we expect to see between the pipes this weekend?
Schlossman: "Dell's still the No. 1 guy, but I think Brad Eidsness will probably start one of the games this weekend. He probably earned another start with his performance against Maine last Friday, stopping 30 of 31 shots. UND was not very good in the first two periods of that game, but Eidsness helped UND steal it. I'd expect to see both of them this weekend."
B5Q: Last year UND had a lot of veteran experience, and some really good leaders. I know it's early, but do you think this team might struggle without leaders like Chay Genoway no longer in the locker room?
Schlossman: "Genoway and his classmates were dominant leaders, but I know that Mario Lamoureux has been one of the most respected players in the locker room since his sophomore season. He could have had a letter last year. While this team isn't as veteran as last year's squad, I think they are very comfortable with the leaders like Lamoureux, Ben Blood, Andrew MacWilliam and Corban Knight, who were all easy choices to be captains."
B5Q: Wisconsin and North Dakota is a great rivalry and this series should be no different. How do you see this weekend playing out? And I don't mean you getting stranded cab-less outside the Kohl Center after the game.
Schlossman: "I'm considering renting a car this time, because I don't know if Taxi Todd Milewski will be there to save me from the Madison streets this year. I think both sides are fairly young, both typically play strong defensively and both may have struggles on the offensive side of the ice early this season. So, I think we'll see two low-scoring games where goals are at a premium, and in the end, we'll have a split."
I can't thank Brad enough for taking the time to help us out. Hopefully he can make at least one stop at Pizza Pit this weekend.