Tyler Sheehy and Gophers’ top line thrive together

Sophomore Tyler Sheehy leads both Minnesota and the Big Ten in points.

Tyler Sheehy, left, and Rem Pitlick, right, watch a play unfold at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 4.

Ellen Schmidt, Daily File Photo

Tyler Sheehy, left, and Rem Pitlick, right, watch a play unfold at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 4.

Drew Cove

There’s no better time for a team to have all its top scorers playing their best than just a few weeks before the playoffs.

The Gophers are that team, and goal scoring is their strength.

“Our mindset is incredible,” said forward Tyler Sheehy. “With our will to win, we’re obviously not satisfied either, so every game we want to get better and better.”

Sheehy has been No. 4 Minnesota’s (20-8-2, 11-3-0 Big Ten) crown jewel in offense so far this season with an impressive 46 points in just 30 games played.

The sophomore forward also had an impressive freshman year, scoring 30 points in 37 games.

Although his scoring prowess is what he is known for, he is quietly improving his defensive skills as well.

“[I’ve been] making myself responsible on [the defensive end],” Sheehy said. “In video, [I’m] really keying into how I’m doing defensively whether it be positioning or my stick position, little things like that.”

Late in the last regular season game against Ohio State, Sheehy made a big shot block that preserved the lead for Minnesota and eventually the victory.

The top line that includes Sheehy, forward Rem Pitlick and captain Justin Kloos is the Gophers’ most lethal weapon this season on the offensive side of the ice.

While Sheehy maintains his scoring lead in the Big Ten and for Minnesota, his linemates are producing offense of their own and wins for the Gophers.

“Your top-end guys, your best players have to produce in big moments,” said head coach Don Lucia. “They’ve been able to do that … The way our team is set up right now, the goal scorers have to score.”

Minnesota’s comeback win Saturday featured two game-tying goals and an overtime game-winner — each came from a member of the top line.

Since the line was put together in late December, Sheehy has only had four games with no points and nine games with more than one point.

“ [Kloos and Pitlick are] really fast players,” Sheehy said. “They’re two guys that don’t necessarily like to put [the puck] deep every time. They like to make a play around the defenseman, and that’s great for my game.”

Sheehy and Kloos are numbers one and two, respectively, in team scoring, and the sophomore also leads the Big Ten in scoring by six points.

The Burnsville native also has a chance at a great accomplishment this season: He was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, an award for college hockey’s best player.

“It’s awesome,” Sheehy said. “It’s a great honor to even be nominated with Justin and Jake. Those guys are incredible players.”

Sheehy and his teammates Kloos and defenseman Jake Bischoff were all nominated for the 2017 award.

When asked who has the most accurate shot on the team, both Kloos and Pitlick included praise for Sheehy’s shot.

“Tyler Sheehy …” Pitlick said. “He has a great shot, and I’m jealous of it.”