Gophers hockey incoming freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli will leave the program and school, the team announced on Tuesday.

"After a few weeks of trying to balance academics and athletics, Tommy made the decision this morning that college hockey was not the best route for him at this time," coach Don Lucia said.

Vannelli, a 2013 Star Tribune boys' hockey all-metro first-teamer, was expected to play a significant role for the Gophers this season. He scored eight goals and had 23 assists for Minnetonka High School last season.

JASON GONZALEZ

Benilde-SM placed in Metro West

Benilde-St. Margaret's was assigned to the new Metro West Conference by the Minnesota State High School League placement committee, a move that disappointed present conference schools.

The Metro West, which begins in 2014-15, had seven public schools displaced by various dissolving conferences: Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Chanhassen, Chaska, Cooper, Richfield and St. Louis Park.

Benilde-St. Margaret's, a private school located in St. Louis Park, had applied to join the Metro West, Lake and Northwest Suburban conferences, but all three turned the Red Knights down. That left it up to the placement committee. The league's four criteria for placing a school are enrollment, geography, conference structure and comparable programs.

Andy Ewald, activities director at St. Louis Park, said the Metro West presented data on the numbers of students in its schools who speak English as a second language and those on free and reduced lunch to show the disparities with Benilde-St. Margaret's.

"We felt strongly about the data we sent to the Minnesota State High School League about why Benilde-St. Margaret's does not belong with us and why they would be a better fit in the Lake Conference," Ewald said. "And it was exciting from an athletics standpoint to be able to say there isn't one program that makes you think, 'Gosh, we're never going to beat this school.' So this takes some luster off it."

DAVID LA VAQUE

Another award for Lynx's Moore

Lynx forward Maya Moore took one more step toward a possible MVP award by being the WNBA's Western Conference player of the month for September. In the Eastern Conference, Chicago center Sylvia Fowles got the award. Both were repeat winners from August.

Moore averaged 18 points per game and shot 52.3 percent from the field this month for the Lynx, who went 4-1 to finish with a league-best 26-8 regular-season mark.

Etc.

• The Gophers women's golf team took third place in the Minnesota Invitational at the Minikahda Club. Anna Laorr finished 13th with a 229 to lead the Gophers, who finished with a 54-hole total of 911. Kent State won the 12-team event with a 902, one shot better than Illinois.

Richard Blooston and Tim Gonsior won the 40th MGA Senior Four-Ball Championship with a closing 65 for an 8-under 134 at Bent Creek Golf Club in Eden Prairie.