After four years of waiting, North Dakota’s Tate Maris makes collegiate debut

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When looking at Tate Maris's player profile page on the University of North Dakota's men's hockey team website, three variations of "did not see any game action" are listed for his freshman, sophomore and senior seasons. But now, when UND's 2012-13 season is finally over, Maris, the team's third-string goaltender, will be able look back on his final year in Grand Forks and say that he did get into a non-exhibition game.

This past Sunday, as UND wrapped up its first round WCHA series with a 6-0 over Michigan Tech, Maris had his "Rudy" moment.

Rudy Ruettiger was a football player at Notre Dame in the 1970s who walked on and earned a place on the scout team. In the final game of Ruettiger's senior year, he finally made it into a game and recorded a sack on the last play before being carried off the field by his teammates.

Sunday's game was the last home game at Ralph Engelstad Arena for UND's seniors. With four minutes left to go in the game, and a crowd chanting his name, head coach Dave Hakstol decided to make a goalie switch, giving Maris the first live action of his collegiate career.

Maris' final stat line: 4:02 played, 1 save, 0.00 goals against average. Perfect.

UND kicks off the WCHA Final Five today against Colorado College, and while Maris won't see any action barring a disastrous situation happening to their crease, there was no hiding how much of an affect he's had on the entire program.

From Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald:

Hakstol said the decision to put in Maris for goalie Clarke Saunders, who had a 27-save shutout at the time, was an easy one.

“Tate means an awful lot to the guys in the locker room and a lot to our program,” Hakstol said. “He’s earned a hell of a lot more than four minutes during his time here. We’re happy to at least get him those four. He’s extremely important to our locker room — all you had to do is look how hard the guys played in front of him those last four minutes.”

"Am I doing a good job? I'm new to this," asked Maris during his first ever post-game media scrum.

Never recruited by UND, Maris, like Ruettiger, walked on to the team and waited for his moment. After four years of waiting, it finally came, and afterward he was still trying to process that it finally happened.

"Indescribable," he said. "I'm kind of at a loss of words for it."

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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