Sr. | D | Faribault, Minn.
Key Statistics: While leading the Golden Gophers in penalties (31) and penalty minutes (70), Helgeson had his finest offensive season, setting career highs in goals (five), assists (nine) and points (14). His quintet of goals—including one against Boston University in the NCAA Tournament West Regional first round in St. Paul—tied him for the lead among Gophers defensemen. Of those 70 penalty minutes, 14 were recorded in one game, a Dec. 10 win over Michigan Tech.
What He Does: With Helgeson, it all starts with length. When you’re 6-foot-4 in bare feet, that means long legs, long arms, a long stick, and a long reach. “I try to be a steady, stay-at-home defenseman and I like to play physical,” Helgeson said. “Down low in our own end, it’s nice to be 6-4 with a long reach and I like to use that to my advantage.” In addition to lots of on-ice work in Minneapolis, Helgeson visited the New Jersey Devils’ prospect camp for the third straight summer and has his sights set on putting that length to work for a paycheck a year from now.
The Bigger Picture: For the second consecutive season, everybody is talking about Minnesota’s defense. But where it was supposed to be a youthful anchor 12 months ago, today the talk is that the veteran blueline crew at Mariucci Arena may be a key to Minnesota repeating as WCHA champs and returning to the Frozen Four. Helgeson was thrust into a leadership role on the Gopher blue line as early as his sophomore year and as the lone senior on a unit that returns six regulars and adds two of the top young d-men in the game, his leadership will be a key once again. Last season, all of the defensive questions were answered by a group that played within its capabilities and bought in to respective roles. The reward was a league title and a trip to the Frozen Four. But the season-ending 6-1 loss to Boston College in Tampa left a feeling of unfinished business. “We got a little taste of what it’s like to be at the Frozen Four, but we didn’t get all of it,” Helgeson said.
Gophers coach Don Lucia on Helgeson’s role leading the defense: “He has to be that defensive defenseman for us. He’ll get points, but his plus/minus is the more important stat for us. Seth is the guy we want on the ice in the last minute when we’re up by a goal.”