Saturday afternoon the NHL Network aired the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs vs. North Dakota Fighting Sioux game that took place the night before. It was the first of a two-game weekend series, and the Fighting Sioux came out on top 4-2 by handing the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
Three Blackhawks prospects laced up their skates for the game. Defenseman Dylan Olsen and forward Daniel Delisle for Minnesota-Duluth, and defenseman Joe Gleason for North Dakota. It was Gleason’s second game of the season, and the guys in the booth mentioned that injuries were the reason why he was in the lineup. So let’s start there.
Gleason is a decent defenseman, but is limited at the position because of his small stature (5’9” 171). He got knocked off the puck rather easily the few times he attempted to carry it out of his own zone. Gleason attempted to muck-it-up in the crease with the much bigger Daniel Delisle (6’4” 222) after the whistle blew in the first period. The refs broke it up before anything it escalated above a shoving match.
Gleason rounded out the third pairing for the Fighting Sioux, and was virtually unnoticeable. His biggest contribution to the game came in the second period when he was able to keep the puck from leaving the offensive zone, which eventually led to North Dakota’s first goal.
On the other side of the puck, Delisle was on the ice for the Bulldogs when the scoreless tie was broken. He stood just above the hash marks in his own zone, and watched the Fighting Sioux run a cycling clinic around him, offering very little in the way of defense.
If you don’t know much about the kid, the best word I’d use to describe him is awkward. He reminds me of a 14-year-old skating after he shot-up five inches over the summer, trying to gain his balance with every stride. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that he’s a poor skater. Despite limitations that stem from his lack of speed, Delisle knows how to use his size. He will go into board-battles knowing he can come away with the puck, and causes problems for defenders in front of the net.
I’m always impressed with how refined Dylan Olsen is as a defender. He was lined up on the second paring, and saw time on both the power play and the penalty kill. Olsen’s ability to gain position on opposing players in his own zone, take the body and either knock him off the puck or the puck off him is text-book. Forwards had a tough time getting off a good shot while he was on the ice, and Olsen had a plus-one rating on the evening.
Of the three Hawks’ prospects, Olsen was the only one to scratch the score sheet. He had an assist in Minnesota-Duluth’s first goal of the game, which came in the second period. Olsen got a wrist-shot from the point on net in an attempt to catch the goaltender out of position. The save was made, but left a juicy rebound for Travis Oleksuk on the open half of the net. It was his sixth assist on the season, just nine games in as of Friday.
A few more notes about Olsen before this post abruptly ends. He awareness away from the puck is above average, often negating the cross-ice pass on a two-on-two rush with how well he has his man covered. Olsen will pinch and jumps in the offensive zone when need be. He’ll leave the collegiate ranks this spring.