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Looking for defensive depth, Gophers welcome Sam Rossini back to campus

Knowing that they will lose a defenseman to the Olympics soon, the Minnesota Gophers welcomed a familiar face back to their locker room this week. Sam Rossini, who had played 49 games over the previous four years, re-joined the team as a graduate student.

Mens Hockey Media Day
Defenseman Sam Rossini, originally recruited by Don Lucia, re-joined the Minnesota Gophers in January 2022 as a graduate student. He played in 49 games during his first four years of college hockey. <br/>
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS – Knowing that they will lose defenseman Brock Faber to the Olympics for three series in February, and they are always one errant puck away from an injury, the Minnesota Gophers added some blue line depth via a familiar face at the start of the school’s spring semester.

Graduate student Sam Rossini has re-joined the team for the remainder of the 2021-22 season and began practicing with the team this week.

“We just added a world-class kid back into our locker room. He’s got the ability to do it, and with COVID and with what we just went through, losing defensemen to World Juniors, he knows his role,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko. “He’s here to help, which will be great.”

Rossini, 23, played five games for the Gophers last season, filling in when three defensemen were away at World Juniors. He entered the transfer portal at the end of his senior season, but did not find another college offer to his liking. The Inver Grove Heights, Minn., native graduated from the Carlson School of Management with a degree in finance in the spring of 2021. He had begun work as an investment analyst for a wealth management firm in August, and is taking a partial leave of absence there to finish the season with the Gophers, while taking two graduate classes toward a master’s degree.

“I was working a desk job last week, and now I’m practicing, so it’s been kind of a whirlwind,” said Rossini. “But I love it and I’m happy to be here.”


Originally recruited by Don Lucia’s staff, Rossini skated in 49 career games with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists). In a bit of fun trivia, he is the only Gopher who scored a goal against Jack LaFontaine while the goalie played at Michigan, then skated with LaFontaine after his transfer to Minnesota. He admitted getting back on the ice this week was a step up from his recent physical activity.

“I skated a few times in the fall in a couple of men’s leagues, and I’ve been outdoor skating with ex-Gophers Jack Sadek, Eric Schierhorn and Steve Johnson. They’ve been keeping me in check,” Rossini said. “When you go from working 9 to 5 at a desk to practicing at a Division I level it’s no joke. My body’s been a little sore, but it’s great to get back into it and it’s great to be back with the guys.”

More known for his work in the classroom, Rossini was recognized with last year’s John Mayasich Outstanding Student-Athlete Award and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, earning the honor every year he was eligible. He will again wear jersey number 28 with the team.

Arizona State vs Minnesota
Defenseman Sam Rossini graduated from the University of Minnesota with a finance degree and began work for a wealth management firm in the Twin Cities in August 2021 before taking a leave of adsence to re-join the Minnesota Gophers in January 2022.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

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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