Hello Cannon readers. My name is Nathan Wells and I'm the assistant editor over at SBN Minnesota (along with many other things). One of the things I do is cover and writer about University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey and thought it would be great this year to try to give NHL fanbases updates on the many Gophers draftees. Sometimes box scores can be deceiving or do not tell the whole story so here is one person's first-hand account of Blue Jackets prospects Seth Ambroz and Jake Hansen.Minnesota opened the season against Sacred Heart this weekend, which for those who don't follow college hockey is the equivalent of a BCS football team opening the season against a FCS school or another team with a hyphen and/or directional location in their name. The Gophers won 9-0 Friday night and 6-0 Saturday with Ambroz scoring two 3rd period goals Friday night and Hansen getting six points (1 goal - 5 assists) throughout the weekend to lead both Minnesota and the nation in scoring.
Both Columbus prospects were playing right wing with Jake Hansen on the second line and Seth Ambroz on the third. Both played special teams this weekend with Hansen being on the first power play unit and Ambroz on the second unit power play. Neither unit played well this weekend as Minnesota went 3 for 11 with the man advantage; however Seth did score his second goal Friday on the power play and the first unit looked better Saturday night.
One thing which impressed me was Ambroz's ability to use his body and crash the net. Although he is 6'3", 210 lbs, many freshmen struggle to adjust with the physical play of college hockey yet both of his goals came from the top of the crease and traveled a combined ten feet. The first one was off of a Nate Schmidt rebound while the second one came from a loose puck. Aggression and using the body have been issues for the Gophers over the past couple season so it's great to see something like that from Ambroz.
The biggest surprise of course was Jake Hansen. Despite being the highest returning goal-scorer this season, it's been safe to say he has underachieved during his time at Minnesota. Gophers head coach Don Lucia mentioned after the game that "midway through last year, [Hansen] started to play at a different level, and he’s continued that," but it'd be hard to argue the senior has stepped up before this weekend.
However, this weekend Hansen ended up being the catalyst on a line with freshman Sam Warning and sophomore Erik Haula (MIN). While Hansen scored a goal Friday night on a beautiful slapshot from the top of the circle, his main strength was getting the most out of his linemates. Three of the four assists Saturday night were primary as he was able to set up the speedy Warning and opportunistic Haula time and time again. Hansen also played well in the defensive zone and a couple assists came from stealing the puck in the neutral zone.
All in all it was a good first weekend (or at least better than what I heard happened Saturday night to Columbus) for Seth Ambroz and Jake Hansen. If you have any questions I'll be sure to answer them either on here or on Twitter. Next weekend will give a better idea of where the two are, as the Gophers play the defending national champions Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, but for now there is plenty for Blue Jackets fans to be happy with.