The third part of our position by position look at the 2020-21 Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team is a preview of the forwards. As deep as Minnesota is on the blue line, they may be even deeper at forward where the Gophers return their top six point scorers from a season ago. In fact the Gophers have back 93.0 percent of its goal scoring and 87.2 percent of its points from a year ago. Assuming several of those players have taken another step forward, and it could be a very productive Gopher offense.
Brannon McManus—Senior—Newport Beach, CA
Brannon McManus is a player for Minnesota who has improved every single season while wearing the maroon and gold. The assistant captain played in all 37 games last season for Minnesota and recorded career highs in both points and assists with 27 points and 18 assists. He can also put the puck in the net dropping from a career high in goals of 14 in his sophomore year to just nine a season ago. McManus will be one of Minnesota’s top six forwards and will see significant time on the special teams units as well.
Cullen Munson—Senior—Edina, MN
Munson saw his role increase a season ago as a junior. He played in 16 of the Gophers 37 games and scored two goals including the game winner in Game 2 of the Gophers Big Ten Playoff series win over Notre Dame, Mullen once again will most likely be in a rotation for one of the final spots on the Gophers fourth line this season.
Scott Reedy-Senior-Prior Lake, MN
Reedy is another Gopher who has improved every single season he has played. He broke out in his junior season playing 35 games and leading the Gophers in goals with 15. he nearly doubled his point total from his first two years as a Gopher last season and is another player who Minnesota hopes will continue to step up and lead this offense.
Sammy Walker—Junior—Edina, MN
Sammy Walker enters his junior season with the Gophers having being named the Captain for the second consecutive season Walker was a Preseason All-Big Ten first team selection and led the Gophers a year ago in points with 30 and assists with 19. His 11 goals were good enough for third on the roster. Walker’s speed makes him a threat every time he touches the puck and he makes the Gophers a better team everytime he can find the back of the net. Minnesota was 8-2-1 when he scored a goal last season. Walker will center the Gophers top line most likely with Blake McLaughlin on one side and a potential roatating cast of forwards on the other side.
Blake McLaughlin—Junior—Grand Rapids, MN
McLaughlin has been one of the more prominent Gopher forwards the last two seasons. He has spend most of the time as Sammy Walker’s wingman and it has been a mutually successful pairing. McLaughlin set career highs last season in points with 24, goals with 8 and assists with 16 playing in all 37 games for Minnesota. McLaughlin scored three game-winning-goals last season for Minnesota to tie for the team lead. His spot as a first line winger is very secure as he and Walker will look to lead this offense.
Sampo Ranta-Junior—Nantali, Finland
Ranta had a great sophomore season for the Gophers earing career highs in points with 20 and goals with 12—good enough for second on the team. He is a leading candidate to be the second wing on the Gophers #1 line with Walker and McLaughlin.
Nathan Burke-Junior- Scottsdale, Arizona
Burke is a player Minnesota will hope will bounce back from a bit of a snakebitten sophomore season. Despite playing in six more games last season his scoring dropped from 14 points his freshman season to just six a year ago. Burke dealt with a massive slump in the middle of last season but seemed to be coming on towards the end of the season, to which Minnesota fans hope they see that Burke back on the ice.
Ben Meyers—Sophomore—Delano, MN
Meyers has the most productive freshman season a year ago for Minnesota recording 26 points including ten goals. He was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team and was one of three finalists for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Meyers was named an assistant captain for this year’s squad. Meyers is Minnesota’s best face-off draw man winning the puck just over 52% of the time a season ago. He will center the Gophers #2 line most likely with Reedy and McManus and ensure that Minnesota has two top tier scoring lines in the Big Ten.
Jonny Sorenson—Sophomore—St. Louis Park, MN
Sorenson was a pleasant surprise as a freshman a season ago for Bob Motzko and the Gophers. In 35 games played he recorded 11 points including six goals—and the team thrived when he found the score sheet. Minnesota was 8-0-2 when he recorded a point and 5-0-1 when he tallied a goal. He spent a lot of his time bouncing between the third and fourth lines a year ago and probably will play a similar role this season.
Bryce Brodzinski-Sophomore-Blaine, MN
The last and final member of his family to play college hockey—two for the Gophers and two for St. Cloud State, Brodzinski came in with high expectations as a freshman. It took a little while for him to adapt to the college game but when he did figure things out he took off. Playing in all 37 games last year Bryce recorded 12 points including seven goals. Three of those goals came in the road series at Wisconsin helping the Gophers to a sweep of the Badgers. Brodzynski will most likely be slotted into a third line spot this season and will look to provide great scoring depth.
Jaxon Nelson—Sophomore—Magnolia, MN
Nelson entered his freshman year with the Gophers a long six years after committing to Minnesota back in 2014. He recorded six points in 33 games last season skating mostly on the fourth line. Nelson is a solid skater who is not afraid to put a body on someone—and that probably secures his spot on the Gophers checking line once again this season.
Jack Perbix—Sophomore—Elk River, MN
Perbix played the first 35 games of the year for the Gophers before missing the end of the season due to an injury. He recorded seven points on the season split between the third and fourth lines. He once again will be in that mix and rotation of about four lineup spots early in the season.
Noah Webster—Sophomore—Eagle River, WI
Webster will be looking to make his Gopher debut this season as he missed the entire 2019-20 season with an injury.
Mason Nevers-Freshman, Edina, MN
Mason Nevers is the lone freshman forward on this season’s roster. He joins the Gophers this season after playing a year in the USHL with Des Moines where he thrived scoring 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 47 games. Nevers is a Gopher legacy—his father Tom played a few games for the Gophers in hockey but made his name on the diamond leading the Gopher baseball team and ending up being selected in the first round of the 1990 MLB Draft. Nevers is another quick crafty scorer in the mold of a Sammy Walker type and joins the Edina to Minnesota pipeline. It will be interesting to see where he slots in on this Gopher team but he could be expected to play a third line type role similar to Bryce Brodzinksi did a season ago.