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Focusing on prep playoffs, Benilde-St. Margaret's Brady Yakesh gets Gophers pick out of the way

The Minnesota Gophers added another puck-mover to their recent prospects list, when Benilde-St. Margaret's senior he will play for the U of M after a stint in junior hockey.

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In 25 regular season games for Benilde-St. Margaret's as a senior, defenseman Brady Yakesh (16) put up 10 goals and 30 assists for the Red Knights. He announced his commitment to play for the University of Minnesota via Twitter on Feb. 23, 2022.
Tom Morris / temophoto.com

ROCKFORD, Minn. — The section playoffs are a time of stress and excitement for any high school hockey player in Minnesota. With that in mind, Brady Yakesh wanted to get one of the biggest things weighing on his mind out of the way before his Benilde-St. Margaret’s team got into win-or-go-home territory.

So this week, roughly 28 hours before his Red Knights opened the section playoffs, Yakesh took to social media to make his college plans official and committed to the Minnesota Gophers, where he will play defense after a season or two of junior hockey.

Yakesh, who is 18 and listed at 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, had 10 goals and 30 assists in 25 regular season games for the Red Knights as a senior. He lives in Rockford, Minn., and plans to play junior hockey for the Chippewa Steel in the North American Hockey League once his high school season is done. Then he will play either for the Steel or with a United States Hockey League team next winter.

“I really want to focus on sections and be with my team as much as possible,” Yakesh said of the timing of his announcement. “So I wanted to get it out of the way. It was a pretty stressful situation that kind of came at me quick after winter break.”

Yakesh made visits to Air Force and to the U of M in recent weeks. He was impressed by both, and torn over which way to go. In picking Minnesota, Yakesh admitted that being closer to his four grandparents, who all live in Minnesota, so they can see him play in person more often was a major factor. The Red Knights are 20-5-0 heading into the Section 6AA playoffs.


“He’s been very quietly one of the best defensemen in the state, I believe,” Red Knights coach Ken Pauly said. “Pretty consistently, he’s been one of our best players every night in a pretty dang good season. He does an awful lot right, and I think a lot of people overlook him because he isn’t over 6 feet. An undersized defenseman can be an acquired taste for some coaches.”

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Benilde-St. Margaret's defenseman Brady Yakesh
Contributed / Benilde-St. Margaret's

During his visit to the U of M, Yakesh spoke with current Gophers defensemen Brock Faber and Jackson LaCombe, and admitted the success the Gophers coaches have had in the development of blueliners was a factor in his college choice.

“It’s incredible what they’ve done so far, and the recruiting class that’s going to come in when I get there,” Yakesh said. “I just know my game will elevate from working with the D corps there. I just want to keep getting better as I progress and get older.”

The Gophers have previous defensive commitments from Sam Rinzel (Chaska), Max Rud (St. Cloud), Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi), Nick Williams (Edina) and Luke Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie). Yakesh, who is the first BSM player committed to the U of M since Ryan Collins and Jack Glover played there a decade ago, said he plans to major in business.

The first-ever game played by Lindenwood on Saturday will mark 102 seasons of Minnesota Gophers hockey, and with a mostly unknown opponent coming to town, the home club will focus on itself and what it needs to improve with an October schedule that gets tougher quickly.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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