Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.
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Gophers hockey incoming freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli will leave the program and school, the team announced on Tuesday.
“After a few weeks of trying to balance academics and athletics, Tommy made the decision this morning that college hockey was not the best route for him at this time,” coach Don Lucia said. “We accept his decision and will move on as a team.”
Vannelli, a 2013 Star Tribune boys’ hockey all-metro first-teamer, was expected to play a significant role for the Gophers this season. He scored eight goals and added 23 assists for Minnetonka High School, last season. After the prep season, he joined the U.S. National Developmental Team Program and helped lead the team to a Silver Medal in the World U-18 Championships in Sochi, Russia.
The St. Louis Blues selected Vannelli in the second round (47th overall) in last summer’s NHL draft.
The Gophers incoming freshmen class continues make headlines before ever officially taking the ice. Just over two weeks ago, freshman Gabe Guertler was indefinitely suspended for violating team rules. No further detail was given, but Hennepin County public records show Guertler was arrested Aug. 31 by the University of Minnesota police department and charged with a fourth-degree DWI (driving while impaired). He was released later that morning and is scheduled to make a court appearance on Oct. 11.
A week later, Gophers recruit Louie Nanne de-committed from the team.