Brodzinski steps up, fills role on blue line

Michael Brodzinski has four goals in just eight games as a true freshman.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers men’s hockey team is only 9-for-59 on power-play attempts so far this season — converting at slightly more than a 15 percent clip.

But freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski helped his team bring that percentage up with two power-play goals last weekend against Minnesota-Duluth. For his efforts against UMD, he earned the Big Ten Conference’s Third Star of the Week honor.

Brodzinski’s personal power-play conversion rate sits at 25 percent, and he ranks second among Big Ten defensemen in goals scored.

The freshman has had limited time to rack up goals — he’s played in only eight of the Gophers’ 12 games this season. Brodzinski has competed with the six other defensemen for playing time, but he said it’s made him a better player.

“It’s like a little boost in practice,” Brodzinski said. “And I think that’s elevated my game a lot.”

Brodzinski often switches off with fellow freshman defenseman Jake Bischoff for ice time, but he said the two could potentially work well together.

“I think it would be a great opportunity to get to play with him a lot, too, because he’s more of a defensive defenseman and I’m more of an offensive defenseman,” Brodzinski said. “He can sort of cover for me if I take any chances.”

Bischoff agreed it would be fun to play together.

“I definitely love playing with him just because … he’s good,” Bischoff said. “And [he] can make plays, move the puck, and he talks out there.”

Sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly, who leads all Big Ten defensemen in goals and points, said Brodzinski’s outgoing personality helps his performance on the ice.

“He’s confident in his [ability] to shoot the puck and make plays,” Reilly said. “It’s been working well for him.”

While goals may be a selling point for Brodzinski early this season, he said he hasn’t forgotten his main responsibility on the ice.

“If I can jump in the play at any time … then I would love to do that and get some points here and there,” he said. “But I know I still have to play defense.”