Seth Ambroz signed a professional hockey contract on Saturday afternoon less than 24 hours after the Gophers' season ended with a 4-1 defeat to the Minnesota Duluth in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Northeast Region.

The big-bodied senior forward is the first to sign a pro contract in what could be a busy offseason of signings for the Gophers' high-end talent.

Ambroz signed an amateur try-out contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate the Springfield Falcons (Massachusetts). He was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the fifth round (128th overall) in 2011.

"I'm looking forward to this opportunity and to continue my hockey career at the pro level," Ambroz said in a statement. "Playing hockey at the University of Minnesota was a dream come true for me, and I want to thank everyone who helped make that possible -- the coaches and staff, the guys on the team, my family and friends and also all the Gopher fans who have supported the team during my four years at the `U.' "

The alternate captain scored 12 goals and 11 assists in his final season with the Gophers. He played in 159 career games scoring 40 goals, dished out 30 assists and was part of a senior class that won four conference regular-season championships, one conference tournament title, played in two Frozen Fours and one national championship game. He was also a three-time academic all-conference recipient. 

"We certainly wish Seth the best as he takes the next step in his hockey career and thank him for his contributions to Gopher Hockey," coach Don Lucia said. "Like all of our seniors, Seth was a great leader for us and an integral part of the success we've had here at Minnesota over the last four years."