For the second consecutive month, a Gopher is the national player of the month in Division I hockey as selected by the Hockey Commissioners' Association.
Nick Bjugstad, a 6-5, 211-pound sophomore center, is the latest Gopher to earn that honor for November. Goalie Kent Patterson was the player of the month in October.
Bjugstad had an NCAA-high nine goals -- and four assists -- in eight games in November. The last Gopher with nine goals in one month was Ryan Potulny in March of 2006.
Bjugstad had at least one point in eight games, and at least one goal in six games. The highlight of the month for him was his first college hat trick against St. Cloud State on Nov. 18. Bjugstad, a first round draft pick of Florida in 2010, scored on nine of his 26 shots on net in November, a 34.6 percent success rate.
His 25 total points (15 goals, 10 assists) tie him for the national points lead with two Badgers, winger Mark Zengerle and defenseman Justin Schultz.
The four honorable mention picks were goalie Brandon Komm of Bentley, and forwards Tim Schaller of Providence, Austin Smith of Colgate and Reilly Smith of Miami.
BJUGSTAD FOCUSED ON MAVERICKS
Earlier this week, Bjugstad said the Gophers are not looking past Minnesota State this weekend even though the Mavericks are at the bottom of the WCHA standings.
"They are always a good, gritty team," he said. "They have some skilled guys up front. They brought it to us last year. Being swept by them [in two one-goal games in Mankato] -- that is definitely sitting in the back of our heads and we are going to come out hard."
ANOTHER HONOR AWAITS HIM
On Monday, Bjugstad will almost certainly be one of the 29 or so players picked for USA Hockey's pre-tournament camp for the 2012 World Junior Championships. The camp will start Dec. 17 and run through Dec. 23. From it the team will be chosen for the WJC in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
"Hopefully that can happen," he said, referring to making the U.S. team for the second year for the under-20 international tournament. "There are a lot of good players that can be on that team. [The Gophers] will have our break, so it doesn’t really mess up any schedule other that [the Mariucci Classic]. When we come back, we will play Notre Dame right away.
"It is honor to play for your county," Bjugstad said. "If you can do that, it is a blast."
Kyle Rau, a freshman who plays on Bjugstad's left wing, also is expected to be be invited to the pre-tournament camp. There the roster will be trimmed to 22 players.
"It was pretty surreal [last year]," Bjugstad said, referring to the World Junior Championships. "Getting to play Canada. Pretty crazy, playing them on our soil [in Buffalo, N.Y.], but it was kind of like playing them in Canada because there were like 18,000 Canadian fans [who crossed the border]. It is pretty wild. It was a great experience."
CORNELL FORWARD NAMED TOP ROOKIE
The national rookie of the month for November was forward Brian Ferlin of Cornell. He had five goals and six assists in eight games for the Big Red. He was a plus-9 for the month playing right wing on his team's second line. Cornell was 6-2-0 last month.
Rau earned this award last month. He continues to lead all freshmen with 10 goals and 18 points this season in 16 games.
Nebraska Omaha forward Jayson Megna was among four honorable mention picks. The other were forwards Daniel Bahntge of Mercyhurst, Austin Czarnik of Miami and Grayson Downing of New Hampshire.