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Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Preseason 2014: Freshmen Preview

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The Gophers recruits this year come from one of two places: the greater Twin Cities metro and Sweden.

Elsa

Just about the only players I haven't covered so far this year are the freshman.  I planned that, because they're getting their own post.  Four of the newbs are definitely ONE OF US.  Two of them went to high school together at Benilde- St. Margaret's, another played for Minnetonka.  The only east-sider went to Roseville.

The two remaining recruits are Swedish.  He's what I know about Sweden, their national team's colors look a lot like Michigan's.  I'm going to try not to hold that against them.

Ryan Collins, Defenseman, Bloomington (Benilde)

Collins is a 6 ft, 202 lb defensemen who played his high school hockey at Benilde St. Margaret's.  He spent last year with the US National U-18 squad.  He only had two points in 26 appearances, both assists, but he finished the campaign with a +12 mark.  He'll be looking to fill the shoes of graduated seniors Justin Holl and Jake Parenteau.

Jack Glover, Defenseman, Golden Valley (Benilde)

Like Collins, Glover played his high school puck at Benilde, and spent last year with the US U-18s.  Unlike Collins, he spent the prior year with the US National Development Team.  He's a 6 ft, 190 lb defender.  In 61 appearances in the US system, he had two goals and fourteen assists.  Two years ago on the development team, his +/- was an ugly -24, but last year improved to +4.  I'm not going to act like +/- is the end-all-be-all of hockey stats, but i'm happy to see improvement.

Steve Johnson, Defenseman, Exelsior (Minnetonka)

Johnson spent the last two seasons in junior hockey, first with the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL and then with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.  If you've ever wondered what the advantage of junior hockey is, here you go: Johnson appeared in 115 games in the past two years.  That's a lot of games.  Johnson might be the most offensively talented of the group of freshman defensemen.  He had 54 points in those 115 games, including 11 goals.

Leon Bristedt, Forward, Stockholm, Sweden

Stay with me here, this is where the research is going to get a little difficult.  Bristedt has played for Linköpings HC since 2011, when he was 16 years old.  With that club, he's played in several different leagues, including the Swedish Junior 18 Elites, Junior 18 & 20 Super Elites, the Junior 18 Allsvenskan, and the Swedish World Junior Classic team.  Does that make sense?  Good.  Me either.  Don't worry, it gets easier.  Bristedt had 152 points in 145 games for Linköpings HC (74 G, 78A).

In an effort to advocate for student athletes, the NCAA has banned Bristedt from the first two games of the season because his former club played a paid player on his team.  The NCAA, punishing players for circumstances outside their control.  Well done, NCAA.

Robin Höglund, Forward, Molndal Sweden

Höglund is from Sweden, but he's been playing hockey in the US Juniors since 2011.  He spent time with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Soo Eagles, and Janesville Jets (all of the NAHL).  Prior to those stints, he spent two years in the same Swedish leagues as Bristedt.  Since 2009, Höglund has played in 201 games, scored 66 goals and assisted on 53 others.

Nick Lehr, Goaltender, Roseville

It's hard to look at Lehr as a true freshman, as he's already 21 years old.  He's spent the last three seasons with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL.  He's the heir apparent to the Gophers goal crease because he put up some ridiculous stats in the last three seasons.  In his first year, fifty games played, he averaged 2.68 goals against.  In the second year, that dropped to 2.39.  Last year, he posted a Wilcox-esque 1.84 goals against average.  Also in that last year, a 0.932 save percentage.  Lehr likely has some game, and he should make Gophers fans feel much more secure moving into the post-Wilcox era, whenever that era begins (hopefully later rather than sooner).