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News, Notes and Tid-Bits from Gophers Hockey Media Day

10/03/2012, 8:15pm CDT
By Simon Gondeck

The Gophers are embracing the lofty expecations for the 2012-13 season.

Coach Don Lucia met with the media today to preview the 2012-2013 season. A few of the highlights, including interviews with Nick Bjugstad and Nate Schmidt as well as Coach Lucia are highlighted below.

First things first:

·         This is the last year that the Gophers will play in the WCHA. They have been playing in the WCHA since 1951. They will join the new Big Ten Conference starting next season

·         Coach Lucia still hasn’t named a starting goalie and plans to take it game by game until one emerges

·         The goalie competition is between junior Michael Shibrowski and freshman Adam Wilcox, both Minnesota natives

Don Lucia:

On goalie situation…

“We don’t have any set goalie. We will let them play. We’ve had limited viewing with our practices so far. Until you start playing games you don’t know.”

“Both Shibrowski and Wilcox have a lot of potential.”

“The expectation is one of those guys is going to get a opportunity to play on a nightly basis.”

On losing highly touted freshman Conor Reilly to a torn ACL…

“Losing Conor, who we probably felt was our top incoming freshman forward, it takes a hit.”

On so many talented defenseman…

“We have options. There’s been a thought of maybe redshirting somebody, and that’s something were really going to have to think about before our exhibition on Saturday night, because if we play somebody then that counts as a year of eligibility. We want to make sure our top 18 players are dressing and if that means moving a defenseman up to forward for a period at a time then we may do that.”

On leadership…

“I think our group of captains this year work extremely hard and when your best players are good workers that’s when you have good teams. Their good teammates and want to be successful and understand what it takes to be successful.”

Nick Bjugstad – Junior Forward

Last season: 25 goals, 17 assists

On expectations this season…

“The pre-season rankings come out and everybody talks about that but that obviously doesn’t mean much. Hopefully we can keep that momentum, I think that will be important. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and we really have to prove ourselves. We had a great team last year with some great seniors. We’re going to have some shoes to fill.”

On returning for his junior season…

“It took me a awhile to decide. I wanted to weigh my pros and cons and I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. In the long run another year at school will help me develop. I think our team coming back on paper is pretty good. We’re another contender this year and hopefully we can put another good season like last year.”

On the last year in the WCHA…

“Obviously playing teams like UMD and North Dakota are really exciting when you get out there and playing them, especially with the fans. It’s going to be a transition to the Big Ten but I think in the long run it’ll be great. So we’re just going to try to enjoy the WCHA this year. It’s been a great league ever since it has started.”

On possibly getting injured and turning down pro money…

“That didn’t play a factor. You think about the money and I’m 20 years old and I’m getting an education and enjoying my time here. The money didn’t weigh a factor and we didn’t discuss money. It was whether to stay or leave.”

Nate Schmidt – Junior Defenseman

Last season: 3 goals, 38 assists

On leadership with just one senior on the roster…

“Our leaders, between Nick Bjugstad, Seth Helgeson, and Zach Budish have done a great job of getting our freshman guys rallied around our tradition. Leadership is not going to be a issue. We have a committee of juniors that have been here for a while that can bridge any gaps that we have with having only one senior. The incoming guys realize what’s at stake this year. “

On opening regular season play against Michigan State…

“It’s a bad taste in the mouth after what we dealt with things here last year. It’s something I was really excited for after I saw Michigan State first on the schedule and obviously a future Big Ten opponent. Obviously it gets us ready to go.”

On the last year playing in the WCHA and moving to the Big Ten next year…

“It puts a little more on the line. We get to move on and play some new opponents with some different stakes at hand but at the same time we still have our traditional rivals for this last year and the last bragging rights for the WCHA. It’s something we obviously think of. Whoever takes it home will have a lot of bragging rights from here on out.”

The Gophers open up action in an exhibition game vs. Lethbridge on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7pm at Mariucci Arena.

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