Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gopher Hockey 2012-2013 Season Wrap Up

The 2012-2013 Gopher Hockey season is over. While it didn't end the way that Gopher fans would have liked, they pieced together a good season with some memorable wins. Here is a review of the Gopher players this year, and a preview into next year as to what can be expected of them.

Mark Alt- The Junior has jumped ship for the NHL so won't be returning next season, but has contributed significantly over the past few years to Gopher Hockey. I didn't expect to see Alt leave, but maybe he will fair better at the next level with his style of play. Alt's offensive output certainly dipped from his sophomore season, going from 5 goals and 22 points, to no goals and seven points. However, Alt is known as mainly a defensive defenseman. He looked a bit better in his sophomore season, but I think his defensive style will be better suited for the next level.
Seth Ambroz- I was fairly critical in my disappointment of Seth Ambroz's rookie year as he was a standout player in the USHL. But Ambroz impressed me more this season and doubled his offensive production from eight points to sixteen. Mostly used as a grinding, garbage goal kind of player, Ambroz used his size to get in the corners and dig out loose pucks. He finished with nine goals this season, so I think next season if he could finish in the 10-12 range that would be good progress for him.
Nick Bjugstad- Last night Bjugstad made his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals, recording one shot on goal. He led the Gophers in goals for the second consecutive season. While he may have been keyed on more than last year, slightly inhibiting his offensive production, he still landed in the top 10 in the country in goals. With his size and shot, he should have a good professional career ahead of him. Already in the lineup for the Panthers, he may see a few AHL games this spring, and should spend much of, if not an entire season in the NHL next season.
Travis Boyd- Boyd scored three goals early in the season, three times his rookie goal production. However, he failed to score again the rest of the season. He added eleven assists for fourteen points on the season. Boyd has showed flashes of skill with good hands and puck handling, but really excels in the faceoff circle. He is a great defensive forward who could breakout next season with the talented rookies coming in. If Boyd could get in the neighborhood of 10 goals/20 points next season, that would set him up for a good senior season.
Zach Budish- Budish signed an entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators, where he will likely play a season or two in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL. Budish is a great power forward who is good in front of the net and has good vision on the ice. He has great size, but that limits his speed. If he wants to succeed at the next level, I think he needs to work on his speed a bit, and his game should adapt well to the pro game.
Condon will be a senior on next year's team
Nate Condon- I don't see Condon leaving to play in the AHL/ECHL, so I think he stays to finish out with four-year career with the Gophers. Especially since he will be expected to be a leader on this team, and a possible choice for the captain. Condon went from 8 goals and 17 points, to 11 goals and 30 points, to 12 goals and 31 points. His speed is incredible, and allows him to beat defenseman with simple moves at full speed as opposed to flashy stickhandling. Condon is a great penalty killer, and has
scored his fair share of short-handed goals in his career. If Condon can get to 14-15 points and 34-35 points next year, I think his skill and speed would give him a good shot at making his way up to the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche.
Ryan Coyne- The Gopher's third-string goalie, Coyne didn't see a minute this season. When Matt LaPrade broke his back in the fall, Coyne was brought in as the third goalie. I expect him to transfer after this school year and look for another Division I team that will take him as a third-string or backup goalie, or try and go to a Division III school and be a starter.
Erik Haula- Consistency is Haula's game. He is a constant threat to score or setup a goal for a teammate. He brought his game to a new level this season, playing a better all around game and helping out in the defensive zone, and also scoring 16 goals and 51 points which was a career high. Haula signed with the Minnesota Wild so he won't return for his final season next year. He may see a few games with the Wild next season but will likely be primarily with the Houston Aeros.
Seth Helgeson- Helgeson was the lone senior on this year's team, and has signed with the New Jersey Devils, finishing out the year with their AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils. A big, physical, defensive defenseman, Helgeson needs to work on his puck handling and skating to be a regular at the NHL level. His size and strength are great assets which will help him out.
Justin Holl- Holl is a natural defenseman who saw a little bit of forward last season, and played almost entirely at forward this season. For him personally, I think his development would be best served at defense, but for the team, having him at forward is a great asset. He was great in the corners and cycling the puck down low, and even chipped in a few goals and finishing with seven points on the year. He will return for his senior season, if he is kept at forward, I think he needs to work on his puck handling skills and skating to make it at the next level as a forward. If he is moved back to defense, his great hockey sense will help him, and his experience at forward will help him chip in offensively. At forward I would expect him to end up in the 5-7 goal range and 10-12 points.
Christian Horn- A committed walk-on, Horn only saw action in an exhibition game against the U.S. Development Program U-18 team, recording an assist. With all the departures this year, Horn may find himself getting time on a rotating basis, but probably won't be a weekend regular in the lineup.
