Frozen Four win remains fresh for Carolina's Justin Faulk

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2012 - 2:11 AM

Justin Faulk returns to town as an NHL rookie, a year after celebrating a UMD title on Xcel ice.

hide

Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, a Minnesota Duluth alumnus shown playing against the Rangers, has averaged nearly 23 minutes of ice time since mid-November.

Photo: Frank Franklin Ii, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Justin Faulk was in North Carolina at noon Friday, about to fly to the Twin Cities, and he could hardly wait to come home. So, for every question the Carolina Hurricanes rookie defenseman was asked, he had one of his own.

How do those mohawks look on the Minnesota Duluth players this year? (That depends.) Is it true the Gophers are sporting the bleach blond look this spring, just like UMD did last year? (Yes.)

Get the idea the young Mr. Faulk, 19, is already a bit nostalgic about his college years.

Make that his college year.

"This is pretty exciting," said Faulk, a former UMD star, via telephone. "I'm pumped. I hope everything goes well for [the Bulldogs], so they can watch me play [Saturday]."

A year ago Faulk, who hails from South St. Paul, was a key member of the Bulldogs team that won the national championship on the Xcel Energy Center ice. Not quite a year later Faulk will play there for the first time since the title. And the timing couldn't be better. Before the 'Canes' flight took off, Faulk had already arranged to get to the UMD-Denver WCHA Final Five game semifinal, hoping to arrive during the second period.

"That's the goal," he said. "To see the guys."

UMD's two-overtime loss Friday aside, just about everything else this season has been a positive for Faulk, who has established himself in the NHL before reaching 20.

After the Bulldogs won it all last year, Faulk sat down with UMD assistant coach Derek Plante to talk about the future. "He was straight with me," Faulk said. Plante said the big goal in college hockey was the title, and Faulk had accomplished that. It was time for Faulk to do what was best for himself.

So Faulk, who had been drafted by Carolina with the 37th overall pick in 2010, decided to go pro. He was on Carolina's roster for the first few games this season before being sent down to the teams' AHL affiliate. But not for long. Called back up in mid-November, Faulk has averaged nearly 23 minutes of ice time.

In 54 games Faulk has eight goals and 11 assists. Among rookie defensemen, Faulk ranks first in ice time per game, tied for first with two game-winning goals and second -- behind another Minnesotan, Jake Gardiner of the Maple Leafs -- in points.

None of this really surprises Faulk. He did, after all, go to camp last fall expecting to make the Hurricanes. Still ...

"It's been good," he said. "I can't say I expected myself to be playing this much, this many minutes."

But that's what he has done, once acclimating himself to the pace of NHL play. "Everything is so much faster here," he said. "You have to be ready. But, once you get used to that, that's when you start getting comfortable playing your game. It's been a lot of fun. But it took a while for it to sink in that I was actually playing in this league."

Faulk's game matches strong defensive play with the ability to move the puck. He also has a scoring touch, as his five power-play goals show.

Faulk will have a lot of family and friends in the arena for Saturday's game. And he knows it will be emotional when he takes the ice at Xcel for the first time since winning a national title.

"Every time I think about that the memories come flooding back." He said. "There was nothing better than winning it in Minnesota. I still think about it all the time."

  • related content

  • Wild-Carolina game preview

    Saturday March 17, 2012

    Preview: Call this an NHL lottery battle. As of Friday morning the Wild had the league's fifth-worse point total (68 points) and Carolina had the sixth-worst (69). Only the bottom...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 82 4th Qtr 10:31
Charlotte 92
New York 27 2nd Qtr 5:49
Chicago 42
Golden State 14 1st Qtr 8:11
Milwaukee 7
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:00 PM
Portland
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 3rd Prd
Carolina 1
Florida 2 2nd Prd 1:58
Montreal 2
Ottawa 2 3rd Prd
Toronto 0
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd
Minnesota 2
Columbus 1 2nd Prd
St. Louis 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Colorado
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 43 2nd Half 15:18
NJIT 42
Notre Dame 7:49 PM
Kentucky
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 2nd Half 30:00
D.C. 0
Sporting Kansas City 1 2nd Half 30:00
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 1 2nd Half 40:00
Columbus 0
Portland 0 1st Half 7:00
Vancouver FC 1
Colorado 0 1st Half 35:00
Houston 0
Seattle 0 1st Half 40:00
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 61 2nd Half 3:26
(6) Tennessee 54
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close