Speed demon inbound, as NTDP forward Oliver Moore picks Gophers
Minnesota Gophers fans have watched Sammy Walker use his speed to make plays on their huge home ice sheet for years. In Oliver Moore, they are getting another talented player for whom speed is the primary on-ice weapon.
PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Fans of the Minnesota Gophers men's hockey team have gotten used to seeing three-year captain Sammy Walker and his blazing speed making plays and scoring goals on 3M Arena at Mariucci’s Olympic-sized ice sheet.
By the time Walker has moved on to a likely career in pro hockey, there may be a new speed demon on the Gophers’ home rink to delight and entertain the fan base.
When you talk to people about Oliver Moore — a 17-year-old forward from Mounds View, Minn., who committed to the Gophers this week — the thing that is mentioned most often is his ability to traverse the ice rapidly.
“The speed is the No. 1 thing that stands out when you see him play,” said Dan Muse, Moore’s coach with USA Hockey’s National U17 team. “He’s really good on his edges and able to separate from opponents with the puck. He’s really hard to defend due to his speed and the skill that he has with it. He can do things at a really high rate with the puck.”
After averaging more than two points-per-game as a sophomore at Totino-Grace last winter, Moore has 14 goals and nine assists in 25 games with the U17s this season, and has been loaned to the U18 team for 10 games, posting two goals and five assists there.
“He’s earned the opportunity to play some additional games and he’s done a really good job when he’s been up with those guys,” said Muse, who raves about Moore’s ability to create plays even with the reduced time and space that comes with the step up from high school to juniors.
Born and bred to be a Gopher!!!— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) February 2, 2022
Congratulations Mooresy 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/uvWA7usADE
The son of an attorney and a retired librarian, Moore grew up watching the Gophers and going to games. But he looked further down the road when picking the U of M, saying he sees it as a place where he can get an education and build a family after hockey.
“And I feel that I can develop into a great hockey player there, so it’s just a win-win all around,” said Moore, who is a junior in high school and hopes to be on campus in the fall of 2023, after another season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich.
He admitted that coming back to Minnesota will be nice, as much as he is enjoying his time in Michigan.
“I’ve gotten used to it pretty quickly. I have a great billet family out here, so they’ve made the transition pretty easy,” he said. “My family and I miss each other a lot, but it’s been good. A lot of people are happy for me to be coming back home. That’s fun to see for sure.”
As for what he plans to do for the Gophers on the ice, it comes back to his wheels, where Moore has heard himself compared to Walker by more than one scout.
“As this year has gone along he’s really been used in all situations and he’s a guy that’s found a way to impact the game,” Muse said. “Offensively, defensively in the way he can strip pucks and in the way he can track back. Both sides of it he’s been really good.”
As for his future at the U of M, Muse for one can’t wait to see Moore skate with the puck and utilize the extra space that “Lake Mariucci” will offer.
“Him on a big sheet, that will be fun to watch,” Muse said.