Lofquist leaves Gophers, drops out of school

The departure leaves Minnesota with just six healthy defensemen.

Lofquist leaves Gophers, drops out of school

by Max Sanders

The Gophers menâÄôs hockey team knew theyâÄôd face a challenging start to the season, playing two of the nationâÄôs top teams in North Dakota and Denver right out of the gate. What they didnâÄôt expect were the injuries and issues off the ice that have suddenly left a deep Minnesota roster searching for answers. Sophomore Sam Lofquist met with head coach Don Lucia on Monday and told him he was leaving the team and dropping out of school. âÄúHe just came in and said he was quitting,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúI didnâÄôt ask him why. IâÄôm sure it had to do with wanting to play more.âÄù Loftquist was unable to be reached for comment. Lofquist had played in just three of MinnesotaâÄôs eight games thus far. The sophomore had missed games due to injury early in the season, but after playing this past Friday against Wisconsin, Lofquist was healthy but scratched for the Saturday game against the Badgers. Replacing Lofquist on Saturday was Brian Schack . The senior entered the year eighth on the depth chart for defensemen but will now be expected to be a regular contributor to the Gophers defensive unit. âÄúBrianâÄôs a great program guy, a great team guy; the guys love him,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúLike I told Brian, when we were an overtime away from the Frozen Four, he was a regular in our lineup his freshman year. He can do it, and heâÄôs going to get the opportunity to do it, so itâÄôs great for him.âÄù LofquistâÄôs departure leaves the Gophers with just six healthy defensemen, as freshman Nick Leddy is still weeks away from playing after breaking his jaw Oct. 30 against Alaska-Anchorage. Lucia is considering moving a forward back to the defensive line while Leddy recovers and said sophomore Nick Larson would be the most likely candidate to make the switch. âÄúNick LarsonâÄôs a guy that weâÄôve practiced back there a little bit this year,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúHeâÄôll practice a little bit more there right now.âÄù When Leddy returns, the Gophers will have seven defensemen for the remainder of the season; a number Lucia is comfortable with going forward. âÄúWe have the same guys available that played on Saturday; weâÄôll be fine with those guys, and weâÄôll get Nick back,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúActually, the last few years weâÄôve ended up with seven, and weâÄôve got to try to build up those numbers.âÄù While LofquistâÄôs departure caught the team by surprise, it wasnâÄôt the first time he discussed leaving the program. âÄúHe talked about quitting this summer. IâÄôm not sure if heâÄôs going to the [Ontario Hockey League ] or what heâÄôs doing,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWe wish him the best, and, like I said, weâÄôve got the guys that want to be here.âÄù Multiple sources report Lofquist is heading to play in the OHL. As for the Gophers, they will move on beginning this Saturday, when they host Bemidji State in a two-game series.