Gophers hockey announce new leadership for 2017-2018

Tyler Sheehy will serve as captain as a junior with three alternate captains.

Sophomore forward Tyler Sheehy skates down the ice at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 4, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt, Daily File Photo

Sophomore forward Tyler Sheehy skates down the ice at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 4, 2017.

Emily Polglaze

A brand-new leadership core began its run for Minnesota men’s hockey Monday.

The team announced its new team captain, junior Tyler Sheehy, and three alternate captains — Mike Szmatula, Leon Bristedt and Ryan Lindgren — for the 2017-2018 season.

“I think we have a good group,” head coach Don Lucia told Gopher Sports. “They’re good away from the rink, they’re extremely hard workers and obviously core players for our team moving forward that we’re going to count on on the ice.”

Tyler Sheehy will captain the team as a junior. It is the fifth consecutive season that the team is set to have a two-season captain, with Kyle Rau and Justin Kloos starting as juniors previously.

“It’s obviously a great honor to be a leader in this kind of organization, this kind of program,” Sheehy told gophersports.com Monday. “I got to grow up a little bit watching leaders in the past … being able to wear a ‘C’ after them is really special.”

The forward comes off a career season in which he was named a First Team All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year and Hobey Baker Top Ten finalist. He led the Gophers with 20 goals and 33 assists.

Mike Szmatula is the first-ever Michigan native to serve as an alternate captain at Minnesota. The incoming senior forward just finished his first year with the Gophers after transferring from Northeastern.

Szmatula was seventh in scoring on the team with 10 goals and 15 assists.

Leon Bristedt, a Stockholm, Sweden, native, is the second European-born player to wear an ‘A,’ with Erik Haula as the last in the 2012-2013 season. The forward was Minnesota’s fourth-best scorer this past season with 33 points.

Defenseman Ryan Lindgren will be the first sophomore to wear a letter since Jordan Schroeder served as an alternate captain in the 2009-2010 season.

Lindgren was injured late in his rookie season, but had seven points with one goal and six assists and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

The announcement comes early from the team, as the last announcement of new captains didn’t take place until September in the 2015-2016 season.

Lucia said the process hasn’t changed.

“We have individual meetings with our players returning … What are their thoughts of who they think the captains should be and why?” Lucia told Gopher Sports. “Obviously, the coaches have input on that as well, but it’s always nice to know that the players are thinking the exact same thing as the coaches.”