Panzarella the latest to capably fill a role for North Dakota in a critical situation

Senior defenseman Andrew Panzarella played in just eight games this season before being forced into the lineup for the West Regional final because of illness (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

Illness had struck North Dakota, and the name that was called to fill a void in the lineup was welcomed with confidence.

Andrew Panzarella skated in warmups before North Dakota played St. Cloud State in the NCAA West Regional for a spot in the Frozen Four.

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It wasn’t a familiar routine for him. The senior hadn’t played since Jan. 24 and didn’t have any goals to his name all season — until posting North Dakota’s first goal of the night in an eventual 4-1 victory.

Although his lack of playing time limited his ability to tally points, Panzarella said his teammates made the transition simple and he planned to put the puck in the net before he even stepped on the ice.

“I think it’s always part of the plan,” Panzarella said with a smile. “It’s hard to execute, obviously, but it felt great.”

North Dakota hadn’t necessarily planned on putting the Washington, D.C., native in the lineup over the weekend until the absence of defenseman Keaton Thompson left a spot that needed to be filled.

It also hadn’t expected to fill the gap left by one of its leading scorers, Mark MacMillan, on senior night against St. Cloud State in late February when he suffered a season-ending lower-body injury.

But that’s what happened. Still, North Dakota players responded in a way they have been accustomed to after other skaters were unavailable throughout portions of the season.

Panzarella stepped in the moment he was called and served as a critical piece of UND’s efforts that night, showcasing the team’s depth.

“I’m not going to claim it as specific to our team, but do I think that’s in our locker room? Absolutely,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s a real common trait or theme of this group.”

North Dakota’s next opponent will be Boston University at TD Garden in the Frozen Four on April 9. Panzarella’s playing status for Boston isn’t certain, but whether he’s called upon or not, he’s known for setting the tone for North Dakota.

“He’s not in our lineup all that much, but his work ethic, the type of teammate that he is, those are the things that set the bar,” Hakstol said. “It was not by accident that he could step into a situation like [Saturday night] and be successful. That’s not easy, especially when you haven’t been in the lineup on a consistent basis, or you haven’t been in the lineup lately. That says all you need to know about the amount of extra work that young man does.”

For a Boston-bound team advancing to its 21st Frozen Four in school history, a capable roster no matter the situation has served it well.

North Dakota knows what it can and can’t control. For the things it can, it’s striking with a strong mindset of capturing the prize it fell just short of last year.

“We came in with a purpose; that purpose is still in front of us,” Hakstol said. “It’s a huge challenge, but it’s a real exciting one that I know our group is going to be excited to attack.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. Nice article. From what I’ve heard 17 players were sick on the team with a few throwing up and needing IV’s before the game. Talk about a gutty effort. Let’s go get #8 boys!

  2. On a non-hockey note… Is an athletics nickname anywhere in site. A time-frame of June? was mentioned during the Fargo regional. Any leaders yet?

    • Something that the very PC types have missed out on is that now the unofficial nickname of “Fighting Sioux” has become a counter-culutral event. The more they fight the name, the more it will be invoked by those who seek to “Fight the Man.”
      You can rename the team, but it will be ignored now as the mantra has been established. Funny that a modern leftist university president has “Become the Man”.

      • I don’t live in ND, so It’s none of my business. But I just don’t understand the agenda behind the name-change. A bit too far over the top in common sense or reality to me. I loved the Fighting Sioux, loved the unis. But then, I like the new ones too.

        • The problem with the name change is quite simple. The NCAA forced this upon the University. There is overwhelming majority in the state to keep the name. I am not excluding the two Tribes either. Both Tribes want the name to stay. One Tribe voted on it and the other was not allowed to vote because of the Chairman of that specific Tribe. It’s a darn shame it happened in the fashion it did, but people need to move on. I will always cheer on as if the name was still here.

          • I hope they just keep using North Dakota. There will never be another name that the alumni will get behind at least not yet, so I hope they just stay the course and they can address the name again in the future. I wonder if there is an outcry from the student body or the athletes that there isn’t a name? Because from what I can tell the alumni certainly don’t care and prefer North Dakota to some other option.

    • They are taking suggestions from the public for a few weeks and then the committee will narrow it down to 3 finalist and then I think the public will get to vote on that. If I had to guess right now I think that the options of staying just North Dakota would be the top option as too many people have stated and continue to state that if they can’t have the Fighting Sioux name, then they prefer no name at all. And from what I understand it sounds like staying North Dakota is an option.

        • Yeah I love the new look and frankly fall into the camp that there is no name that I would get behind unless they brought back the Fighting Sioux so I am happy to keep it as is.

          • I have heard that uniform sales of the old Brien designed logo are still thorugh the roof. Hence the administrations panicky desire to rename the team as soon as possible to try and wish away the Fighting Sioux identity.
            But even if they rename the team to something amazingly PC like “The North Dakota fighting Tofu’s” or some such the fighting Sioux logo will still populate every other body in the Ralph and scattered campuses around the country. THAT is what they are fighting with this bums rush to rename the team.

  3. An even bigger joke is Denver can’t use “Pioneer” on their unis, ice or arena. Along with that the beloved Boone mascot is not allowed in the arena anymore. Seriously, how did “Pioneer” become offensive and to whom and who bought into this crap? I suspect it’s the same marginally native crowd that protests Columbus day. Don’t they realize their forefathers were pioneers also? Bring back the Boone!

    • I have Native Americans from 3 different nations in my family. They love the Fighting Sioux name, logo and heritage as much as I. It is (mostly) the lily white liberals of European descent who complained about the Sioux logo…

      • Yeah, you always have people who will complain about anything. It was DU’s AD and Chancellor who caved to a few..what sissies.

      • I follow lacrosse nearly as much as hockey… Syracuse and UAlbany (with 3-4 this year) have recruited NY State and Canadian Iroquois Nation students for years. UDenver has at least one Native American on their roster as well. Unfortunately, some unjustified reluctance about Lyle and Myles Thompson winning the co-Tawearton Award existed there… I can tell you, those “lily-whites” just aren’t all liberals.
        It was pretty cool when both accepted the award in their traditional (albeit it conservative) native dress, and not in suits!

      • I think I can prove that the controversy was contrived by the liberals to needlessly stir up trouble.
        Since they say using the Fighting Sioux nickname and identity denigrates the Sioux nation and that cannot be allowed.
        Then simply rename the team in honor of the US 7th Cavalry regiment that patrolled North Dakota in the 1870-90’s and call the team the “Cav.”
        Within minutes the same poeple who campaigned agains the Fighting Sioux name as insulting will pull a 180 degree turn and conclude that the naming of the team for the Cavalry which was the Sioux adversary will by an unacceptable honorific for an evil enemy of humanity.
        But they can’t have it both ways though they will try.
        (And yes, I am one of the few people who has the honor to wear a cavalry Combat patch on my right sleeve.)

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