Jackman played against UND during his two seasons at Minnesota State-Mankato, then crossed paths with numerous former UND players during his 12-year NHL career that spanned six different teams.
Jackman, now the head coach at NorthStar Christian Academy in Alexandria, Minn., says he sees that in Ben Strinden, the forward from Fargo who made a verbal commitment to UND on Monday.
“He’s got a lot of tools,” Jackman said. “He’s got grit, speed, a great shot, he sees the ice well and he’s just a competitor. He plays extremely hard. He has a will and a determination that’s special.
“He will fit right in with past players who have played there and the culture that’s there. I know the coaches there and how they want their players to play and carry themselves on and off the ice. He’s a great fit.”
Strinden has spent the last two seasons playing for NorthStar Christian Academy. He had 29 goals and 55 points in 47 games as a sophomore in NorthStar’s inaugural season. He followed that up with 23 goals and 63 points as a junior.
Strinden will play his senior season with Muskegon in the United States Hockey League. His arrival date at UND is still up in the air, but he will play at least two years of junior hockey.
Jackman said it’s still too early to determine where the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Strinden will fit into UND’s lineup, but he has potential to play multiple different roles. Strinden currently plays center, but has the ability to play wing, too.
“It’s too early to tell where he’ll play in the lineup,” Jackman said. “But I believe he has the work ethic and the tools to be a top-six forward at some point in his career. He has so many tools that he can bring value to any place in the lineup.”
Strinden attracted interest from other schools, including St. Cloud State, Minnesota State-Mankato, Bemidji State and Michigan Tech, but he committed to UND when it became his first official offer this week.
Strinden has a long family history with the school. His grandfather, Earl, was the president of the UND Alumni Association and helped get Ralph Engelstad Arena built. His mother, Michelle, and father, Tom, both graduated from UND. His brother, Jacob, is currently a law student.
“Off the ice, he’s a gentleman,” Jackman said. “He’s very respectful. He’s very professional at a young age. He shows up on time. He takes his academics seriously. He takes his work ethic when it comes to hockey very seriously — the way he eats, the way he trains. He’s a focused young man. He likes to have a good time, too, and has a great smile. He’s a big-time character young man.”
Jackman said Strinden has been one of NorthStar’s most influential players.
“He scored the first goal in NorthStar Knight history,” he said. “He is the first D-I commit out of our program. I’m excited for UND. What a great young man and family they have coming to their program.”