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Inside College Hockey: Corban Knight

A natural centerman, Knight struggled in a stint at wing during the first half of his freshman season but rebounded after going back to the pivot.

A natural centerman, Knight struggled in a stint at wing during the first half of his freshman season but rebounded after going back to the pivot.

Key Statistics: Perhaps the gift of offense was sitting under the Knight family Christmas tree last year. After scoring just one goal in his first 17 collegiate games, Knight exploded after the holidays with a dozen points in his last 20 games and two WCHA Rookie of the Week awards.

What He Does: Your freshman year of college is all about trying new things. So Knight, who’d played center all his life, quietly went along last season when his new coaches tried him on the wing. Unfortunately, that led to many quiet nights on the rink as well, as Knight was ineffective in that position. After the holidays, when they moved him back to the middle of a line between Danny Kristo and Darcy Zajac, Knight’s numbers took off. And the offensive outburst came despite missing five games with a high ankle sprain that some thought would end his season. The late-season surge was a familiar scenario for Knight, who says he’s always been a late bloomer. When he was not picked in the Western Hockey League draft, he set his sights on college hockey instead. That’s a career path Sioux fans approved of, especially after Knight notched a goal and an assist in the WCHA Final Five title game in March.

The Bigger Picture: Coaches use words like “intelligence,” “competitor,” and “skills” when they talk about Knight, and admit those are all qualities you like to have in a playmaker. One word Dave Hakstol says he’d like to use more in his description of Knight is “selfish,” noting that the Florida Panthers’ draft pick is a natural playmaker, but would be well-served to use his scoring touch around the net a bit more this season. Those talents were first honed in small-town Saskatchewan, where Jack and Laurie Knight raised a family next door to an outdoor rink and Corban could be found there seemingly every winter day from the age of two and on. He got one trophy as a freshman as the Sioux won the WCHA’s playoff title. The sights are set higher, much higher, in year two. With star defenseman Chay Genoway expected back in the lineup, Knight says it should be a special season, in which he and his teammates have made a NCAA title their number one goal.

Fighting Sioux coach Dave Hakstol on Knight: “He’s got a chance to play a very prominent role for us this season, but obviously that’s up to him. Throughout the year last season he seemed to get more and more comfortable with the level of play and the things around him. I expect Corban to play a lot of minutes for us.”

By Jess Myers Inside College Hockey