Jr. | F | North Oaks, Minn.
Key Statistics: Hoeffel played in 35 of Minnesota’s 37 games as a second-year player, missing a pair while he was with Team USA at the World Junior Championships. He led the Golden Gophers in power play goals with six and was a member of the WCHA’s All-Academic team.
What He Does: After a season with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan, Hoeffel made a nice impact upon returning to his home state. He saw action in all 45 of his team’s games as a rookie and was a member of the WCHA Final Five all-tournament team. Standing 6-foot-2 and playing at over 200 pounds, Hoeffel possesses a deadly shot if he chooses to release the puck from beyond the circles, but coaches would prefer he take up valuable space in front of the opponents’ net and generally be a hard guy to play against. To that end, he’s added a dozen pounds of bulk and muscle over the summer.
The Bigger Picture: Hoeffel and many Minnesota fans agree: The last two seasons, in which his team is a collective six games over .500, have been sub-par by Gopher standards. That may explain why nearly every returning Gopher stayed near campus over the summer, going to school and meeting at 7:30 a.m. most days to work out together, “getting our chemistry and our attitudes right,” Hoeffel said. One of the bigger changes in Gopherland that Hoeffel anticipates as he works to grow into the power forward role is the addition of Grant Potulny to the Minnesota coaching staff. Potulny crashed the net in overtime of the 2002 NCAA title game and was rewarded with the national championship game-winner. That’s a lesson Hoeffel and many Gophers are eager to learn from their new coach.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia on Hoeffel: “He’s made a jump in both of his first two years and has an opportunity to play an increased role for us offensively. He needs to continue to learn to be a power forward, which means being strong on the puck, going hard to the net, and getting more of those dirty goals around the blue paint.”