Everyone keeps calling the Gophers a young team. In terms of college experience, they are a little green, but in actual age the average age of a Gopher this season is 21.
Speaking of ages, today (Oct. 18) is defenseman Mark Alt's 20th birthday. Two other Gophers were born in October. Defenseman Seth Helgeson turned 21 on Oct. 8, freshman forward Kyle Rau turns 19 on Oct. 24.
This season the Gophers have seven freshmen -- not an unusual number in college hockey. They have 12 sophomores -- now that is a big class. It grew by one this season because Zach Budish was granted an extra season because of medical hardship in 2010-11. He had knee surgery early last season. So Budish is a red-shirt sophomore.
Also unusual in size is the junior class with one player, Seth Helgeson. It was a small class of four to begin with, then after one season defenseman Nick Leddy signed with Chicago of the NHL and forward Josh Birkholz left to play in the Western Hockey League.
There are seven seniors this season, but that is a little deceiving because Jake Kremer is the third-string goalie and never plays and forward Joe Miller rarely plays.
So the success of this team will depend a lot on how the sophomores do.
Twenty-one of 27 players on the Gophers hockey team played junior hockey, although in freshman Kyle Rau's case it was only after his high school season. Travis Boyd, another freshman, played in the U.S. national development program.
Most of the Gophers have one to three years of juniors experience. That's why the average age of the Gophers -- despite the team being sophomore-dominated -- is 21. Three "freshmen" last year came in at 21. Freshmen defenseman Blake Thompson is 20 this season.
But teams bringing in older players is happening a lot in college hockey. The Gophers are following the trend.
Here are the age numbers:
There are 16 forwards on the team. Here is how they break down:
18 years old: three, Seth Ambroz, Travis Boyd and Kyle Rau. Rau turns 19 on Oct. 24.
19: three, Sam Warning, Nick Bjugstad, Christian Isackson
20: two, Zack Budish, Erik Haula
21: one, Nate Condon
22: five, Jake Hansen, Tom Serratore, Nico Sacchetti, Jared Larson, Nick Larson
23: one: Taylor Matson
24: one, Joe Miller
Average age of forwards: 21 years, 6 months (with months, weeks figured in)
There are eight forwards. Here is how they break down at start of the season (Mark Alt turned 20 on Oct:18, Seth Helgeson turned 21 on Oct. 8)
19: three, Ben Marshall, Mark Alt, Justin Holl
20: three, Nate Schmidt, Seth Helgeson, Blake Thomspon
22: two, Jake Parenteau, Chris Student
Average age of defensemen: 20 years, 7 months (with months, weeks figured in)
20: one, Mike Shibrowski
22: one, Kent Patterson
23: one, Jake Kremer
Average age of goalies: 22 years. 1 month, 10 days (with months, weeks figured in)
Average age of Gophers: 21 years, 3-1/2 months
UMD SLIGHTLY OLDER
UMD, the defending NCAA champion, has a slightly older team than the Gophers. The Bulldogs average age at the start of the season was 21 years, 7 months.
Here's the 'Dogs breakdown: