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Gophers Hockey: Gabe Guertler leaves Minnesota for OHL's Soo Greyhounds

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Guertler forgoes his final three seasons of college eligibility after being concurrently released from Minnesota and signing with the Soo Greyhounds. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native finished a troubled freshman season with 5 points in 24 games.

Former Minnesota forward Gabe Guertler
Former Minnesota forward Gabe Guertler
Matt Christians

Following Kyle Rau making his declaration last week to come back to Minnesota for a senior season in Miami, the team's lone Floridian is taking his talents to the OHL.

Gabe Guertler is leaving the University of Minnesota after one season to join the Soo Greyhounds. The Gophers announced Thursday it has granted his release from the program. Concurrently, the Greyhounds announced Guertler's signing. The 19 year-old  forward gives up his final three seasons of college eligibility with the move.

"It is with great excitement that we announce today that Gabe Guertler has decided to join the Greyhounds. Adding a player of Gabe's caliber to our team at this stage is another very positive step in our evolution of our Program," stated Greyhounds GM Kyle Dubas in a team release Thursday.

Guertler, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had five points (2G-3A) in 24 games last season for Minnesota. Passed over twice in the NHL Draft due to his size, the speedy 5'9, 185 lbs forward spent much of the second half centering an all-freshman fourth line with Connor Reilly and Vinni Lettieri. The trio was counted on throughout the Gophers' run to the national championship game, where Minnesota lost 7-4 to Union, playing all four NCAA Tournament games together.

Off the ice, Guertler ran into trouble with an arrest for DWI last September.  He was suspended by the team for the first month of the season before making his collegiate debut November 8th against Notre Dame.

At the time, Gophers head coach Don Lucia noted that the team would continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate Gabe's status.

"I'm really excited to be a part of the Soo Program," said Guertler, who notched 31 goals for Fargo (USHL) prior to joining the Gophers. "I think it's a great opportunity for me to get better as a player.  The Soo is a great program and are a top-tier team in OHL.  I look forward to getting started."

Minnesota, meanwhile, has one less player with Guertler's release to battle for playing time on the fourth line. Six players spent much of 2013-14 battling for the three spots. All but Guertler return. His departure also opens a potential spot for either Jack Ramsey (Penticton - BCHL) or Tyler Sheehy (Waterloo - USHL) to come in a year earlier as the team's 15th forward alongside fellow freshmen (and pair of Swedes) Leon Bristedt and Robin Hoglund.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --