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Gopher Hockey Notebook: Alternate Captains named, Isackson signs ATO

Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

Jake Bischoff, Hudson Fasching and Connor Reilly will be alternate captains for the University of Minnesota this season, the school announced Tuesday, the first day of the 2015-16 school year.

The three players join Justin Kloos, who was named captain in early August.

If there needs to be any reminder as to whose team this is now, all four serving as letter wearers this season are juniors (albeit Reilly only due to taking a redshirt year in 2012-13 after sustaining a knee injury). None have officially been in a leadership role before.

In a way it is out of necessity. The Gophers will be without six seniors that played key roles in the closing stretch, including two-time captain Kyle Rau. Three more players - Mike Reilly, Brady Skjei and Adam Wilcox - departed following their junior year, one which saw Minnesota win its fourth consecutive regular season title but lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bischoff, a 2012 7th round pick by the New York Islanders, is the only defenseman to wear a letter this season. The Grand Rapids, MN native enters his junior year as one of three upperclassmen on the blue line and looking for a new partner on the blue line. Bischoff, a two-way defenseman, spent most of the second half with Mike Reilly, finishing with 11 points (3G-8A) in 36 games.

Jake's father Grant played for Minnesota from 1988-1991. The junior will have some bragging rights on dad. Despite being one of the top-20 scorers in Gophers history, Grant never wore a letter.

Fasching has spent his first two seasons with the Gophers primarily with his 6'2", 215 lbs frame being a constant presence on the team's top line. The Burnsville, MN native is the team's third-leading returning scorer with 26 points (12G-14A) in 36 games. While the total was a drop compared to Fasching's freshman year, the 20 year-old ended the season strong. He scored 11 points (4G-7A) in his final 10 games.

Originally a 2013 4th round pick by the Los Angeles Kings, Fasching's NHL rights was traded to Buffalo in March 2014. He has twice represented the United States at the World Junior Championships.

Reilly, after beginning the year on the fourth line, ended it with his third major injury in as many years. His heavy shot was utilized well on the power play, where Connor scored 4 goals, and earned a top-six role. Reilly was leading the Gophers in goal scoring (11 in 24 games) when he went down with an injury at Wisconsin on January 31st. He later underwent surgery, missing the rest of the season as the Gophers came back to win both the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles.

A native of Chanhassen, MN, the 23 year-old Reilly, like his twin brother and teammate Ryan, went undrafted.

It's the second time in 4 seasons Minnesota will have three alternates. Nick Bjugstad, Seth Helgeson and Erik Haula (from November on) each wore A's behind Zach Budish in 2012-13.

Ben Marshall and Seth Ambroz served as alternate captains last season.

Other notes (or) what's happening with alums

-Graduated forward Christian Isackson has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets and will play for the team's prospect squad in the Traverse City tournament this week. Isackson, who had 7 points (3G-4A) in 39 games last season, was a 2010 7th round pick of the Buffalo Sabres. He didn't sign with the team before becoming a free agent on August 15th.

-Sam Warning will be one of the players Isackson goes against in Traverse City. The Chesterfield, MO native is a part of the Minnesota Wild's team along with former Gopher Mike Reilly. Warning had previously signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Hershey Bears (AHL), but attended the Wild's prospect development camp in July.

The speedy forward finished his four-year career with 97 points in 146 games.

-Other recent ex-Gophers to play in upcoming prospect tournaments include Skjei (New York Rangers), Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Kyle Rau (Florida). Obviously Minnesota's current players will be in school.

-Speaking of Rau, he was honored at TCF Bank Stadium during a stoppage in play Thursday night for being one of Minnesota's Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients this year.Rau (Eden Prairie, MN) graduated with a degree in marketing. In addition to being a part of four conference championship teams and , he was a three-time academic all-conference honoree and Senior CLASS Award finalist.

-Recently graduated defenseman Ben Marshall signed a contract with the Indy Fuel (ECHL). Marshall, a native of Mahtomedi, MN, was a 2010 7th round pick of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Fuel are affiliated with the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks.

-2013-14 captain Nate Condon signed with the ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators last week. He spent last season split between the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) and Sparta Sarpsborg in Norway.

-There are 32 days until Minnesota faces Vermont in the 2015 United States Hall of Fame Game at Mariucci Arena.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --