Zach Budish is out for the season after knee surgery. But the sophomore winger still goes to Gophers games at home. So when Wally Shaver, the Gophers' play-by-play man needed help this weekend, he tapped Budish on the shoulder.
"He did a pretty good job," said Shaver after Friday's game. "I told him if he wanted to come back and do it [Saturday], go ahead."
Budish did. He filled in as the color analyst for Glen Sonmor. Budish sat alongside Shaver for the second period and part of the third.
"[Sonmor] just wasn't feeling well and was a little bit under the weather," Shaver said. "[Budish] did a really good job. Obviously, he understands systems and everything and can point out a few little tidbits. I thought he contributed quite well."
Sonmor, who was battling a cold, said being away last weekend helped him make a decision: He is not returning to the radio booth. A month ago, he announced he would retire at the end of the season.
"I've done it a long enough time," Sonmor said. "It is time for somebody else to take over. ... I may as well do it now, It's been a lot of fun."
Sonmor has broadcast Gophers' hockey games for the past 15 seasons.
BUDISH BACK ON ICE
This was an exciting weekend for Budish in several ways. Not only did he get to be on the radio -- he wasn't paid, so no problems with the NCAA there -- his doctor told him Saturday he could start skating.
He went through a light skate Monday before the Gophers' practice. "He was thrilled," said Kim Budish, his father.
Budish injured his right knee in a moped accident on Nov. 1 and three weeks later had season-ending knee surgery. He had two goals and four assists in seven games.
And how was being a radio broadcaster? "It was fun," Budish said. "I like doing stuff like that.
"I let [Wally] do most of the talking. I just tried to give a player's perspective on different stuff, like line combinations, who is playing well."
Last weekend was not the first time Budish has tried broadcasting. As a high school senior at Edina, he was on FSN when the TV station broadcast a Hornets' game. Budish missed his entire senior year, He needed left knee surgery for a torn ACL from football.
He also has been on FSN this season. "Right after I got hurt, I did a period this year," Budish said. "[Friday] I tried to stay quiet so I wouldn't be too biased for the Gophers. Obviously, when we scored I was celebrating and stuff. But I tried to keep it down."
His take for radioland on the Gophers' 5-2 victory on Friday?
"I thought we played well," Budish said. "At times, at the end of the first period and the beginning of the second, I thought Michigan Tech took it to us for a little while. But right after they scored their [first] goal, [Taylor] Matson came back right away. That was a huge momentum swing right there, tying it up right away 30 seconds later and then taking it to them."
Budish won't be traveling to Bemidji this weekend. NCAA rules prohibit him taking the team bus since he can't play. So if he went, he would have to find transportation and pay his own expenses: hotel, etc.
But if Shaver's bosses at Learfield Communications don't get a quick replacement for Sonmor, Budish could be back for a period or so if the Gophers play any more home games.
Shaver said Learfield probably won't replace Sonmor this year. "I'll be solo up in Bemidji," Shaver said.
If the U and Learfield approve, Shaver said that he would welcome Budish back.
The Gophers need just one point (one tie) at Bemidji State to earn home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs on March 11-13.