Freshman Senkbeil settles into role and nicknameGRAND FORKS — When Corban Knight returned to school after summer break, he heard everyone talking about a new freshman named Jim.
By: Brad Schlossman, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — When Corban Knight returned to school after summer break, he heard everyone talking about a new freshman named Jim.
“I had no idea who this Jim kid was,” Knight said. “I thought maybe we got another guy coming in late. But guys were all ‘Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim.”
Finally, Knight asked Mario Lamoureux.
“It’s Dan Senkbeil,” the captain said.
Senkbeil first earned his nickname because defenseman Derek Forbort didn’t know who he was when he arrived on campus and simply referred to him as “Jim.” It stuck.
Senkbeil then inspired a new term around the locker room — jimmering — which refers to a player falling down inexplicably.
“One game, Jim fell down three times in the matter of 20 seconds on his first shift of the game,” goaltender Brad Eidsness said. “One night in the locker room before a game, he fell out of his seat in the home locker room, then knocked over three sticks trying to grab his. There are a lot of Jim stories.”
But throughout the season, Senkbeil has become one of the most popular players in the locker room and has developed into a vital player on the ice for the Sioux, who enter this week’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five with the nation’s best record since Thanksgiving.
Senkbeil, a walk-on freshman defenseman from Fremont, Calif., was moved to forward for the first time in his career in October.
There was an adjustment period, but Senkbeil is getting increased minutes alongside fellow walk-on freshman Connor Gaarder on the fourth line. Since the duo was put together eight games ago, they haven’t been on the ice for a goal against, while both have combined for a plus-6 rating with four points in the past two weeks.
Their line produced two of UND’s four goals during Saturday’s first-round playoff clinching 4-3 win over Bemidji State.
“Both are real key players for us,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “That line has been pretty good for us, giving us some real good minutes and some great shifts night in and night out.
“(Reliability) is probably the first thing you have to get to as a line for players in that position. Teammates have to have confidence that when you’re out there, you’re a reliable player, taking care of the puck and being hard to play against. After you reach that baseline, you can move to the next level, which is where I think these guys are. In a real efficient way, in a low-risk fashion, they are starting to provide offense. That’s the next step we’ve seen in their game.”
Gaarder has scored goals in back-to-back games and now has 10 points — a strong number considering Evan Trupp and Knight had 13 in their rookie years.
Senkbeil has two assists. He hasn’t scored a goal yet, but when he does, expect an eruption from the bench.
“I think we’re all going to be anticipating to see what he does with his celebration — if he can stay on his feet,” Knight joked. “He’s a good team guy and it will be fun to watch him score his first goal.”
Eidsness added: “I think guys are going to be pretty excited. A lot of guys have grown fond of him. He’s found his way onto our team pretty well. We have a really tight group of guys and everybody has a different character. He fits right into that.”
As for the nickname?
Senkbeil said he’s grown into it and is embracing it. In fact, during parents’ weekend, his father introduced himself to the group as “Jim’s dad.”
As for jimmering?
“It’s a verb, I’ll tell you that,” Senkbeil said, laughing. “My first pair of skates this year were the APXs. The first time I tried them, I was always off balance with them so I tended to fall a lot. Now, I’ve got the 7.0, so it’s taken care of. Jimmering is in the past.”
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald,
which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.