Stoa shines for UM
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Don Lucia looked over Minnesota's 2009 recruiting class and singled out one guy as the best in the group. It wasn't one of the highly lauded freshmen, though. Lucia considered junior forward Ryan Stoa his best recruit. After m...
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Don Lucia looked over Minnesota's 2009 recruiting class and singled out one guy as the best in the group.
It wasn't one of the highly lauded freshmen, though.
Lucia considered junior forward Ryan Stoa his best recruit.
After missing an entire season because of a knee injury, Stoa returned this fall like another talented, new player on Minnesota's roster. The difference was that Stoa was proven at the college level.
He tallied 25 points as a freshman and 24 points as a sophomore before blowing out his knee during opening weekend last season.
The Colorado Avalanche draft pick hasn't showed any ill effects from the injury this season. He's the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's scoring leader with 18 points in 12 league games. He also leads the league with nine WCHA goals.
This type of production came as no surprise to the Minnesota coaching staff, which awarded Stoa the captain's "C" in the offseason.
"If you watched Ryan do his rehab," assistant coach John Hill said, "and you saw the way he attacked it and saw how much he missed the game, you knew he was going to be ready to go. There's no surprise with his season."
Stoa's line has been one of the best in the league, too.
It's centered by Jordan Schroeder, arguably the top freshman in the country.
Schroeder burst onto the scene as an eighth-grader at the Minnesota state boys hockey tournament. He dazzled a Virginia team that had a first-round NHL pick (Matt Niskanen) on defense with a four-point game, and he's been pegged for stardom since.
The right wing on the top line is Jay Barriball, who has enjoyed a resurgence playing with a pair of top-end players. Barriball led the Gophers in scoring as a rookie with 20 goals, 23 assists and 43 points before slumping to a six-goal, 21-point sophomore season.
"Scoring was an issue for our team last year," Hill said. "This year, we have a true No. 1 line with Jordan, Ryan and Jay. Also, those guys are doing a very good job on the power play."
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