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Gopher Hockey Preview - Part II - Defenders

Previously: The Goaltenders

Alright. The Gopher defense didn't have the best 2008-09 season. giving up 2.4 goals per game on 29.2 shots, and  the opposition scored 8 short handed goals. However, the penalty kill was at 87%, which was best in school history. What follows are short capsules of the returning and new defensemen for the 2009-10 Gophers.

Remember: a preview of the forwards is here at TDG on Wednesday, along with a season / North Dakota series preview on Friday, and short game recaps the day (at the latest) after every Gopher game this season. I may even live-blog some games depending on how things go (basketball, Brewster, interest).

Cade Fairchild (Jr., Duluth, MN) - Cade played 35 games in 2008-09, finishing with 9 goals and 23 assists. A little bit on the smallish side (5-11, 186 lbs.), if Fairchild develops muscle and has a power play target to feed assists to, he could have a highly successful junior year.

David Fischer (Sr, Apple Valley, MN) - Played in 31 games due to a leg injury suffered against North Dakota. Remember when he was selected in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the First Round? And, he's still here? That's not a good thing, I guess. He had 13 points last year and is a tall, physical presence at 6-3, 200 lbs. He needs to shore up the blue line and earn his pro stripes in his final chance with the Gophers.

Sam Lofquist (So, Somerset, WISCONSIN) - Yep, the only non-Minnesotan, though he looks the part. And isn't Somerset full of Minnesotans because of the old X Fest and the Apple River?

Whatever. his Dad was a Viking so we'll take him. Lofquist had four points last year.

Aaron Ness (So., Roseau, MN) - played in every game last year, scored 17 points, and was the MVP of the Dodge Holiday Classic. He was on a line with David Fischer most of the year, and has the opportunity to rekindle the partnership this season.

Brian Schack (Sr., Lino Lakes, MN) - a 6-2, 225 lb. bruiser, that's unfortunately what he's remembered for from last year, when he fought Mankato defender Channing Boe after Boe ran Jay Barribal. Boe suffered an ankle injury during the scrum, and Schack suffered the Lucia doghouse as a result. Not a candidate for a lot of playing time this year, but at least he's an academic all-star.

Kevin Wehrs (Jr., Plymouth, MN) - Played in 33 games last year, totaling 6 points. Partnered Sam Lofquist most of last year, will probably be a bit player this year.

The Newbies

Seth Helgeson (Fr., Faribault, MN) - Comes to Minnesota from the USHL and has a great Nick Carter circa-Millenium CD haircut.  He also was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round of the 2009 Entry Draft.

Nick Leddy (Fr., Eden Prairie, MN) - if you follow hockey in Minnesota, you know of this kid. He's a member of the 2009-2010 WCHA preseason all rookie team, was Mr. Hockey last year, led Eden Prairie to the Class AA State Title, and was chosen by the home-town hockey club in the first round of the 2009 draft. He will be asked to do big things as a freshmen. If he can deliver, the Gophers will have a great backline and a superb power play.