Three Gophers freshmen drafted to NHL

(left to right) Jack Sadek, Brent Gates Jr. and Tom Novak pose in Mariucci Arena on Monday. The Minnesota Gophers trio was drafted into the NHL on Saturday with Sadek going to the Minnesota Wild, Gates to the Anaheim Ducks and Novak to the Nashville Predators.

Christopher Wakefield

(left to right) Jack Sadek, Brent Gates Jr. and Tom Novak pose in Mariucci Arena on Monday. The Minnesota Gophers trio was drafted into the NHL on Saturday with Sadek going to the Minnesota Wild, Gates to the Anaheim Ducks and Novak to the Nashville Predators.

Emily Polglaze

After a quiet first day of the 2015 National Hockey League Draft, three incoming Gophers freshman and another player committed to the program heard their names called on the draft’s second day.
 
Freshmen Brent Gates Jr., Tom Novak and Jack Sadek will join the eight NHL draft picks returning to the Gophers’ roster this fall, after being selected in the draft at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. Forward Ryan Zuhlsdorf, who is currently committed to the University of Minnesota but is not expected to join the roster this season, was also picked.
 
“It’s a great group of guys,” Sadek said. “I’m lucky to be drafted with them.”
 
The draft opened on Friday with the first round, but for the third consecutive year no Gophers players were taken within the first 30 picks. 
 
Instead, Gates was the first University player to go off the board, hearing his name called by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round with the 80th overall pick.
 
“There were a lot of emotions. I was excited and nervous and anxious,” said Gates. “And when I got picked, I’ve never really felt anything like it.” 
 
Gates, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., spent the past two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League. 
 
The forward tallied 27 points last season with the Gamblers in 33 games. 
 
Gates is only the second Gophers player to be drafted by the Ducks in program history, alongside current Minnesota Wild defenseman Jordan Leopold. 
 
“[The Ducks] play a style similar to mine,” said Gates. “So down the road, I definitely think I’ll fit in there.”
 
Despite the late start, it wasn’t long before another University player heard his named called.
 
Tom Novak was picked in the third round, five picks behind Gates at 85th overall by the Nashville Predators. 
 
Novak finished second in points last season for the Waterloo Black Hawks with 48 in 46 games played.
 
Novak was ranked 28th among North American skaters before the draft by NHL.com, but he said he wasn’t fazed by his late selection.
 
“Any time you slip a little bit it can be a disappointment,” said Novak. “But I think Nashville will be a good team for me, and I’m excited for it.”
 
Novak already has ties in Nashville with an old teammate, Jack Dougherty. 
 
The two played for St. Thomas Academy in high school, winning two class A state championships together in 2012 and 2013. Dougherty was selected by the Predators in the second round of last year’s draft.
 
Sadek waited until the draft’s final round to be selected, but he ended up being drafted close to home. The Minnesota Wild selected the defenseman with their last
pick of the draft in the seventh round, 204th overall.
 
“It’s awesome,” Sadek said. “To be drafted is sweet and then by the hometown team, that’s even better.”
 
Sadek helped lead the Lakeville North Panthers to an unblemished 31-0 record last season and a class AA Minnesota state championship. 
 
The Wild already has a large connection with the University, with five Gophers alumni currently listed on the team’s roster. Sadek is also the sixth Gophers player to be selected by the Wild.
 
“They’ve had some good runs the past few seasons,” Sadek said. “Hopefully, the team will still be going up and up, and we could win a Stanley Cup if I get there.”
 
Zuhlsdorf, an Edina native who announced his commitment to the University on April 29, 2014, was also chosen in the draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 5th round, 150th overall.
 
Though Gates, Novak and Sadek were excited after hearing their names, the three players heading to campus next season know they have to shift their focus to the
year to come.
 
“Everyone will want to win a championship” Novak said. “So that’ll be an end goal.”
Advertisement
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