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Statistics show Gabe Bast on edge of breakthrough for UND hockey

Colorado College Tigers forward Tanner Ockey (10) gets caught up with North Dakota Fighting Hawks defenseman Gabe Bast (2) as forward Nick Jones (8) defends in the first period. The Tigers hosted the Fighting Hawks in college hockey on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 at The Broadmoor World Arena. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

GRAND FORKS — Defenseman Gabe Bast came to the University of North Dakota with the reputation of having a heavy shot from the point and the ability to add offense.

After missing the first two weeks of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, and taking a few more to adjust to college hockey, the rookie blue liner is starting to do just that.

Bast will take a three-game point streak to this weekend's two-game series against Minnesota Duluth (8:08 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, and 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20).

On top of that, there are signs that he's on the cusp of producing even more offensively.

Bast now ranks second on the team, only behind Christian Wolanin, in shot attempts with 110. That's two more than junior forward Shane Gersich, seven more than defenseman Colton Poolman and 14 more than junior center Rhett Gardner. That means he's getting shots off.

Bast ranks second among defensemen, only behind Wolanin, in percentage of shot attempts that reach the net (50 percent). That means he's getting shots through.

The shots aren't falling right now—Bast has one goal on a wraparound at Colorado College—but history says they'll probably come soon.

Bast's shooting percentage is 1.2 percent. While defensemen shooting percentages are generally lower than forwards, that's the lowest of any UND player in the last decade who has had 50-plus shots on goal in a season. Forward Chris Wilkie was close last season at 1.3 percent.

With Bast's tools—a booming right-handed shot, a strong one-timer and a power-play guy—the points may continue to come for the rookie from Alberta if he stays consistent.

Cam Johnson nabs honor

One week after backup goalie Peter Thome recorded a shutout in a start against Omaha, Cam Johnson stepped back into the net against Bemidji State and earned National Collegiate Hockey Conference goalie of the week honors.

Johnson stopped 46 of 49 shots on the weekend in helping UND to a win and a tie against Bemidji State. The only two goals he allowed Saturday were both deflections—one off of his own defenseman.

It is the third time Johnson has won NCHC goalie of the week. All three times it has been against a nonconference opponent (St. Lawrence, Minnesota, Bemidji State).

Johnson now has a .914 save percentage and a 1.92 goals-against average this season.

Possession teams go head-to-head

When UND and Minnesota Duluth meet this weekend, it will be two of the best puck possession teams in the country going at it.

The Bulldogs rank fifth nationally in Corsi at 55.8 percent and the Fighting Hawks rank sixth at 55.6 percent. Corsi tracks shot attempts by each team to determine which team has the puck most often.

Denver leads the NCHC in that category—and is second nationally—at 58.9 percent.

Bemidji State may have been a good opponent for UND before the Bulldogs. The Beavers rank eighth nationally, and second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, in Corsi at 54.3 percent.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 14th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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