August 22, 2005

Minnesota Duluth
So. | W | Halkirk, Alta.

McKnight led UMD freshmen in scoring
with six goals and 13 assists
and was named the team's Rookie of the Year.


Key Statistics: Despite missing nearly a fifth of his rookie season nursing various ailments, McKnight led UMD freshmen in scoring with six goals and 13 assists. Logging extensive time on special teams, he tied for the team lead in shorthanded goals with two and also scored three power play goals en route to being named the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year.

What He Does: As a freshman on a senior-dominated team that failed to live up to lofty expectations and experienced some off-ice turmoil, part of McKnight’s role as a rookie was to be the voice of reason at times in the locker room. Coach Scott Sandelin talks of McKnight’s “calming presence” off the ice and his “smartly aggressive” play on the rink, and may reward those traits by pinning an ‘A’ on McKnight’s sweater for his sophomore campaign.

The Bigger Picture: For this somewhat lanky, soft-spoken kid, it’s easy to look back on his rookie year and see missed opportunities, not only individually but as a team. The Bulldogs’ slide from the No. 1 ranking in the nation to the lower half of the WCHA had already begun in late November when McKnight was checked hard into the boards in St. Cloud and missed five games with a separated shoulder. He said he never really got his timing back the remainder of the season, but has spent the summer on the ice working hockey camps and getting healthy. On a roster that’s gone from having 12 seniors last year to a record 11 freshmen this year, his leadership may be as important as goals and assists.

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin on McKnight: “For a freshman, he had a very consistent year. The peaks and valleys weren’t way up or way down. Six goals doesn’t look like a lot, until you remember that Junior (Lessard) had four his first year.”

— Jess Myers

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