The NCAA released its academic progress rates for Division I sports, including men's hockey, came out this week. The Gophers were third in APR among the 12 current WCHA teams in 2009-10, the latest school year for which statistics are available. The U of M is  fourth among conference teams over the latest  four-year stretch.

The APR is based on eligibility and retention of student-athletes on scholarship. The NCAA can impose penalties on programs whose four-year APR average is below 900 or if their  APR for 2009-10 is under 925 and they had an ineligible student-athlete on scholarship leave school.

All 58 men's D-I programs had averages above the 900 threshold from 2006-07 to 2009-10. Four programs, in fact, had perfect APRs of 1,000. They were Boston University, Brown, Princeton and St. Lawrence.

Here is how the 12 teams in the WCHA fared:

School                           4-season APR                 2009-10 APR

Colorado College            988                                     988

Michigan Tech                  987                                   1,000

Denver                               982                                   1,000

Minnesota                         981                                     989

Bemidji State                   978                                     971

North Dakota                    976                                     956 

Wisconsin                         966                                     945

St. Cloud State                  963                                     977

UMD                                    963                                    971

Mn. State Mankato            952                                    929

Nebraska Omaha            937                                    924

Alaska Anchorage            934                                    920

Schools whose 2009-10 APR is under 925 and have an ineligible scholarship student-athlete  leave their program can lose 10 percent of their scholarships; WCHA hockey teams have 18 scholarships available. Other penalties can affect practices and competition.

This year 103 teams at 67 schools face sanctions. That seems like a lot but there are 6,400-some teams. So only 1.6 percent are in trouble.

MSU, UNO and UAA all need to be cautious. They are all just above or just below the 925 threshhold for 2009-10.

Minnesota's multi-year APR of 981  for 2009-10 is its highest in six years. It was 974 in 2004-05, and then it bounced around on both sides of 960 the next four years -- 954, 950, 964, 962.

The Gophers four-year APR of 981 is two points above the national average while its 989 APR for 2009-10 is six points abvove the national average.

 TWO D-MEN LEAVING THEIR TEAMS 

Junior defenseman Blake Kessel of New Hampshire has left the Wildcats program to turn pro.

The 6-2, 205-pound Kessel was drafted by the New York Islanders in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL draft. But since it has been four years since he was drafted, he only has to wait until July to become a free agent.

Kessel had five goals and 22 assists for 27 points in 39 games this season. He was a first team Hockey East all-conference pick.

He is the brother of ex-Gopher Phil Kessel, a forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and of present Gopher women's hockey player Amanda Kessel. His sister was the WCHA rookie of the year.

Blake Kessel played two season at Waterloo in the USHL before starting college hockey.

In the WCHA, junior defenseman Doug Leaverton of Colorado College is transferring. Leaverton is 6-4, 210 but played little late in the season at CC. He plans to transfer to another college team and is considering Ohio State or Penn State.

If he goes to one of those schools, he would have to sit out the 2011-12 season as a transfer and then be able to play one season as a fifth-year senior.

GOPHERS' RECRUITING LIST

Coach Don Lucia is expected to bring in eight freshmen for this coming season -- four forwards, three defenseman an a goalie. That leaves eight committed players who could come in as soon as the 2012-13 season, The list:

Forwards

Justin Kloos, Lakeville South, 5-8, 170

A.J. Michaelson, Apple Valley, 6-1, 180

Connor Reilly, Sioux Falls (USHL), 5-11, 164

Ryan Reilly, Sioux Falls (USHL), 5-7, 158

Defensemen

Mike Reilly, Shattuck-St. Mary's, 5-11, 150

Brady Skjei, under-17 U.S. nat'l team, 6-0, 160

Goalies

Adam Wilcox, Green Bay (USHL), 6-1, 175

Joel Vinneau, Muskegon (USHL), 6-3, 180