Gophers will finish season without Stoa on the ice

The junior will undergo season-ending surgery on a knee injured Saturday while playing Michigan.

by Brian Deutsch

Junior forward Ryan Stoa will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury in the Gophers 4-3 win over Michigan on Saturday night.

“I’m really disappointed for Ryan,” said coach Don Lucia. “He worked extremely hard this offseason and had really taken a step in his development.”

Stoa was predicted to be one of the team’s many offensive threats, teaming with top point-getters Jay Barriball and Kyle Okposo on Minnesota’s first line.

After Stoa went down Saturday night, Lucia tested out several players at left wing on the top-line, including freshman Mike Hoeffel.

Presumably, Lucia will continue to search for a replacement for Stoa during practice this week in preparation for this weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association opening games.

Stoa was named as an assistant captain on this year’s squad, and he netted Minnesota’s first goal in the Gophers 4-3 comeback win over RPI last Friday.

Stoa also assisted on freshman forward Kyle Okposo’s game-winning goal with 1:11 left in regulation.

But the following night, Stoa went down in the first period with a knee injury that will require surgery, putting an end to the forward’s season.

“Obviously, it’s a huge loss for our team,” senior defenseman and team captain Derek Peltier said. “(Ryan) brings so many things to the team to help us win both on the ice and as a captain.”

Stoa returned to the Gophers’ roster this season after ranking seventh on the team with 12 goals and 12 assists last season.

In 87 career games with the Maroon and Gold, Stoa gained 51 total points (23 goals and 28 assists).

A graduate of Bloomington Kennedy High School, Stoa was selected in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft as the 34th pick by the Colorado Avalanche.

Lucia said in a statement released last night that he expects to have Stoa back in the roster for next season.

“We’re going to miss him as a leader and a person this upcoming season,” Lucia said. “I know Ryan will work extremely hard to get back on the ice and have a great year next season.”

Stoa’s parents could not be reached for comment and he also was unavailable.

Minnesota will return to action this weekend on the road against Colorado College in a two-game series.