UND goalie Scheel learned how to shoulder a heavy workload with Penticton
GRAND FORKS — When the Penticton Vees hit the stretch run in the British Columbia Hockey League last season, they repeatedly started goaltender Adam Scheel.
Scheel made 19 starts in the span of 51 days — an average of one start every 2.68 days.
The move paid off.
Scheel went 15-3-1 in those starts as his injury-plagued Vees team charged past Vernon in the standings to win to a division championship.
The University of North Dakota hockey team is hoping for a repeat this season.
With sophomore goalie Peter Thome out longterm with an upper-body injury, Scheel is about to shoulder a heavy workload down the stretch for the Fighting Hawks.
Scheel, a rookie from Lakewood, Ohio, is the only healthy goalie on the roster with college experience.
His backups are senior walk-on Ryan Anderson, who has only appeared in exhibition games to this point, and freshman walk-on Harrison Feeney, who was just added to the team roster this week.
“Nothing changes,” Scheel said. “You come to the rink every day and you work your hardest. You prepare for the weekend. It’s the same as every week. It’s a tough circumstance for Peter being injured, but it could be a good opportunity for me. I’m just trying to make the best of it.”
The heavily workload shouldn’t bother Scheel after his experience last season.
Even if he starts every game the rest of the regular season, it would be 14 games in 51 days — an average of one start every 3.64 days. That’s far less than what he did a year ago.
“It was a good experience,” Scheel said of playing in Penticton. “I think it was the first time I’ve ever rolled like that and played a lot of games. It was a good experience all around.
“A lot of times, it’s about what you do off the ice — recovery, stretching, doing what you have to do with the trainer.”
Prior to Penticton, Scheel spent two years with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Dylan St. Cyr, now at Notre Dame, started the majority of games over Scheel in both of those seasons with the U.S. Under-17 and U.S. Under-18 teams.
Scheel could have gone to school in the fall of 2017 like most of his NTDP teammates, but he decided to spend one more year in juniors.
“Sometimes, patience is the best thing to do, and that’s what Adam did,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “Getting to go to Penticton and being the guy and playing 60-plus games and going deep in the playoffs, that experience is very beneficial. Now, (Scheel) has to rely on it going forward with us.”
Scheel has been sharp this season for UND, starting 16 of the team’s 21 games. Among rookie goaltenders, he ranks second nationally in wins (10), second in goals-against average (1.97) and fifth in save percentage (.907).
He has some big wins under his belt, too, including ones over No. 3 Denver, No. 5 Minnesota Duluth, No. 6 MSU-Mankato and rivalry victories over Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low,” Berry said. “He’s very composed and calm in the net. He has a lot of confidence with the puck, playing the puck. Whether we’re up or down in games, there’s not a variance or panic or nervousness. He remains even-keeled and makes big saves at big times.”
Feeney arrives in Grand Forks
New UND goalie Harrison Feeney arrived in Grand Forks on Tuesday night, Jan. 15, and has already started to acclimate to his new surroundings. Itt is unlikely he will make the trip to Omaha for this weekend’s National Collegiate Hockey Conference series, though.
“He seems to be a really good guy,” Scheel said. “He seems comfortable already. A lot of the older guys are doing a really good job bringing him in and showing him the ropes. We’re just going to make him part of our group here.”
UND was originally recruiting Feeney to replace the graduating Anderson next season, but the Fighting Hawks bumped up the timeline because of Thome’s injury.
“We’ve watched him extensively,” Berry said. “We were planning on bringing Harrison Feeney in to replace Ryan Anderson at the end of the year when his eligibility will be exhausted. We not only like the way he plays, but we like his character. To be in that position that Ryan Anderson is in, that (Feeney) is going to fill, you have to be a special person and check a lot of boxes. He did.”
Although his junior team, the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League, is losing its starting goaltender midseason, the Brahmas were supportive of Feeney’s move.
“We are incredibly proud of Harrison,” Brahmas owner Frank Trazzera said in a statement. “He has been an exemplary leader on and off the ice for our team and we have no doubt he will continue to excel. We are looking forward to watching his continued success as his career progresses.”