Their college season didn’t end anywhere near the way they wanted, with an overtime loss to Notre Dame in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. But hockey life goes on, and three former Gophers are taking the next step in their careers at the Wild’s development camp this week at TRIA Rink.
Forward Tyler Sheehy and goalie Mat Robson are participating in the camp for the second consecutive season, while defenseman Jack Sadek is back for his fifth go-round.
“It might be a world record,’’ joked Sadek, a seventh-round draft pick by the Wild in 2015.
Each player is in a different stage of his development with the organization. Sheehy, the Gophers’ captain the past two seasons, is an invitee to camp after signing an amateur tryout agreement with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and playing in five games following the end of Minnesota’s season. Robson, the Gophers’ primary starter the past two seasons, gave up his senior season to sign the Wild organization and likely is bound for Iowa in the fall. Sadek signed an amateur tryout agreement with Iowa and got a taste of Double-A hockey, playing two games for the Wild’s ECHL affiliate, the Allen (Texas) Americans.
“This week really is about learning, having a little fun and getting to know everybody,’’ said Sheehy, a Burnsville native.
An All-America selection following a 53-point sophomore season in 2016-17, Sheehy slumped to 25 points the following season, in large part because of a back injury that required surgery. He rebounded last season, scoring 12 goals and assisting on 29. Now, he’s trying to earn a spot for the upcoming season.
“I want to take away as much as I can in this learning experience and get as much feedback as I can,’’ Sheehy said of development camp. “It’s going to help me out as a professional hockey player. Obviously, it’s my goal to play at the next level, and that’s what I’m working for.’’
Sadek, who had four goals and 14 assists for the Gophers this season, realizes how important development camp can be.
“I’m done with college now, so I’ve gotta really to impress the guys,’’ he said.
When development camp opened Tuesday, a primary focus was offensive drills, and that meant Robson and the four other goalies had a heavy workload. “We had to bear the brunt of it,’’ he said. “It was a good start, getting the fitness testing out of the way and getting a good, tough skate out of the way.
“Guys are coming out trying to make a statement,’’ Robson added, “and I’d expect nothing less.’’
A glance at the organization’s depth chart would have Robson penciled in at Iowa with Kaapo Kahkonen, a 2014 fourth-round draft pick. Iowa’s starter for the playoffs, Andrew Hammond, is a 31-year-old unrestricted free agent. The fact that the Wild selected two goalies – Hunter Jones of Peterborough of the OHL and Filip Lindberg of NCAA runner-up Massachusetts -- in last weekend’s draft didn’t faze Robson.
“It doesn’t really concern me. I know where I stand,’’ Robson said. “The thing I like about this position is it’s really all on you.’’
It’s his job, Robson said, to turn heads in camp.
“I want people to leave the ice thinking, ‘Wow, this kid can play,’ ’’ he said. “Simple as that.’’