Mar 21, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; A general view of hockey pucks before the game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Leafs 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Four Gophers survive USA Hockey Camp cuts

A total of 13 players were sent home Tuesday at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp. University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia is acting in the same role at this camp and for Team USA in December for the World Junior Championships.

Team USA officials and Lucia selected five Gophers to bring with them for the camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. and after the first three days of practices and games, just four Golden Gophers remain.

Incoming freshman defender Tommy Vannelli (Minnetonka) was one of 13 players sent home out of the 44 original players selected for the week-long camp. Vannelli was the top pick of the St. Louis Blues in this summer’s NHL Draft.

The remaining players representing the Maroon and Gold are Michael Brodzinski (Blaine), Taylor Cammarata (Plymouth), Hudson Fasching (Burnsville), and Brady Skjei (Lakeville). Skjei is the only member of the five that skated for Lucia last season at Minnesota. The rest are all incoming freshmen that are expected to contribute immediately for the Gophers.

Adam Kimelman of NHL.com stated that, “it’s obvious the U.S. wants to be a big, nasty team that will be hard to play against, especially on the forecheck.” He was referring to the remaining players at the camp like Fasching, who is one of the Top 5 biggest forwards still in N.Y.

Skjei also fits that mold on the defensive side and Brodzinski and Cammarata bring a smaller puck carrying element to the team. Vannelli is kind of a hybrid defensmen in the sense that he can score the puck and has plenty of size to stand out on the blue line at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. Not everyone will make the team and Lucia may have just requested that Vannelli stay at home to help Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic that same week.

In Other News…

  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune jumped in on the linebacker debate with the Gophers football team. He wrote on how JUCO transfer Damien Wilson is seeking to fill the whole at middle linebacker for Minnesota. With the front-four on the defensive line pretty much figured out and some depth in place at the defensive back position, linebackers will continue to be a point of contention throughout camp.
  • HBO’s series Hard Knocks debuted on Tues. and former Gophers defensive back and kick returner Troy Stoudermire is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals team that is being chronicled throughout training camp. Look for it on Tues. nights at 9:00 p.m. CT time.
  • Ra’Shede Hageman was ranked No. 15 overall in Top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 season by ESPN. Brian Bennett who wrote the evaluation, commented on how “by all accounts, Hageman had a huge offseason, and he looks to be tapping into his full potential.”

Tweet of the Day

If he doesn’t kick for Minnesota this fall, Santoso could certainly help the offensive line at 6-foot-5, 260 lbs. I have a feeling that he could be even more lovable than Rhys Lloyd and that awesome English accent he used to help pin returners deep in the pits of the Metrodome.

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Tags: Hockey Minnesota Golden Gophers