By Jackson Riebel
Series Preview | Gopher Hockey Tickets
MINNEAPOLIS – After last weekend's series at Michigan, the No. 7/6 Gopher Hockey program will look to get back on track in this weekend’s series with No. 13/11 Harvard. The Crimson arrive in Minneapolis after dropping a pair of games against Colgate and Cornell last weekend.
Rossini Exceeding Expectations
While he’s appeared in only four game throughout the first third of the season, freshman defenseman Sam Rossini has made the most of his limited opportunities. Rossini has scored two goals in only five shots and is tied with sophomore Ryan Lindgren in leading Gopher defensemen in scoring. Rossini’s production has been a pleasant surprise for Head Coach Don Lucia.
“The goals are a bonus,” Lucia remarked Wednesday. “I don’t think we expected him to lead our back end in goals at this point in the season. We need him to defend, be a hard guy to play against, and be a good penalty killer more than anything else. He has two nice goals, one shorthanded jumping up into the play [in a 6-3 win over Penn State], and then certainly with the two cracks at it at Michigan, scoring on the second one. Getting the puck through, that’s an art for a defenseman, being able to get a puck through to the net.”
Lucia noted that inserting Rossini as a seventh defenseman brings an added element of flexibility to the lineup.
“We’ve played some eleven and seven, and from a defensive standpoint it allows us to get more of the freshmen involved in the game with the comfort of knowing one of the veterans is still available to us. From a forward standpoint, it allows us to mix and match. We’ve scored the most goals when we’ve played with eleven instead of twelve. It allows us to get our top end guys out a little bit more… They like the fact that they’re playing with different guys throughout the game, that there’s not static lines.”
Minnesota has averaged four goals in games they’ve played with the extra defensemen as opposed to only 2.5 when playing with a standard lineup twelve forwards and six defensemen.
Rossini is slated to be in the Minnesota lineup for the series opener on Friday.
Familiar Faces in Town
Multiple Gopher players will square off against old teammates this weekend when Harvard’s Ben Foley and Henry Bowlby return to their home state. Foley and Bowlby, both freshmen, joined Gopher underclassmen Ryan Zuhlsdorf, Tyler Nanne, and Cullen Munson on an Edina Hornets team that won the 2014 MSHSL AA State Championship. Zuhlsdorf smiled and offered a playful warning when asked about his old teammates Wednesday.
“I know those guys pretty well going back to the high school and youth days. You might see me give them a poke or shove after the whistle”
Foley, Nanne, and Munson also skated with Gopher senior Connor Hurley while winning the 2013 state title for Edina.
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