Leon Bristedt keeps Gophers golden, earns Player of the Week honors


The Minnesota Gophers are taking care of conference business again. They also appear ready to return to national prominence.

Led by ASN Player of the Week Leon Bristedt’s first career hat trick in Saturday’s 5-2 win at Mariucci Arena, the No. 4/5-ranked Gophers swept No. 9-10 Penn State in a key Big Ten battle.

The sweep has lifted Minnesota into the Pairwise No. 4 spot heading into this weekend’s series at No. 12/13 Ohio State. It keeps the Gophers tied with Wisconsin for the Big Ten lead.

Minnesota’ weekend sweep of a conference foe isn’t new news.

The Gophers (17-7-2 overall, 8-2-0 Big Ten) have won five straight conference titles — including all three Big Ten titles — and their past six games at home. Minnesota has also won 10 of its last 12 games and 13 of 16.

Players like Bristedt are the reason why.

The junior from Stockholm, Sweden notched his first career hat trick with a shorthander, power play and even-strength goal. In 26 games, Bristedt has 11 goals and 12 assists and is plus-23. He had 36 goals and 43 assists in his three season at Minnesota and six goals and eight assists in his last 14 games.

He and NHL players Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek as the only non-North Americans to letter at Minnesota for the Gophers’ hockey team.

Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu. Follow him on Twitter at @DakotaHi.

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