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Six Minnesotans on college hockey all-star teams

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • April 18, 2013 - 10:46 AM

A third of the 18 players on the all-USCHO teams are Minnesotans.

USCHO.com is the web site for U.S. College Hockey Online.

On the first team are goalie Eric Hartzell of Quinnipiac from White Bear Lake and forward Danny Kristo of North Dakota from Eden Prairie. Both are seniors.

Two St. Cloud State teammates are on the second team. They are defenseman Nick Jensen of Rogers and Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown. Jensen is a junior, LeBlanc a senior.

On the third team are goalie Brady Hjelle of Ohio State from International Falls and forward Anders Lee of Notre Dame from Edina. Hjelle is a senior, Lee a junior.

The three complete teams:

First team

Goaltender Eric Hartzell, a senior from Quinnipiac
Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, a junior from Massachusetts-Lowell
Defenseman Jacob Trouba, a freshman from Michigan
Forward Kyle Flanagan, a senior from St. Lawrence
Forward Johnny Gaudreau, a sophomore from Boston College
Forward Danny Kristo, a senior from North Dakota

Second team

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, a freshman from Massachusetts-Lowell
Defenseman Nick Bailen, a senior from Rensselaer
Defenseman Nick Jensen, a junior from St. Cloud State
Forward Greg Carey, a junior from St. Lawrence
Forward Drew LeBlanc, a senior from St. Cloud State
Forward Steven Whitney, a senior from Boston College

Third team

Goaltender Brady Hjelle, a senior from Ohio State
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, a sophomore from Union
Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, a sophomore from New Hampshire
Forward Corban Knight, a senior from North Dakota
Forward Anders Lee, a junior from Notre Dame
Forward Andrew Miller, a senior from Yale

The Gophers tied St. Cloud State for the MacNaughton Cup but they were shut out from any USCHO honors. Why? The general perception, I have to believe, is that they underachieved.

After going 8-0-0 in nonconference games -- they were the only unbeaten, untied team in the country outside their league -- the Gophers managed to sweep just two series in the WCHA this season and those sweeps came against bottom feeders Alaska Anchorage and, in the last series of the regular season, Bemidji State.

They went into conference play as the overwhelming favorite to win the Cup, but played down to the level of their competition too often. This was a team with six of their top seven scorers returning from a Frozen Four team and their top six defensemen coming back.

The question was in the nets and freshman goalie Adam Wilcox broke the program's single-season record for the lowest goals-against average. Obviously, he had a great year.

The Gophers led the nation in scoring, were always high up in the national polls, but until late in the season were unsure if they had home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs because a top six finish in the conference was in doubt.

Then in postseason, they beat Bemidji State twice, but on the bigger stage, did little, losing to Colorado College 2-0 in the Final Five semifinals and to eventual NCAA champion Yale 3-2 in overtime in the West Regional semifinals.

In their last three NCAA appearances, the Gophers have lost to the eventual national champion.

Last year, they fell to Boston College 6-1 in the Frozen Four semifinals in Tampa.

Then, you have to go back four years, to 2008 for their next most recent NCAA trip. They trekked to Worchester, Mass., and lost 5-2 to BC in a regional semifinal. Maybe there is a little solace there. Being taken out by the champs.

But it has been 10 years now since Don Lucia has won a national title. His Gophers were back-to-back champions in 2002 and '03. 

This was a veteran,  junior-stacked team with the talent to do it.

The American Hockey Coaches Association picks the annual All-America teams, which are listed here.

 

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