Well after last night's 6-1 loss to Boston College, the Minnesota Gophers are finished for the 2011-2012 season. Not the way they would have wanted to go out, but making it as far as they did is something to hold their heads high about. A team that was predicted to finish somewhere in the middle of the WCHA after last season, and a #14 preseason ranking, the Gophers started out hot and had a good playoff run. If all top players return for next season, they should have themselves another chance at making a run to the Frozen Four. Here is my summary of each player from this season:
Mark Alt- Alt had a good season, although I feel like he started out better than he finished. He contributed on offense, and was defensively sound all year. Should play a big role on the blue line next season.
Seth Ambroz- Played mostly 3rd line throughout the year, disappointed from what I had expected from his junior hockey statistics. Big kid, grinder type, don't see his role changing much for next year.
Nick Bjugstad- Bjugstad came hot out of the gate to start the season, scoring goals at a rapid pace. He established himself as one of the premier players in the WCHA, and if he sticks around could make a case for himself as a Hobey Baker candidate next season.
Travis Boyd- Boyd didn't score a goal until the 2nd to last game of the season, but was one of my favorite players to watch. He plays well in the defensive zone, creates scoring opportunities from his great passing, and he wins quite a few draws. He should play a bigger role next season.
Zach Budish- Budish had a good year, playing with Bjugstad and Rau. He will probably be back next year which would be good for that line assuming Bjugstad stays. He is a big body, and sees the ice well.
Nate Condon- Condon played 3rd line for a lot of the season, but I think next year he will play a big role on this Gopher squad. His speed is incredible, which helped him score 4 shorthanded goals this season. He is a great skater and can put the puck away.
Jake Hansen- Stepped it up big time this season. After watching him tear it up his junior year for White Bear Lake, I expected him to be a star for the Gophers. He has done alright for himself, but in his senior campaign really came to play. Will likely find an AHL roster spot next season.
Erik Haula- I would expect him to come back next year, seeing as how the wild have prospects ranked ahead of him. He came on hot towards the end of the season when Bjugstad's scoring started slowing down. Shoots a little too much on the power play, but can put the puck away as good as anyone.
Seth Helgeson- Big defenceman, not a whole lot of offense to his game but is usually pretty good about moving guys out in front of the net.
Justin Holl- Holl is good at escape moves and getting away from forecheckers in the D-zone, but sometimes tries to do a little too much rushing the puck. Should be back next year in what could be a breakout season for him.
Christian Isackson- Saw limited amounts of ice this season, but didn't do anything to hurt the team while on the ice. Should see more ice time next year.
Jake Kremer- The practice/3rd string goalie is probably going to hang the skates up after graduating this spring, but he was along for the ride and wore the maroon and gold proud for four seasons.
Jared Larson- Redshirted this season, saw little ice last season, but with a few forwards graduating, he could find himself in a rotation position to get a few games in here and there.
Nick Larson- Although he was drafted in 2007, I imagine Nick Larson will hang the skates up after this season. He has been a fun player to watch in that he is always energetic and putting forth 100% effort in any role Lucia put him in over the last 4 seasons.
Ben Marshall- Marshall had a pretty solid freshman campaign. He's a real smooth skater who's very good with the puck. Needs to work on his 1-on-1's a little bit as he got blown by a few times this year adapting to the speed of NCAA hockey. Expect him to have a very good season next year.
Taylor Matson- Matson was a good example of a fearless leader. He worked hard every shift he was on the ice, and contributed a decent amount too. I would expect to see him in the ECHL next season, possibly cracking an AHL lineup if he doesn't head over seas to a Euro league.
Joey Miller- A locker room and fan favorite. Miller always has a smile on his face, and a real love for the game. It was very exciting seeing him score in his first game this season. Team's pick for assistant captain this season. I don't expect to see him playing after this year, but with the heart he shows on the ice, could maybe see him playing for an ECHL team or a lower level professional league.
Jake Parenteau- I enjoyed watching Parenteau this season. He didn't play much last season but stepped in as a regular night in and night out and played steady defense. Doesn't get beat much and plays a physical game. Can rush the puck decently, although he doesn't score a lot. Should have a very good junior season next year.
Kent Patterson- One of the best goaltending seasons in recent memory, Patterson was the backbone of this Minnesota squad. Like any goalie, let up some goals he'd like to have back, but should be proud of the season he put together. He is drafted, and I would expect to see him play somewhere in the AHL/ECHL.
Kyle Rau- Couldn't have asked for a better freshman season. Lead freshman scoring in the nation all season long. Didn't expect him to step in as a true freshman and have the impact that he did. He's a natural goal scorer who is only going to get better in the coming years.
Nico Sachetti- Didn't have the career most expected him to have after the hype coming in as a freshman, but played a good 3rd/4th line role and scored a few big goals in his career. I could see Sachetti in a ECHL lineup next season.
Nate Schmidt- What a jump from last season. Hardly playing, playing a little bit of forward, and now this season leading the nation in assists for a good part of the season. Schmidt is a smart puck handler and sees the ice well. He also has a cannon of a shot, and I expect him to have another huge season next year.
Tom Serratorre- Love watching his enthusiasm on the ice. Throws the body around, has great speed, and does the little things right.
Michael Shibrowski- Didn't see him play this season, but he should get a chance to be the starter next year, probably battling with incoming goaltender Adam Wilcox.
Chris Student- Only played 1 game this season, will probably rotate next season to get a little more experience, but the defensive lineup isn't losing anyone to graduation, so it might be a similar situation as this year for Student.
Blake Thompson- Played a couple games early in the season and racked up a couple of assists. He's a big kid who could be good in the next few years for the Gophers. Will likely see a few more games next season
Sam Warning- Showed some bright spots early in the season, then slumped for a bit, then improved towards the end. A fast skater, plays well in the offensive zone, and I would expect to see him somewhere in the 10-15 goal range next season.