Sam Warning, one of the top scorers in the USHL playoffs, has signed with the Gophers. The 5-9, 175-pound forward has four goals and three assists for seven points in six games.
That ties him for fifth in postseason scoring with four other USHL players. He had 24 goals and 19 assists for 43 points in 56 regular-season games. He is a plus-17 overall.
This is Warning's second USHL season. He is from Chesterfield, Mo., and turns 19 on Sept. 29. Chesterfield is a second-ring, western suburb of St. Louis.
Now that he has signed, Warning can work out with his future Gopher teammates this summer. But it may be 2012-13 before he joins the Gophers because they have 16 forwards already -- unless somebody leaves early. That's four extra forwards.
Here is a possible lineup, with player's year in school comenext fall:
LW C RW
Kyle Rau, fr. Nick Bjugstad, so. Zach Budish, redshirt so.
Comments: Rau is a sniper who led Eden Prairie H.S. to Class 2A state title and is leading USHL in scoring in the playoffoffs. He has seven goals and four assists for 11 points in eight games. Bjugstad started dominating late in his first season. Budish is a big body who should be able to get puck out of corners.
Nate Condon, so. Erik Haula, so. Seth Ambroz, fr.
Comments: Haula started season fast on first line, ended playing with broken foot. Condon played center a lot last season, so he can handle the puck. Ambroz is a power forward with three USHL seasons behind him.
Max Gardiner, so. Taylor Matson, sr. Jake Hansen, sr.
Comments: Matson is the team captain but, in three seasons, has never finished a season healthy. Gardiner played sparingly last season. Hansen came on strong at end of junior year. Could be top two RW.
Tom Serratore, so. Nico Sacchetti, sr. Nick Larson, sr.
Comments: Sacchetti and Larson could easily switch spots on this line or play on the third line if needed.
That still leaves four players fighting for playoff time. Gophers will probably shuffle their lineup some, as they do every year. Also injuries and illnesses will undoubtedly come up.
Jared Larson, so, LW or C
Joe Miller, sr., LW or RW
Christian Isackson, fr., RW
Travis Boyd, fr., LW ... he accelerated high school education to join team early, played on under-18 U.S. team. Gophers could ask him to play a season of juniors.