McManus and the No. 8 Gophers take on No. 4 North Dakota in Grand Forks
MINNEAPOLIS - The Gopher Hockey program's rookie class continues to impress in the early going of the season as Brannon McManus netted a hat trick in Minnesota's 6-3 victory over Penn State last Sunday in Minneapolis.
McManus grew up in Newport Beach, California - not exactly a hockey hot bed - but found his way to the Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota where he honed his skills and helped lead the program to the 2014 Toyota/USA Hockey Tier I Youth National Championship, the first ever national Bantam title for SSM. He brings even more championship experience to the table, leading the Chicago Steel to the USHL Clark Cup a season ago and earning a gold medal at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge with the U.S. Junior Select Team.
McManus is not the first California-born player to don the Maroon & Gold (that honor belongs to goaltender John Blue of San Jose, who competed from 1984-87), but he looks to leave a legacy all his own. With a memorable game and a B1G Third Star selection to his name already, he is off to a strong start. Following last weekend's impactful game, GopherSports.com sat down with McManus to discuss his debut season.
GopherSports.com: Gopher Hockey has seen the freshmen class step up in the a big way in the first few games. How have you, personally, and your class in general made the transition so quickly to the next level?
BM: Obviously, it's a bigger step from what we've been used to, either from juniors or Casey Mittelstadt in high school. It's faster, but I feel like we all have our smarts and can think through the game really well. It helps that the boys in the locker room help us by taking us through the ropes and all that.
GS: Speaking of stepping up, you made a definite impact in Sunday's 6-3 win over Penn State when you scored a hat trick. It's cliché, but what was your feeling out on the ice? Did you think it was your day or did it just happen for you?
BM: With the first one, I was just trying to get a shot on-net and get my first goal. Obviously, it felt great, especially doing it here at 3M Arena at Mariucci with all of the people there. When I got the second one, I looked up at the clock and thought, "well, there's still a little bit of time." The boys were all happy for me. When I got the third one - it's still sinking in. It was obviously a special moment.
GS: Had you scored a hat trick before?
BM: I've never had a hat trick in juniors.
GS: So, how does a California kid end up playing hockey?
BM: So, my brothers played roller hockey when I was 3 or 4. They were my role models. Whatever they did, I wanted to do. A few years later, they played ice, so it goes along with that. I went to ice and just fell in love with it. I stuck with it and came to Minnesota to play for [Shattuck-Saint Mary's School]. That's kind of where it all started.
GS: How did you end up coming to the Gophers? Did you have any players on the team that you knew or anyone who influenced you to pick Minnesota?
BM: Just from Shattuck, I got the vibe around Minnesota hockey. Ryan Norman was at school with me. he was a junior and senior. He told me all about it. When [the coaching staff] recruited me and I came for a visit, I knew this was the spot where I wanted to be. I fell in love with it right away.
GS: I'm told former Gopher and current member of the Minnesota Wild, Kyle Rau has had some influence on your career to the point that you wear his number. What's the significance of that to you?
BM: I have his number, and I do get little chirps from the boys. I just like the way he plays, and he's kind of a role model to me. The leader he is, and going from Minnesota to the NHL, it's something I look up to. He is a good role model.
GS: What is your advice to a young athlete who aspires to play college hockey?
BM: Work hard. Just follow what you do, and things will work out for you.
GS: Halloween is just a few weeks away. What's your favorite costume you ever wore as a kid, or maybe as an adult?
BM: My favorite costume was a scary duck - a scary Anaheim Duck. When they were still the Mighty Ducks, I had dressed up in hockey gear and went as a scary Duck.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
BM: That's a tough one. Emilio Estevez from The Mighty Ducks? No, Charlie Conway [actor Joshua Jackson].
What's your favorite hobby?
Golfing or going to the beach
Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
BM: I do, it's kind of embarrassing. "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift. I sing it with one of the boys.
Who is your favorite hockey player in a movie?
Jack O'Callahan from Miracle
If you could play any sport besides hockey at the `U', what would it be?
Who's the best chirper on the team?
Ryan Zuhlsdorf or Ryan Lindgren
What's your favorite class?
BM: Youth Studies. It's me, Mittelstadt, and Lindgren all in the same class. It's really interesting, and we have a good time.
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