UMD sophomore Oberg ahead of the curve
Evan Oberg considers himself something of a veteran as a sophomore, but the truth is, he's still learning. Minnesota Duluth's hockey defenseman from Forestburg, Alberta, sat out two months of his freshman season with a broken leg and is continuin...
Evan Oberg considers himself something of a veteran as a sophomore, but the truth is, he's still learning.
Minnesota Duluth's hockey defenseman from Forestburg, Alberta, sat out two months of his freshman season with a broken leg and is continuing to regain the form that made him a star in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
UMD's most recent games, two weeks ago at home with No. 8-ranked Denver, were Oberg's best of the season, his coaches said. The No. 14-ranked Bulldogs (15-9-6) open a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series today at Michigan Tech (5-21-6) in Houghton, Mich.
"Confidence is the most important thing for me, and after not playing for so long last year, I had to take a lot of small steps," said Oberg, who is 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than last season. "Confidence allows me to slow things down, so that I have time with the puck to make a play and not rush things.
"I look at what I do every weekend and evaluate my weaknesses, and then work on those things. I'm working most of the time on strength and defensive position."
Oberg, 21, played two seasons with Camrose (Alberta) and started well as a UMD freshman as the Bulldogs went 4-1-1 in his first six games. But in an accident at practice, he fractured his leg and considered a medical red-shirt season, before eventually choosing to return for the final 18 games.
This season he's part of a young defensive corps that includes sophomores Mike Montgomery (a converted forward) and Chad Huttel, freshmen Brady Lamb and Scott Kishel, junior Trent Palm (who has missed time with a congenital hip problem) and seniors Josh Meyers and Jay Cascalenda.
Oberg has six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 30 games this season, compared to three points in 24 games last season. Five goals have come on power plays.
"Evan's a smart hockey player with offensive ability and an edge to his game," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "He's very competitive and by putting him in a lot of situations, the end result is a pretty good player."
Sandelin moved Oberg to his forehand side on power plays against Denver and the defenseman responded with a goal in a 4-2 victory. He had three points in a 6-5 home win over Western Michigan on Oct. 18.
As he's improved, the undrafted player has drawn the interest of NHL teams.
"He's a heads-up defenseman who makes crisp passes and can find a seam, see the lane and shoot the puck," said UMD assistant Brett Larson, a former Bulldog defenseman.
And by game experience, Oberg is barely into his sophomore season.