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Swaney heads back to UMD with plenty of championship equity

Wild prospect has helped Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships in two years in Duluth

by Jessi Pierce / Special to

ST. PAUL -- Nick Swaney couldn't have planned the past couple of years of his hockey career much better. 

A Lakeville native and a byproduct of both Lakeville South and the United States Hockey League's Waterloo Black Hawks, Swaney was drafted by his hometown Wild in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, just prior to joining the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. 

And after two years in Duluth, Swaney is the proud owner of two national championship rings. 

"You couldn't ask for anything better," Swaney said with a grin from ear to ear. "You can't complain too much with any of it. It's been awesome so far." 

In his recent sophomore campaign, he ranked second on the team in goals (15) and fifth in points (25) and was plus-17. He tallied four game-winning goals including a double-overtime winner to help UMD win the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff championship. 

In his two seasons as a Bulldog, the 5-foot-10, 178-pound forward has amassed 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists). 

"I think my game has grown a lot," Swaney said. "I think just the experience and getting bigger, getting stronger and learning how to play every single night and be consistent. I think that's something I really want to try continue grow on. I think consistency is really something I've learned and grown up there."

Providing an offensive pressure and scoring punch has long been Swaney's strongest skillset. Following his third Wild development camp last month, he wants to work toward completing his game by adding the defensive component in addition to working on his strength and speed. 

Being one of the more experienced players at camp, Swaney said it was easier to focus on areas to improve, rather than the nerves that were associated with his first camp two years ago. 

"I was pretty nervous that first camp," he said. "But that one got the jitters out of the way. Now you go through the process and get more comfortable with the staff. We get to check out this great new facility (at TRIA) which is pretty special, but now my focus can really be on improving my game. 

"I am looking to just try and take a little bit of everything I'm learning off the ice and on the ice and try work those into my game and become a 200-foot player. Keep working on my scoring and the little things that are going to make me a complete player." 

Swaney will spend the remainder of his offseason in Lakeville training and "trying to enjoy summer away from the rink." His skills will only continue to improve at UMD, where he will begin his junior season this fall to return for his junior season. 

And he won't shy away from telling you that the end goal is a NCAA championship three-peat. 

"I think the guys coming back, everyone in the room, we all have that mindset of wanting to do it again," Swaney said. "We've been there a couple times now ... Obviously we know it's not easy. But we know with the group of guys we have, we know what we can do and what it takes to be successful, and I'm really looking forward to it and hoping for a good year."

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