Potulny has chance to become second three-time captain

Brian Hall

Only once in the 79 years of Minnesota men’s hockey has there been a three-time captain. Allan Opsahl held the captaincy for three years between 1944-47.

That statistic may change, however, as sophomore Grant Potulny has been voted assistant captain for the upcoming season by his teammates. If Potulny stays at the University all four years, he has the opportunity to become the second.

“It’s an honor,” Potulny said. “It is nice to be noticed by the guys and know that they respect you and get along with you. Those are the guys you go to battle with every day.”

Potulny, who is from North Dakota, also had the distinction of being the first non-Minnesotan to play for the Gophers in 13 years.

A force near the crease, Potulny led the nation last year with 16 power play goals. He finished the season with 22 goals and 11 assists, including a pair of tallies in the NCAA tournament game against Maine.

Potulny played a key role in the Gophers lethal power play unit, a group which led the WCHA with 62 goals.

His solid numbers aside, Potulny endeared himself to teammates by doing the dirty work in front of the net and along the boards. Potulny’s blue collar playing style helped linemate Erik Westrum net a career-high 61 points last season.

“He is a grinder,” senior co-captain Jordan Leopold said. “He has to work hard for what he gets and the guys feed off of that.”

Potulny was never the most gifted player on the ice. But four seasons at Grand Forks Red River High School and two years with the Lincoln Stars (USHL) made Potulny a little older and a little wiser than his freshmen contemporaries.

“He’s just a sophomore but he has a lot of experience,” Leopold said. “He is aggressive, vocal and he loves to win. I think he was born to be a leader.”

Potulny joined Troy Riddle and Paul Martin on the WCHA all-rookie team last season, capping a tremendous first season.

In character, Potulny doesn’t let his accomplishments or his chance at sharing Opsahl’s piece of Gopher history affect him.

“I am not going to change the way I act or the way I deal with things,” Potulny said. “I don’t see any reason to change what I do or the way I act just because of a letter on my jersey.”

 

Brian Hall welcomes comments at [email protected]