The University of North Dakota’s six seniors celebrated Senior Night last night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in a game against Bemidji State.
Corban Knight and Danny Kristo from UND’s first line. Carter Rowney from the second line.
Andrew MacWilliam from the first defensive pair. Joe Gleason from the third defensive pair.
And goalie Tate Maris? From the bench. On Senior Night.
That doesn’t seem fair, but head coach Dave Hakstol had to do what was best for the team. When your team is tied at two late in a hockey game with playoff implications, you don’t put in a walk-on goalie who has not played a single second of regular-season hockey in his four years at UND.
The hope for many fans was that UND would have a big enough lead in the third period that Maris could come in for at least a short amount of time, but that didn’t happen.
Maris is a fan-favorite. He has a fan club on Facebook. When Maris was put in during an exhibition game against the Russian Red Stars last season and against the US Under-18 Team this season, he received a standing ovation from some of the fans. Prior to him entering the game, those same fans chanted, “We want Tate!” And both times, the fans voted him player of the game, despite the fact that he only played one period versus the Red Stars and a little over two minutes versus the U-18 team.
Maris also played the final 7:46 of an exhibition game against the University of Regina on Oct. 11, 2011.
The fans appreciate that Maris has worked hard in practice for four years despite knowing that he might never take the ice. He’s a selfless team player.
And off the ice, he’s hilarious. He cohosts Brad Miller Time with teammate Brendan O’Donnell. His tweets often consist of humor, many times in jest of his lack of playing time. For example, here’s one of his tweets from Feb. 14:
The “active door opener for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux,” as he calls himself on Twitter, also is a talented musician and songwriter. He has played shows in the Grand Forks area and has released two albums, Like Giants and Burn the Ships, both of which can be bought on iTunes.
For a taste, here’s his song “Road Maps Are For Lovers” from Like Giants:
For fans of the well-rounded Maris, there is still hope that he will get the opportunity to play in a game at home. With the tie last night, UND locked up home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
UND could do for Maris what the rival Gophers did last year for their senior goalie Jake Kremer. Kremer had seen no game action his entire time at the University of Minnesota, but on Senior Night, he didn’t get to play because it was a 2-1 game. Fast forward to one week later when the Gophers were hosting Alaska-Anchorage in game two of the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Up 7-3 with 44 seconds remaining, head coach Don Lucia put Kremer into the game to make his collegiate debut.
UND fans can hate the Gophers all they want, but they have to admit that was a classy move by Lucia. A classy move that Hakstol needs to replicate if the opportunity arises next weekend at the Ralph.