Stoa, Bostrom and Flynn to lead Gophers

From left to right, head coach Don Lucia, junior captain Ryan Stoa, junior assistant captain Ryan Flynn and senior assistant captain Justin Bostrom field questions from the media Wednesday afternoon at Mariucci Arena.

Marija Majerle

From left to right, head coach Don Lucia, junior captain Ryan Stoa, junior assistant captain Ryan Flynn and senior assistant captain Justin Bostrom field questions from the media Wednesday afternoon at Mariucci Arena.

The Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team announced its team captains for the 2008-2009 season Wednesday afternoon at the teamâÄôs annual media day. Junior forward Ryan Stoa will wear the âÄòCâÄô for the Gophers after missing all but two games last season with a knee injury. âÄúMentally, right away, I was a little iffy as to whether or not it would hurt or not,âÄù Stoa said. âÄúThereâÄôs been no pain, IâÄôve been able to do all my running and working out. Overall, IâÄôm ready to go for sure.âÄù Stoa was granted a medical redshirt for last season meaning he still has two years of eligibility remaining. Senior forward Justin Bostrom and junior forward Ryan Flynn will serve as assistants for a program that features 12 new faces on the roster this season. âÄúBasically half our team is new this year, so itâÄôs going to take some time to develop the chemistry and figure out who should be playing with who,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúAt the same time, I think we have a great core of leadership.âÄù Jumping right in After this weekendâÄôs exhibition game against British Columbia the Gophers will jump right into Western Collegiate Hockey Association play with a home-and-home series with St. Cloud State followed by a series at Wisconsin. âÄúWhen youâÄôre going to go up to St. Cloud and then head to Madison in the first two weeks of the season, youâÄôre going to get into some very hostile environments,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúA positive is that [the freshmen] find out right away what the WCHA is all about.âÄù The 10th-year coach added that Minnesota needs a better start to the WCHA season than it had last year when the Gophers began conference play 0-4 . The rest of MinnesotaâÄôs schedule doesnâÄôt get much easier as 20 of MinnesotaâÄôs 34 games will be against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last season. New rules for season On Thursday, WCHA officials will hold a conference call to explain several new rules that will be enforced this season. According to Lucia, some of the new additions will be a switch to a two-referee system, more protection for the puck handler, and every face-off during power-plays will take place in the offensive zone. âÄúWeâÄôre trying to find things that will generate a little bit more offense,âÄù Lucia said, adding that offense in the WCHA has been down in recent years. Minnesota should benefit from the new power-play rule after converting just 25 power-play goals on 193 chances last season. âÄúNot really special,âÄù Lucia said. Kangas set in crease Sophomore goalie Alex Kangas is MinnesotaâÄôs go-to man in net to start the season, but heâÄôs not taking things easy because of his status. âÄúI worked out a lot more this summer and came in probably about 10 times in better shape than I did last year, which is a plus. IâÄôve been working on my game on the ice as well,âÄù Kangas said. âÄúThe freshmen goaltenders are good goaltenders as well, so itâÄôs not like IâÄôm coming in everyday thinking IâÄôve got it made.âÄù Kangas said the teamâÄôs two back-up net-minders, freshmen Kent Patterson and Jake Kremer are pushing him. âÄúTheyâÄôre both good goaltenders or they wouldnâÄôt be with this program,âÄù he said. Filling the roster At times last season, the Gophers could barely put together a full roster of lines due to injuries and the early departure of NHL-bound forward Kyle Okposo . That problem shouldnâÄôt occur this year, thanks to a full locker room of 27 hockey players. Minnesota lists 16 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies as of Wednesday meaning there will be even more competition for ice time especially at the forward position . âÄúThereâÄôs 12 spots and 16 forwards, so there are going to be four unhappy players every night,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWeâÄôve told our players itâÄôs not our job to play them; itâÄôs their job to impress us so they can get the opportunity to play.âÄù Hastings fitting in First-year Assistant Coach Mike Hastings is already making an impact on the Gophers after joining the team last summer. âÄúHe brings a lot of energy to the team, kind of like [former Minnesota assistant and current Colorado College assistant Mike Guentzel] did last year,âÄù Stoa said. âÄúItâÄôs good to have that chemistry amongst our coaches.âÄù Hastings joined the team after spending 14 seasons with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. His record of 529-210-56 is the best in USHL history . Shootout possibilities LuciaâÄôs position on adding the shootout to break tie games in college hockey is well known. Absolutely not. However, some of his offensive players didnâÄôt exactly share his school of thought Wednesday at media day. Both Stoa and Flynn said they would like to have the chance and responsibility to win a game for their team. Trying to stop that from happening was not something Kangas is very interested in. Like Lucia, Kangas, who saw plenty of shootout in two seasons in the USHL, is hesitant about going to shootouts but for a different reason. âÄúI donâÄôt know if itâÄôs the best way to solve the game especially a league game,âÄù Kangas said. âÄúPersonally, up until last year, I probably only won one shootout, so IâÄôm not the biggest fan.âÄù Lucia addresses student section debate This year the student sections at Mariucci Arena will be general admission instead of reserved seating meaning itâÄôs first come first serve for spots. Lucia said he hopes the policy change will bring more fans into the game early and gives the Gophers the advantage âÄúWhen we go into other venues, thatâÄôs the way it is. We historically have a pretty late arriving crowd,âÄù Lucia said, adding that he wasnâÄôt aware of any other program that used reserved seating.