The Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team will have a new look next season and the team has tabbed forwards Nate Condon and Kyle Rau to lead the change.
Coach Don Lucia announced Monday that Condon, a senior, and Rau, a junior, would be the team’s captains for the upcoming season. Last year’s captains, Zach Budish, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Seth Helgeson are all playing professionally now. Budish, Bjugstad, Haula and defenseman Nate Schmidt all left school early to pursue NHL careers.
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Condon and Rau will become the 157th and 158th players to be named captain in Gophers’ history.
“I’m excited for both Nate and Kyle to serve as captains this season,” Lucia said in a release. “They’re both deserving of this honor, and they are both the kind of player you want in this role. They’re good students, they’re hard workers on and off the ice, and they are great representatives of our hockey program and the University of Minnesota.”
Condon has scored 78 points in his three seasons with the Gophers and has played in 117 straight games heading into the 2013-14 season. A seventh-round NFL Draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche in 2008, the speedy Condon had 12 goals, 31 points and a plus-15 rating last season.
“Being named a captain at the University of Minnesota is a dream come true for me, and I’m very grateful to my teammates and the staff for this honor,” Condon said in the release. “It’s going to be kind of different year for us all with a lot of new players and a new conference, but we are getting excited for the season to start, and hopefully the fans are too.”
Rau, a third-round pick by the Florida Panthers in the 2011 NHL Draft, is the leading returning scorer for Minnesota. He had 15 goals and 40 points in 40 games last season.
“When you look back at the captains who have come through this program, there are so many great players and leaders, and to be included in that group means a lot to me,” Rau said in the release. “It’s exciting to say the least especially for a kid who grew up in Minnesota, and it’s a huge honor coming from our team and coaching staff.”
The Gophers open the regular season on Oct. 11-12 while hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena.