Gophers positioned for more success in 2013

Though the U will have a new starter in goal, it has the returning talent to remain among the nation's elite.

hide

Coach Don Lucia’s Gophers ended a three-year NCAA tournament drought by advancing to the Frozen Four. The bulk of the team is slated to return, although leading goal-scorer Nick Bjugstad could leave for the NHL.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

TAMPA, FLA. - If there is any consolation for Gophers players and fans smarting from Thursday's NCAA semifinal loss to Boston College, it's this: Another Frozen Four trip seems more likely in 2013 than this year's improbable excursion.

The Gophers should be one of the top-ranked teams in the preseason national polls, especially if sophomore center Nick Bjugstad decides to stay another season. Seven seniors will be gone, but only four of them played in Thursday 6-1 loss.

The key departure is senior goalie Kent Patterson. He started all 43 games the Gophers played. His seven shutouts set a team record, and his 2.32 goals-against average was the third best in school history. His replacement probably will be incoming freshman Adam Wilcox, playing now for Tri-City of the USHL. His save percentage is .916, third best in the league, and he has started 18 games in a row for the Storm. Remind you of anyone?

This is the second season in the USHL for Wilcox, of South St. Paul. He is a cousin of former Minnesota Duluth All-America goalie Alex Stalock.

"[Adam] is the main reason we are in the playoff hunt and should make it," Storm coach Josh Hauge said. "Before we acquired him in a trade [in late November], we were pretty much dead in the water. ... [Adam] fights for every puck and never quits. He is very quick side to side."

Mike Shibrowski, Patterson's backup, also will compete for his job as a junior. The Gophers are bringing in two highly touted defensemen, too -- Brady Skjei of Lakeville and Mike Reilly of Chanhassen.

Skjei, 6-2 and 200 pounds, is playing for the under-18 national team in Ann Arbor, Mich. He is expected to be a first-round pick in the NHL draft this spring and is on the roster of the U.S. team that will play in the Under-18 World Championships starting Thursday in the Czech Republic. Reilly -- the youngest of three brothers slated to join the Gophers next year who are or were at Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League this season -- had 83 points.

The Gophers' top six defensemen all could return, including sophomore Nate Schmidt, an All-WCHA second-team pick, so the competition for playing time on the blue line could be fierce.

Up front the Gophers will lose five players, including captain Taylor Matson and Jake Hansen. Matson was a valuable penalty killer and a leader by example. Hansen had 16 goals, including the only one the Gophers scored against BC. Aside from Hansen, the other five departing forwards combined for 16 goals.

Reilly's younger brothers, twins Connor (35-51--86 in the regular season) and Ryan (32-41--73), should help replace that production if Connor recovers well from knee surgery. Other incoming forwards are A.J. Michaelson, who has six goals and 13 assists for Waterloo of the USHL, and perhaps Lakeville South's Justin Kloos, who had 41 goals and 103 points this season and was named Mr. Hockey. The 5-9, 170-pound Kloos might play a season of junior hockey.

Bjugstad appears to be the biggest risk to turn pro. He consistently said he would wait until after the season to talk to the Florida Panthers, who took him in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft, then decide on his future. He led the Gophers, picked to finish sixth in the WCHA, with 25 goals.

The Gophers also have had players unexpectedly turn pro early, such as defensemen Stu Bickel in 2008 and Nick Leddy in 2010.

Whatever happens next with the Gophers roster, Matson is convinced the 2011-12 team, with its MacNaughton Cup and Frozen Four berth, laid a strong foundation upon which to build.

"There's tons of people in Minnesota and on this team that can stand a little bit taller and be proud to be a Gopher after this season,'' he said. "I have nothing but great things to say about my teammates and this coaching staff for playing together and being part of something special."

Staff writer Chip Scoggins contributed to this report.

  • related content

  • UMD's Connolly wins Hobey Baker

    Saturday April 7, 2012

    Senior center Jack Connolly of Minnesota Duluth was named the winner of the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in Division I college hockey, on Friday.

  • GOPHERS HOCKEY LOOKING FORWARD

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close