UND Hockey: Kawaguchi Looking to Make Bigger Impact

Photo Credit: Sin Bin Photography

UND Hockey: Kawaguchi Looking to Make Bigger Impact

NCAA

UND Hockey: Kawaguchi Looking to Make Bigger Impact

Last season, the University of North Dakota hockey team finished 25th nationally in scoring. That translates to 2.92 goals per game. This season, the Hawks are looking to improve their team’s offensive fortunes. One player looking to have a bigger footprint in the offensive statistics is sophomore forward Jordan Kawaguchi.

Before arriving at the University of North Dakota, Kawaguchi was highly regarded. The Abbotsford, British Columbia native spent four seasons with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League scoring 120 goals and 242 points in 213 games. That translates to 1.14 points per game.

Slow Start for Kawaguchi

Early, during his freshman season, Kawaguchi struggled to contribute offensively. In the first 10 games, Kawaguchi scored two goal and three points. There were some growing pains. That wasn’t unexpected, many freshmen struggle during their first season.

As the season wore on, the young forward started making an impact. The points started coming for Kawaguchi, he started contributing offensively.

During the final 14 games of the season, Kawaguchi scored (3g-11a—14pts) and was minus-three. That equates to fourth best in team scoring (during those 14 games).

When the season was over, Kawaguchi had played in 38 of 40 games scoring five goals and 19 points.  Those numbers were good enough for eighth in team points.

Last year, UND failed to make the NCAA tourney for the first time in 15 seasons, and that didn’t sit well with the Hawks players. This summer, during the offseason workouts, the team has kept it simple. Kawaguchi and his teammates worked harder.

“Coming to the rink every day, working that much harder than we did last year,” Kawaguchi said. “We put in the work last year, but I don’t think it was enough. Obviously, it wasn’t. We didn’t make the tournament.

“We definitely did a little bit more this offseason, and during the preseason as well,” Kawaguchi said. “We drove through our workouts. We wanted to make sure that we can get back to where the team was two years ago.”

Even though they didn’t make the NCAA tourney, Kawaguchi enjoyed his first season with UND. The second-year player is aware that there are expectations when you put on the UND sweater.

“I loved it,” Kawaguchi said. “I know we didn’t have the most positive year, but I think if ask anyone, playing for North Dakota it’s always fun. Like I said, we didn’t have the most positive year, but I had fun myself.

“I know the other guys did as well. I think for us, we just want to get back in the tournament and make it that much more fun than we did last year.”

During the past summer, Kawaguchi was one of the few UND players that didn’t attend an NHL development camp. Here’s the reason why.

“No, I didn’t (attend an NHL development camp),” Kawaguchi said. “I stayed here and made sure that I was physically ready. Last year, I wasn’t in shape coming into the season. I wanted to stay here and make sure that I came (to camp) in shape.”

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