GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Michael Parks endured a frustrating sophomore season in 2012-13, an injury-riddle campaign in which he scored just seven goals in 25 games. On Sunday night, Parks flashed the ability he so often showed two years again when he was named UND’s Rookie of the Year.
Playing his physical, high-energy game, the St. Louis native scored one of UND’s three goals and was named the game’s first star as North Dakota picked up a 3-0 exhibition win over the University of Manitoba at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Parks’ goal midway through the first period came just 75 seconds after Drake Caggiula (So., Pickering, Ontario) had opened the scoring. It was a highlight-reel type goal that saw him drive the Manitoba net and beat Bisons goalie Joe Caliguri with a nifty deke.
“I thought he had an excellent night tonight,” UND Head Coach Dave Hakstol said of Parks. “He played a power game, played with speed, took pucks to the net, protected pucks down low…a very good start for Mike Parks.”
Parks, who was named an assistant captain in September, credited an offseason of hard work for his early return to form.
“I spent a lot of time this summer trying to get my body to 100 percent. I think I’m there now and hopefully I can stay there all season,” said Parks.
Freshman forward and Grand Forks native Luke Johnson, one of seven rookie skaters in the lineup for UND, sealed the scoring with an unassisted, shorthanded goal 3:26 into the third period. Johnson was one of nine forwards with at least two shots on goal and Hakstol said he was pleased with what he saw throughout the lineup despite not being able to have a full practice with his team until yesterday.
“I thought we did a lot of good things. Our five-on-five play improved as we went through the game,” said Hakstol. “As expected, I thought we were a little rocky in our specialty teams. We scored the shorthanded goal but we were a little out of sync on the PK. We got the job done. Our power play was a little out of sync.”
UND went 0-for-8 with the man advantage, including a 7-minute power play after Manitoba’s Jory Coates receive a 5-minute checking from behind major and a 2-minute cross-checking minor. But the goals by Johnson, Parks and Caggiula, as well as a combined 17-save shutout by Clarke Saunders (Sr., Brockville, Ontario) and Zane Gothberg (Fr., Thief River Falls, Minn.) were enough to pull out the hard-fought victory.
“Credit Manitoba,” said Hakstol. “They’re coming off two very big games in their building and they come in here and fight their tails off. Manitoba competed hard and we competed hard.”
Parks conceded that the power play would be a point of emphasis leading up to next week’s regular season opener against non-conference opponent Vermont.
“I think we might need a little work on that this week,” said Parks. “Even though we got the win and it feels good we know we have our work cut out for us this week against Vermont. Those are two very important games for us. We had real strong game as a team. It’s good we got the first one out of the way because we had a lot of young guys in there. We’ve had what’s seemed like a long preseason.
“We were just so excited to finally get on the ice and into a game.”
UND and the Catamounts will square off Friday (7:37 p.m. Central) and Saturday (7:07) in Vermont’s first-ever visit to Grand Forks.Notes: UND outshot the Bisons 39-17 and Caggiula led all players with five shots on goal … Saunders started the game and stopped all seven shots he faced in 31:08 of playing time. Gothberg relieved him and made 10 saves on 10 shots … Despite the 3-0 score at the end of regulation, the two teams staged a shootout that served as a dry run for UND’s first season in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which will utilize shootouts during conference games. Parks and Rocco Grimaldi scored for UND, while Gothberg stopped both shooters he faced … Saunders stopped Manitoba’s Jordan DePape on a penalty shot at 6:20 of the second period.