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Former UND defenseman Jake Sanderson scores first NHL goal – Grand Forks Herald

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LAS VEGAS — Jake Sanderson rushed to the boards to hold a puck in the offensive zone Wednesday night.

The former UND defenseman got there in time. Then, he settled it, turned towards the net and fired the puck through a maze of bodies.

“I just saw the goalie fall down and Brady (Tkachuk) turned around with his hands in the air,” said Sanderson, a rookie for the Ottawa Senators. “I didn’t know if I got it, but he said he didn’t touch it.”

It was, indeed, Sanderson’s goal — the first of his NHL career.

“It felt nice,” Sanderson said. “It took a while, but I’m happy I got it and I’m grateful my dad could be there to watch it. That’s pretty cool.”

Sanderson has been playing major minutes for the Senators.

He has eclipsed 22 minutes in each of the last seven games — only one NHL rookie is averaging more ice time per game — and the production has started to come. He’s tied for third among NHL rookies with 10 points in 19 games. He leads all rookie defensemen in scoring.

“It will be the first of many,” Ottawa coach DJ Smith said of Sanderson’s goal. “He played lots of minutes. He was our best defenseman tonight. . . he is most nights.”

Sanderson, sporting a mustache for Movember, said he feels like he’s making progress in his young NHL career.

“Obviously, there’s still stuff I can learn,” Sanderson said. “I feel like I’m learning every game — something here or there. But I like how I’m trending and I feel like, as a team, we’re getting better.”

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