The three-game goal-scoring streak that Josh Archibald carries into this weekend's series at Michigan Tech is nothing new.
As a freshman last year, the University of Nebraska at Omaha forward made an immediate impact with goals in each of his first two games and a run of five goals in six games — the last four in consecutive appearances — to give him seven goals in his first 13 games.
The Brainerd, Minn., native played with the U.S. team in the prestigious World Junior tournament, too, during the holidays. But after a two-goal game at Minnesota State-Mankato on Jan. 21 gave him 10 goals, Archibald didn't record a point in his final 12 games of the season.
“Mentally and physically I kind of got worn down, but I don't want to use that as an excuse for why I fell off the map at the end of the season,” said Archibald, who also had five assists as a freshman.
Having seen the toll that the transition from roughly 25 high school games to 40-plus games (between UNO and World Juniors) wrought, Archibald went to work in the offseason.
The 5-foot-11 Archibald said he put on about 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason — his weight went from a listed 170 pounds last year to 183 this year.
“That's a big help for me with the way I play,” Archibald said. “I don't get pushed around as much in the corners, and you can win more one-on-one battles.”
Relentless, and apparently fearless, Archibald is one of several Mavericks who have stepped up their play from last season.
“I think he came in this summer with the idea that he was going to get stronger and more durable,” UNO coach Dean Blais said. “I think he might have worn down a little bit coming out of Minnesota high school and then going up into the World Junior tournament with me (Blais was the U.S. coach).
“He's (about) 15 pounds stronger and he plays hard — he's an honest hockey player. And we're expecting him to have a good year.”
Archibald was held without a point the first three games this season but has four points since — including three of the more spectacular goals for the Mavs (2-3-1, 0-1-1 WCHA).
He was crashing the net at a high speed when he was credited for redirecting a Zahn Raubenheimer shot for UNO's only goal in a 2-1 loss to Northern Michigan on Oct. 20.
In the opener of last weekend's series against Bemidji State, he took Dominic Zombo's faceoff win at the top of the circle, sidestepped an oncoming Beaver by going on one skate and then fired a wrist shot past Andrew Walsh to the near post.
The following night, he sent the puck under a sliding defenseman while going airborne himself, sneaking another goal past Walsh.
“I'm not really a fancy guy,” Archibald said. “I'm more of a mucker and grinder, getting dirty goals. But every once in a while you get lucky and make those plays and the puck goes in the net.”
A sixth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2011, Archibald, made the transition directly from high school (where he had 27 goals and 46 assists in 25 games) to college without a stop in juniors.
“He bypassed the USHL, which you (usually) don't want to do, but I'd watched him enough and figured that he was as good as the guys coming in who had played a year or two of juniors,” Blais said. “That turned out to be a good decision.”
Archibald, now 20, has bounced between center and right wing this season after playing nearly all last season — with the notable exception of his three-point game at MSU — on a wing.
He's played with six linemates in various combinations.
“I've been playing with some good guys and we've been working well together,” Archibald said. “I've been going to the net and getting my chances, and fortunately I've been putting the puck in the net.”
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