The boys of winter are officially in business. The Gophers men's hockey team held its first practice Saturday morning. Players had to report by 8:30 a.m., presumably for a team meeting.
At 9 a.m, 28 players and three coaches were on the ice at Mariucci Arena.
The team worked out with coaches only for abour an hour, then the players stayed on the ice for 15-20 extra minutes. A second practice was scheduled for 4 p.m. Plenty of time was left in between to catch the homecoming football game between visiting Northwestern and the Gophers across the street at the Bank.
What were the lines? Glad you asked.
In black jerseys were freshman center Nick Bjugstad with senior wings Jacob Cepis and Jay Barriball on what has to be the top line. Bjugstad at a listed 6-4, 204 -- he says he is an inch taller and six pounds heavier -- towers over both of the seniors. Could be a dangerous line with two snipers and a big man to feed them and stand by the net.
The maroon and green lines were both candidates for the second line. Wearing green were freshman center Erik Haula with two former Hill-Murray teammates Mike Hoeffel and Nick Larson on the wings.
The maroon line had Patrick White with Jake Hansen and Nico Sacchetti and sometimes Cepis.
On the gold line were Taylor Matson with Nate Condon and Zach Budish. Any of the three can and have played center.
The orange line was made up of four players -- the Gophers have 16 forwards. They were Joe Miller, a junior in his third season, and freshmen Tom Serratore, Jared Larson and Max Gardiner.
There was a bit of shuffling around happening, too. Hansen, for instance, was on Bjugstad's line at times.
Didn't have as much success identifying all the D-man pairs. Did spot Aaron Ness with Seth Helgeson, and Mark Alt with Jake Parenteau. That leaves four more: Kevin Wehrs, Justin Holl, Cade Fairchild and Justin Holl. Chris Student, a transfer from Northeastern, also practice but can't play until next season.
Also worked on identifying the goalies, since they don't wear jerseys with numbers in practice.
Alex Kangas had a predominately white helmet, with what looks like a patch on the side saying, "State of hockey." Kent Patterson, his backup, wears white legs pads and white gloves.
Jake Kremer, the third goalies, has a helmet which looks like it has stitches, it doesn't, and wears gold leg pads.
Coaches on the ice were Don Lucia, who seemed to do most of the talking, and his assistants, John Hill and Grant Potulny.
* Cepis and Haula were the last players on the ice. They played a little game in front of one of the net. First one, the the other tried to score by skating around the other player, starting with the puck from the top of the circle. Both are crafty left-handed shooters. A Mariucci worker said Cepis is always the last skater off the ice.
* Bjugstad was tripped into the end boards by one of the goalies. A handful of players, including Bjugstad, were practicing breakaways at the time. This was after the coaches left.
Bjugstad did not go into the boards too hard, and after staying down a few seconds, got up and shook his head. He was fine.