Five freshmen forwards will make their college hockey debut for the Gophers on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena against Vermont. Three will play the center roles on the second, third and fourth lines, with Brent Gates Jr. claiming a spot on the first line at left wing.

Gates will skate alongside junior center Justin Kloos and junior right wing Hudson Fasching, keeping a trend of a freshman earning a role on the top line in each of the last three seasons.

Freshman Tommy Novak will center the second line with Leon Bristedt and Connor Reilly on his wings. Tyler Sheehy will center Taylor Cammarata and Vinni Lettieri on the third line. The fourth line will feature two freshmen with Darian Romanko at center and Jack Ramsey at right wing, and senior A.J. Michaelson at left wing.

The defensive core will start the season with more experience. Three juniors and three sophomores fill out the six defensemen positions. 

Two freshmen goaltenders, Eric Schierhorn and Brock Kautz, were listed as possible starters.

Big questions about how the Gophers will fill big holes are outweighing any big expectations for the young team this season, read more in the season preview. Watch Don Lucia and Justin Kloos preview the season. 

• Season opener: No. 9 Gophers vs. Vermont
7 P.M. VS. Vermont • Mariucci Arena • FSN Plus, 1500-AM

Gophers at a glance: Expect to see a whole new look from the No. 9 Gophers in Saturday’s season opener, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. They graduated six seniors and lost three standout juniors — goalie Adam Wilcox, first-round NHL draft pick Brady Skjei, and two-time All-America defenseman Mike Reilly — to the pros. The 10 freshmen will be expected to contribute right away. Coach Don Lucia hinted he could have three lines centered by freshmen and possibly a rookie in the net. A large junior class, led by captain Justin Kloos and assistant captains Hudson Fasching, Connor Reilly and Jake Bischoff, should help ease the transition. They played a big role in the Gophers’ run to the 2014 national title game. … The game will be streamed on BTN2Go.

Full series preview

• Gophers' lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Brent Gates Jr., Justin Kloos, Hudson Fasching
Leon Bristedt, Tommy Novak, Connor Reilly
Taylor Cammarata, Tyler Sheehy, Vinni Lettieri
A.J. Michaelson, Darian Romanko, Jack Ramsey

Defensemen (left, right)
Nick Seeler, Ryan Collins
Jake Bischoff, Jack Glover
Steve Johnson, Michael Brodzinski

Goaltenders
Eric Schierhorn, Nick Lehr, Brock Kautz