The freshman's on-ice communication might not be what UNO coach Dean Blais wants, but everything else that Ian Brady has done is coming through loud and clear.
“Coach doesn't like the way he communicates in practice, but I have no problems playing with him,” said smiling senior captain Michael Young, Brady's defense partner. “We've got a good bond and we're good together.”
With two goals and five assists through 10 games, Brady is tied for fifth on the team in points as UNO (5-5-0) prepares for its weekend nonconference series with second-ranked Michigan (6-1-1) at CenturyLink Center.
“I have a lot of confidence right now,” Brady said. “And I think the coaches have a lot of confidence in me. It helps to get a lot of minutes as a young guy.”
He also said that playing with Young has helped him make a smooth transition into college hockey.
“I think in practice Coach wants me to talk more,” Brady said. “But 'Younger' and I have a good chemistry that we've built over the last couple of months. We have a way of knowing where and when and what to do together.
“It helps playing with a captain and a senior. He's shown me the ropes.”
Blais is obviously pleased with the progress of the 6-foot, 204-pound 19-year-old, even if he is too quiet.
“He's just got to realize he's not Mike Young,” Blais said. “He's got to play with intensity all over the ice. Mike can pick and choose his spots offensively and defensively a little better because he's a senior. But one thing he definitely has in common with Mike is that he doesn't panic under pressure.”
That's why point totals can be misleading. Being steady and responsible is Brady's goal.
“You always hope to be able to put up points, but it's not a main objective for me,” Brady said. “I just want to be able to move the puck up to the forwards, have that good first pass out of the zone. Getting the points helps the confidence, but so does helping the team win — and we've won three of the last four.”
UNO is halfway through its daunting march through November, going 3-1 against Denver and North Dakota with Michigan and No. 8 Miami (Ohio) still ahead.
It's the kind of challenge Brady was looking for when he joined the UNO program.
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“It's definitely going to be a tough task, but I think we've got the personnel to do it,” Brady said of facing Michigan. “I think it's going to be a tough series.”
The Michigan series will be an interesting one for Brady. Despite being from Lombard, Ill., a couple of his favorite teams are from Michigan. He followed an older brother in becoming a Detroit Red Wings fan. And in college football, he was a Michigan man — or kid, anyway.
“I always loved Michigan football, used to watch them on Saturdays and root for them,” Brady said. “It's going to be a little different playing against them.
“I think it was just their helmets. I loved them.”
Brady, 19, played three seasons in the United States Hockey League for Cedar Rapids, contributing six goals and 25 assists in his final season. He also played for the USA Under-18 Team in 2010-11.
“He can definitely make plays and join the offense,” Blais said. “And he's got a way of getting the puck through.”
Brady has been particularly effective at the point on the Mavs' power play, during which he's recorded a team-best six points — with both of his goals and four of his five assists.
“I ran the power play the last two years in Cedar Rapids, so I'm really comfortable with that,” Brady said. “Just moving on to the college level and being able to produce has been nice.”
Blais' insistence that players talk to one another on the ice, calling for pucks and such, is standard operating procedure. Young remembers going through the same thing as a freshman.
Young agreed that he and Brady work together well, both verbally and nonverbally.
“He's a great 'D' partner and I love playing with him,” Young said. “We're kind of the same player. We read each other really well and communicate really well.”
Brady had a goal and two assists in the Mavs' sweep at Denver, and he scored his second goal in Sunday's loss to North Dakota.
“He's growing really fast,” Young said. “He's a top-notch player. He's really good right now, and he's going to be even better in a couple of years as he matures.”
NOTES: Blais said defenseman Jaycob Megna is “doubtful” for this weekend after suffering an upper body injury Sunday against North Dakota. “We're hopeful he'll be back, but right now it's doubtful,” Blais said. ... Blais said defenseman Matt Youso (illness) had a reaction to medication and is missing practice time.