Minnesota Gophers Men’s Hockey: Five players to watch


Fall is here and the skates are back on the ice. Let’s check out which Minnesota Gophers we should be watching out for.

The Minnesota Gophers finished last season 23-12-3 and placed first in the Big Ten Conference. Minnesota has won its conference every year since Big Ten hockey was created, in 2013.

Minnesota is set to have another dominant year in the Big Ten. The Gophers will be looking for redemption after a rough 2-3 overtime loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Here are five players that will have an impact on Minnesota’s success this season:

Tyler Sheehy #22, Jr. Forward (Burnsville, MN)

Sheehly had a highlight season last year, he scored 20 goals and tallied 33 assists, showing that he’s a powerful presence on the ice.

Sheehy brings some physicality to his game. He’s a grinder, and knows exactly where to be on the ice to make the best opportunities happen. He has a hockey IQ that is nothing short of excellent.

With the departure of team captain, Justin Kloos, there was a void in who would lead this team. Sheehly will take on the role of captain this season, hopefully leading the Gophers to another Big Ten Championship and a deep NCAA tournament run during his junior campaign.

He was a top-ten Hoeby Baker finalist, the only sophomore on that list. Also, he was selected First Team All-American.

Eric Schierhorn #37, Jr. Goalie (Anchorage, Alaska)

Snapping necks and cashing checks. That’s what Schierhorn has been doing ever since joining the Gophers in 2015. The Gophers crease has been Schierhorn’s since joining the program.

Schierhorn’s only stat that seems to be a little shaky is his goals against average (2.61). This is a significant difference compared to his counterparts across the league.

Other than that, Schierhorn played in all 38 games last season. He won Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and was named to the First Team All-Big Ten. Also, he led the Big Ten with 984 saves, 23 wins and five shutouts.

He recorded career numbers as well. Schierhorn posted a .908 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

During his junior campaign expect him to have another solid season. Don’t be surprised if Schierhorn is named a Mark Richter Award finalist at the end of the year. The Mark Richter Award recognizes the best goaltenders in the nation.

Leon Bristedt #18, Sr. Forward (Stockholm, Sweden)

Bristedt had 33 points last season, second in points for returning players. Last season, he tallied 12 goals and 21 assists.

According to the Gophers hockey website, the Gophers were 7-1 when he scored a goal and 9-2 when he scored multiple points

There were six seniors last season and there are six seniors this season. Bristedt was named an alternate captain during the off-season. Look for him to be apart of that small, but strong senior class leadership.

With this being Bristedt’s senior year, he will want to leave everything on the ice. He has yet to be drafted by the NHL. Bristedt and Sheehy, as upperclassmen, will look to lead this team to the promise land this season.

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Ryan Lindgren #5, So. Defense (Minneapolis, MN)

Lindgren had quite the freshmen campaign. He played in 32 games. A violent leg injury derailed his season. He slid feet first into the boards, requiring surgery, he missed out on the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

He managed to score a goal, tallied six assists and had a +9 when he was on the ice. Also, he is a pure defensemen who is not afraid to get in front of the puck. He recorded 50 blocked shots, behind only Jake Bischoff, who had 88.

Lindgren will be alongside Bristedt as an alternate captain. A larger role will be expected out of him, because of the absence of stud defensemen, Bischoff.

The Boston Bruins selected Lindgren in the second round, 49th overall of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Casey Mittelstadt #21, Fr, Forward (Eden Prairie, MN)

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A newcomer to the program, but not a newcomer to the state of Minnesota. Mittelstadt led the Eden Prairie Eagles to four straight tournament bids. He was Minnesota’s 2017 Mr. Hockey Award recipient and was named 2017 USA Today All-USA Athlete of The Year.

During his senior year he was able to juggle playing hockey for two different teams.  He played 25 games with Eden Prairie, he scored 21 goals and dished out 43 assists. When he played for the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) he tallied 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 games.

Hopefully, Gophers head coach Don Lucia will utilize Mittlestadt effectively. Time will tell how long MIttlestadt stays a Gopher, considering he was drafted 8th overall in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.

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