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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published December 05 2012

Freshman settling in for UND

GRAND FORKS – Overtime hero Drake Caggiula was just getting set to do postgame interviews in World Arena on Saturday night when University of North Dakota linemate Rocco Grimaldi walked up and offered some advice.

“You know your shirt is on backwards, right?” Grimaldi said.

“What? It is?” Caggiula asked.

“Yes, that’s supposed to be in the front,” Grimaldi said, pointing to the logo on the shirt.

“They need to have instructions with these things,” a confused Caggiula said.

So, the freshman from Pickering, Ont., hasn’t figured everything out yet, but after last weekend, he’s well on his way.

Caggiula scored three goals against Colorado College and was nominated for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association offensive player of the week and rookie of the week awards.

One of his goals came on a dazzling play, where he put the puck between the legs of a Tigers defenseman and finished it off by going five-hole with a backhand. Another came on a snap shot in overtime that lifted UND to a series split and sent the team home feeling good about the weekend.

“I definitely think I’m more comfortable making plays that I would have made last year in juniors,” Caggiula said. “I talked to my dad back home and he just said, ‘Be confident in yourself. Be confident in the plays you can make. Do your thing and don’t be scared.’ I think the last couple weeks, I’ve really started to settle in, try some things and it has worked out for me.”

Caggiula had two points in his first seven games to start the season. He has six points in his last seven games after the big weekend in Colorado Springs.

“That has a way of really building your confidence offensively,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s nice to see a young player that’s offensively gifted finally start to have some things bounce his way, have him start to make plays with confidence. That’s a natural part of his development. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see that grow in the right direction.”

Caggiula has played left wing on a line with Rocco Grimaldi for most of the season. Last weekend, Hakstol moved Grimaldi from center to right wing and moved senior Carter Rowney up the middle on the line. That unit had a productive weekend.

“We have a lot of chemistry – on and off the ice,” Caggiula said of Grimaldi. “We hang out quite a bit off the ice, which transfers on the ice. Playing multiple weekends together, it’s definitely key. We have built a lot of chemistry and we’re starting to know each other and where we’re going to be.”

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald