Bjugstad leads the Gophers with nine goals.
GopherSports.com: Why do you wear No. 27?
Nick Bjugstad: I have always liked the number since I was little. My uncle Scott Bjugstad wore it when he played for the U back in the 1980s. I have always looked up to him as a hockey player and a person, so I like to wear that number. I have worn it since high school.
GS: How has your uncle Scott helped your career?
NB: He had a good career here at Minnesota and went on to play in the NHL. I never got to see him play in the NHL, but I have seen videos. He is still doing shooting clinics and has helped me with my shooting since I was little.
GS: How has he helped you with your shot?
NB: He has taken me out on the ice and has broken down my entire shot and given me really good advice. He tells me what I should be doing with my shot. He has been through it all in hockey, so he knows what is going on.
GS: He had a pretty hard shot back when he played.
NB: He still has a rocket. I didn't get to see it when he was playing, but from what I hear he scored a lot of goals and was also really good around the net.
GS: You are the tallest player on the team at 6 feet 5 inches. Have you always been taller than your peers?
NB: I think I was 5 feet 8 inches in eighth grade and at the end of my freshman year in high school I was about 6 feet 2 inches, so I had a nice growth spurt there.
GS: The sophomore class is pretty large in numbers and a lot of the players are from the area. Was it weird at the beginning playing against some of these guys in high school and then being their teammate in college?
NB: Yeah, that was pretty weird at the beginning. I played against Justin Holl, Mark Alt and Kyle Rau a lot in high school. It is cool playing with them now because we had some battles in high school.
GS: Give us a good story from high school that involves one of your Minnesota teammates.
NB: That has to be the semifinals of the state tournament my junior year against Eden Prairie. Kyle Rau scored some goals off some of our guys shin pads. He had two goals after we were up 2-0 on them, so I definitely look back on that and am a little bit sour about that. They knocked us out and ended up winning the entire thing.
GS: Does he ever bring that up?
NB: Oh yeah, he will ask me how many rings I have.
GS: You also played tennis in high school and were 18-0 in doubles your junior year. You had to miss the section tournament to participate in the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto. Just how good were you?
NB: I wasn't that good fundamentally. My partner was pretty good. We were both pretty tall and we kind of figured out how to get to the net and figured out how to win. We were not that skilled, but figured out how to win.
Bjugstad was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers.
NB: That was pretty cool. I had never been to Los Angeles before, so that was fun. It was a surreal moment. I watched the draft all the time when I was younger and never thought I would be up there. It was exciting being there.
GS: You have scored show highlight-reel goals this year. Have you ever had to say, "Wow, that just happened," after any of them?
NB: The puck just landed on my stick when we were at Minnesota Duluth earlier this year (VIDEO of goal). Zach Budish made a good play and I did not expect to get that much room from their defender. I was able to score and that was probably my favorite or most exciting goal this year.
GS: You have taken only two penalties this year for four minutes, after taking 20 penalties for 51 minutes last year. What has been the key for you to stay out of the box?
NB: Last year, I was in the dressing room five minutes into the first game of the season because of a penalty. That was not very fun for me, but I learned my lesson. I took a lot of penalties last year and tried cut down on them this year by moving my feet a little bit more and using my stick a little bit more.
GS: What else have you learned from freshman to sophomore year?
NB: You have to be dialed in every game. You cannot take anyone lightly because everyone in our league is good.
GS: How would you describe this year's team to somebody who has not seen you guys play?
NB: I think we are a hard-working and gritty team that has a little bit of skill as well. I think we have all the right ingredients to be a good team.