April 3, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota captain Zach Budish has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL). Milwaukee is the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, who inked Budish to a two-year entry level deal on Wednesday after dfafting Budish in the second round (41st overall pick) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to play for the University of Minnesota, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to live out my dream of being a Gopher," Budish said. "I'd like to thank the Minnesota staff, my teammates and our fans for their support over the last four years."
In 129 career games with the Maroon and Gold, Budish tallied 94 points and 35 goals and helped the Gophers to two-straight MacNaughton Cups as Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season champions as well as two NCAA tournament berths including the team's run to the Frozen Four in 2011-12.
After missing his senior prep season at Edina with a knee injury, Budish tallied 17 points and seven goals as a freshman in 2009-10 before a season-ending injury just seven games into the 2010-11 season. Budish returned to the Gophers lineup in 2011-12 as a redshirt sophomore and served as an alternate captain while tallying 35 points and 14 goals. Budish and the Gophers captured the team's first MacNaughton Cup since 2006-07 and returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the 20th time in program history and the first time since 2005.
Budish was named team captain prior to the 2012-13 season and set career highs with 36 points and 14 goals as Minnesota rallied late in the season for its second MacNaughton Cup in a row. Budish finished tied for third in scoring on the nation's top offense and was a key role player with the NCAA's best power-play unit. Under Budish's leadership, the Gophers led the WCHA in scoring offense, scoring defense, power play and penalty kill while the program ranked among the top 10 programs nationally in all four categories.
"Zach has had to overcome two major knee surgeries in the last five years to become one of the best power forwards in college hockey," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "He played a pivotal role on our top two lines and was a great leader on and off the ice. Although he could have returned, he will graduate this spring and will have the chance to begin his pro career with Nashville. I want to thank Zach for all he did for Gopher hockey the last four years."
Budish is the third member of the 2012-13 Gophers squad to sign a professional contract after Nate Schmidt joined the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and Nick Bjugstad signed with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.
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Follow the action as the Gophers kick off Big Ten play on Friday against Penn State. Game time is set for 7 pm.