First Denver, then St. Cloud State, and now Minnesota-Duluth — the third consecutive NCHC team to be named CHN Team of the Week (check out the full story here).
UMD was dominant on special teams, scoring three power play goals and two shorthanded goals during the weekend sweep of the defending national champions, North Dakota. In Saturday’s 3-0 shutout in particular, the Bulldogs were dizzying to watch (just check out the beautifully worked shorthanded goal by Kyle Osterberg with less than a minute to play in the period, as an example).
I spoke with UMD senior Alex Iafallo yesterday, who played a big role in UMD’s weekend sweep — the first time North Dakota had been swept in a weekend series since St. Cloud State pulled off the feat in November 2013.
Iafallo, the NCHC Offensive Player of the Week, scored his first career hat-trick in Friday’s 5-2 win and added an assist in each game as well. The senior from Eden, N.Y., has been remarkably consistent through his career in Duluth — scoring 22 points as a freshman, 25 as a sophomore, and 23 as a junior.
He already has nine points — through eight games — this season, his senior campaign. Yesterday, he spoke about his outlook for the season, both from an on-ice production standpoint, as well as leadership.
“I just kind of want to keep the path going,” said Iafallo. “I want us to play as good as we can every night. It’s not all about points, but I have to do my role, and make sure I’m ready every night — whether it’s a 200-foot game, or scoring goals. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready.”
Many think of UMD as the nation’s top team now, and the Bulldogs certainly won’t be overlooked the rest of the way — trying to make their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
And perhaps it’s never too early to play with a tournament mindset.
Continued Iafallo, “From the team aspect, we want to play every game like it’s our last. That’s how I’m approaching this season leadership-wise and make sure everyone’s working hard, on and off the ice.”
Clearly, Iafallo is a player to watch for the rest of the season — a key component to what is shaping up to be a well-balanced offensive attack for UMD.