Inside College Hockey (INCH) has named North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol its Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Coach of the Year and sophomore forward Brock Nelson
its WCHA Breakthrough Player of the Year.
|North Dakota Fighting Sioux sophomore forward Brock Nelson. Nelson was selected 30th overall by the Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. |
Hakstol has guided the Fighting Sioux through an injury-plagued season to a fourth-place finish in the WCHA and a No. 12 national ranking heading into the league playoffs. Eight Sioux players have combined to miss 82 games this season due to injury, including preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year Rocco Grimaldi, who has missed all but four games this season. UND also lost sophomore forwards Derek Rodwell and Brendan O'Donnell to season-ending injuries and freshman forward Colten St. Clair to an NCAA eligibility issue.
Despite having played with fewer than 18 skaters seven times, UND clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs for the 10th straight year and reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth time in Hakstol's eight seasons as head coach. The Sioux enter the playoffs having lost just five times in 23 games since Thanksgiving weekend, going 16-5-2 during that stretch.
Nelson led the WCHA with 20 goals during league play and is tied for the league's overall goal-scoring lead with 23. The Warroad, Minn., native became UND's youngest 20-goal scorer since Jonathan Toews in 2005-06 and has increased his point production from 21 points as a freshman to 39 this season.
Nelson also leads the team with four game-winning goals and is tied for the team lead with nine power-play goals.
Hakstol, Nelson and the Sioux hosted Bemidji State this weekend in the first round of the WCHA playoffs with a berth in next weekend's Red Baron WCHA Final Five on the line.