Christian Isackson- Didn't see much time as a freshman, but spent some time on the first line this season, and even made his way on the ESPN top 10 plays with a nifty move in tight for a goal against Notre Dame. Isackson possesses a great set of hands and showed if he plays with players who can get him the puck, he can be in position to score. He finished the season with four goals and twenty points. He may benefit from the skilled players coming in next season, but I think he will end up playing a second or third line role. Another 20 point season would be great, but he may not have players with skill like Bjugstad in Rau for many of his points like he did this season. A 25 point season with 5-10 goals would be a good improvement for him.
Matt LaPrade- Although on the roster the entire season, LaPrade broke his back in the fall and was replaced by Ryan Coyne. While Coyne bounced around in junior hockey and didn't see many minutes anywhere, LaPrade played a good share of minutes before coming into Minnesota. I think Coyne transfers, and LaPrade will be the third-string goalie next season.
Jared Larson- After a redshirt season last year, Larson only played four games this year. He will be a fourth-year junior next season, and I expect him to see a few games again next year, but will likely not be a regular in the lineup once again.
Ben Marshall- His 8 goals and 11 assists were good for second on the team among defenseman. He
Defenseman Ben Marshall
will likely return as his role will change and he will be looked at to lead the defensive corps next season, replacing Nate Schmidt. His defensive play improved this year, especially his 1-on-1's. Like Schmidt, he has a great shot from the point, and is exceptional as rushing the puck up the ice and gaining the offensive zone. I think with Marshall's role becoming more important next year and likely seeing a ton of power play minutes, that his production should fall somewhere in the 30 point range.
A.J. Michaelson- Didn't see much ice early in the year but was a regular in the second half. Ended with three goals and six points. Great skater who does well in the corners and can protect the puck well. Will likely be moved up to a third line role next season and see a regular spot in the lineup. If he can get in the 5-7 goal range and around 15 points, that would be good progress for him in his sophomore season.
Jake Parenteau- Played a little forward, but after Holl solidified himself as a solid grinding forward, he returned to the blueline. His two goals and nine points were fourth among defenseman. Not small by any means but Parenteau doesn't have great size for a defenseman. He still throws the body around nonetheless and plays very steady defense. His offensive production won't be that important next season as his role is to continue playing stingy defense, but I think he could see a career high next season in goals and points. Possibly somewhere in the 4g/12pt range.
Kyle Rau- The leading scorer among returning players, Rau finished second on the team in points for the second consecutive year when he posted 15 goals and 40 points. Rau won't have Bjugstad and Budish protecting him next year, but a natural goal scorer knows how to find the net. Rau will be one of the leaders on next year's team. Since he won't be playing with his linemates from the last two seasons, I think if Rau could end up with 40 points again that would be impressive. If he could get more than 15 goals and 40 points, then I think he solidifies himself as an elite player at the college level, regardless of who he is playing with.
Connor Reilly- Redshirted this season, but had the most impressive statistics of the three Reilly brothers. I think he will find himself on one of the top two lines, however. He proved in both the USHL and BCHL he can score goals and put up points. so we will see how he does early next season. If he could get around 10 goals and 20 points in his rookie season that would be good, any better would be very impressive.
Mike Reilly- Finished with three goals and fourteen points and third among Gopher defenseman. He is an incredibly smooth skating defenseman and is great with the puck. Will likely be the number two defenseman behind Ben Marshall next year but could battle for the number one spot. Should end up in the 20-25 point range and see a slight increase in his goal production.
Ryan Reilly- Scored one goal and one assist in his rookie season, appearing in only eight games. With all the departures, he will likely be see a rotating basis on which he plays, and may see up to half the games next season. His statistics will depend on how much he plays.
Nate Schmidt- Signed a deal with the Washington Capitals, playing with the Hershey Bears for the remainder of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he sees a few games next season, but don't know if he can earn a regular spot in the lineup for a couple years. Finished first among defenseman with 9 goals and 32 points.
Tom Serratore- One of my favorite players to watch, Serratore is a great penalty killer, and overall the definition of a grinder. He plays entirely a third/fourth line role, plays gritty and in the corners, and uses his great speed to create a few scoring opportunities. Finished with a career high seven goals and career high eight points. It will be hard for him to beat his goal total from this season as he will likely be playing a third/fourth line role again in his senior season.
Michael Shibrowski- Saw about a game and a half's worth of minutes this season, which probably won't change a lot next season as Wilcox will return as the number one goalie. He will remain in the number two spot, and may see a couple of games in his senior season.
Gopher forward Sam Warning
Brady Sjkei- Finished with one goal and three points, playing in the majority of games in his rookie season. Will be a regular on the blueline next year, and should see an increase in his production.
Sam Warning- 8 goals and 23 points in only 29 games. Warning struggled to find himself in the lineup the first half of the season, but was a regular in the second half. It is clear he has a lot of natural skill,
and has a knack for putting the puck in the net. His role should increase next season, but with the young talent coming in, Lucia could bury him on the depth charts. I think he would be a good fit on the second line, and should end up in the 10-12 goal range and possibly 30 points in his junior season.
Adam Wilcox- Wilcox came in battling for the number one spot, but once the season started, he was the go-to guy between the pipes. Wilcox seemed to always put his team in the position to win, which shouldn't change next season as he will undoubtedly be the starter.

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