Jake Bischoff is one of seven true freshmen on the Gophers men’s hockey team this year.
And while some of Bischoff’s classmates might have overshadowed the defenseman by making early scoring impacts in the first month of the season, Bischoff is subtly moving up in the ranks.
In six games this year, Bischoff has scored three goals and added an assist.
“He’s been quietly getting better each and every week,” head coach Don Lucia said.
Bischoff earned his first back-to-back start last weekend against Minnesota State-Mankato and scored the game-winning goal in the Gophers’ 3-0 win Saturday to complete the sweep.
Lucia said he has been switching between Bischoff and fellow freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski all season. Lucia said the coaching staff has been challenged all season with what combination of the seven defensemen on the roster can best play the power play, kill the penalty and keep improving in the season.
“Who do you take out?” Lucia said. “There are seven guys who deserve to play night after night, but they all can’t play.”
And while Bischoff knows players compete heavily for playing time, he said he’s ready to earn a role on the team in any way he can.
“I’m pretty good at not getting discouraged,” Bischoff said. “I’m just sort of happy-go-lucky and go-with-the-flow.”
Bischoff’s easy demeanor has helped him be flexible on the ice when transitioning from offense to defense.
“When I was growing up, I was sort of the offensive defenseman,” he said, “but when I went to the USHL last year, I just sort of turned into a strictly … defensive [player].”
Now with the Gophers, it seems Bischoff is morphing back into more of an offensive guy on the blue line.
“It’s sort of been weird … scoring goals at this level,” Bischoff said, “but I just try to jump up into the play if I see an opening.”
Gophers junior forward Sam Warning has assisted on two of Bischoff’s three goals and said a good offense always starts with a good defense.
“It’s actually pretty fun — all of his goals come from the blue paint,” Warning said. “That’s kind of unlikely for a defenseman, but he’s getting the job done.”
While Bischoff’s first season is off to a solid start, he said he realizes he hasn’t solidified his spot on the team just yet.
“I’ve just got to keep on working, keep battling, keep doing what I can,” he said. “And just try to help the team out however I can … wherever that may be.”