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Boeser's hot start

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks
The University of North Dakota is ranked as the top team in the NCAA and Vancouver Canucks prospect Brock Boeser is fueling their charge.

The Canucks’ first round pick in 2015 is off to a sizzling start with five goals and seven points in eight games as North Dakota sits at 6-0-2.

The combination of offensive awareness along with a deadly shot have allowed Boeser to transition to the NCAA much easier than some might have thought.

“Brock has a shoot first mentality,” said North Dakota head coach Brad Berry. “When he gets in the offensive zone he looks for areas to get open where he can get the puck and get it on net. When he shoots the puck he isn’t just trying to get it on the net, he is trying to put it through the back of the net.”

The Burnsville, MN, product is tied for the NCAA lead in goals among freshman, and 10th overall among all skaters. A solid start for an 18-year-old that Berry says has a lot to do with his play without the puck.

“It is a little surprising because for 18-year-olds coming into the NCAA right after high school, they usually take a while to get settled into the league as they are playing against older players,” said Berry. “I think a lot of it has to do with his solid two-way game. He isn’t just a goal scorer. His play away from the puck is tenacious. When he doesn’t have the puck he wants to get it back. He gives up his body to block shots and that is something special for players of that quality.”

It wasn’t all fun for Boeser, as he went the first three games of the season without registering a point. Then, in the fourth game, he became the first North Dakota freshman to record a hat trick since T.J. Oshie in 2005. He followed that up with two goals and two assists in his next three games.

He had arrived.

“He came in here and has done a great job, on and off the ice,” said Berry. “He put the time and work in on his physical training in the summer, which has led to the success he has had so far this season.

“He is a complete 200-foot player. You never have to worry about what situation he is out on the ice in. He is a top-end offensive player, but he also does the right things away from the puck and the right things in his own zone, which leads to some of his offence.”

The Canucks won’t need to rush him. Boeser is playing at one of the top development schools in the NCAA. A program that has produced such NHL players as Oshie, Zach Parise, Drew Stafford, Jonathan Toews and Garry Valk – who could forget Garry Valk!

The Canucks have up to four years to sign him. Though he looks ready to play in the AHL right now, it may be best to leave him be for at least another season, maybe even two. He will only get stronger and better. Time will tell.

North Dakota takes on the Wisconsin this coming weekend.

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