September 9, 2007

North Dakota
So. | F | Moorhead, Minn.

VandeVelde scored seven points in North Dakota's last nine games after notching just two in his first 29 contests.


Key Statistics: VandeVelde was third among rookies in scoring for the Fighting Sioux last season, notching three goals and six assists while skating in 38 of the team’s 43 games. But he hit his stride at the right time, recording seven of his nine points in NoDak’s final nine games of the season as the team made its third straight Frozen Four appearance.

What He Does: VandeVelde is blessed with decent size that allows him to work well low in the offensive zone. Anyone who watched him average more than two points per game for Moorhead High School and lead the Spuds to the 2005 Minnesota State Tournament in St. Paul wasn’t surprised when VandeVelde’s breakout college game came at the Xcel Energy Center. It was on that familiar ice sheet where he lit up St. Cloud State for a pair of goals in the WCHA Final Five last spring, and served notice that his scoring touch hadn’t been lost when he crossed the Red River to play college hockey.

The Bigger Picture: On the northern plains, flipping the calendar page to March means that spring and the season’s related blossoming is on the way. VandeVelde’s first season of college hockey had a March rebirth as well, as he entered the month frustrated, looking for his first collegiate goal and quickly became the team’s playoff surprise. An injury to Matt Watkins prompted North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol to move VandeVelde up to the team’s second line, and the forward responded to the extra ice time with an offensive outburst. Those late-season feats have many betting on VandeVelde to be the man joining reigning Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Duncan and preseason Hobey favorite T.J. Oshie on the top Sioux line when the season starts.

Fighting Sioux coach Dave Hakstol on VandeVelde: “Chris is a guy that we feel can step up. Playmaking-wise, he does a great job up the middle. He’s very efficient down low and strong on faceoffs.”

— Jess Myers