MINNEAPOLIS – Fans of the Delano boys hockey team will certainly remember watching Ben Meyers. The former star for the Tigers, now with the Minnesota Gophers, has taken another huge step forward in his game this season for the maroon and gold, helping lead the Gophers to an 8-0 start and the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
“The last month or so has been awesome,” Meyers said. “At the start of the year, we were just practicing and wasn’t sure when we were going to play. That was kind of frustrating. Once our games got scheduled and we started playing, it’s been amazing. It just feels great to be back.”
Meyers and the Gophers closed out the first part of their season with a perfect 8-0 record. That helped them become the No. 1 ranked team in the latest polls. While the No. 1 ranking is nice, Meyers and his teammates have their sights set on the future.
“I was never big on the midseason rankings,” Meyers said. “I’ve never really been into it. I just want to win our regular-season title, the playoff championship, and then go into the National Tournament. That’s more of my focus for this team personally.”
The Gophers as a whole have taken the season by storm this year. After finishing last season with a 16-14-7 record, Minnesota has come together at the right time with a strong core to build around with another year of experience under their belt.
“We knew we had a lot of good players coming back,” Meyers said. “I think we knew that all summer. That’s kind of why we wanted to play so bad this season. It’s just a great group of guys. We have a lot of team guys that happen to have a lot of skill on the ice, as well. That makes for a good team. We return a lot of experience. We’re just older. We lost just three seniors. Whenever you can return a lot of guys that have played big roles last year, they’re going to do a lot better the next year.”
Meyers is just one player who’s opened this season in impressive fashion for the Gophers. After finishing with 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in his freshman season, Meyers has already racked up nine points (four goals, five assists) for the Gophers in just eight games.
“I’m just trying to play a complete game,” Meyers said. “I just want to take care of the defensive zone first and then make sure we get pucks out and protect our goalie. After that, once we get in the offensive zone, it’s just trying to make plays and try to score.”
The 2020 season has been a unique one for Meyers and the Gophers. From not knowing when they will start to often playing in front of no fans, it’s been a season to remember for sure. Despite the unique season, Meyers feels right at home whenever he takes the ice with his team.
“I’ve always felt hockey is one of those things for me that once you step on the ice it feels like for an hour or two that nothing else is really going on in your life,” he said. “I think it does feel normal. The games are a little different with no fans, and it would be more exciting to have fans, but we’re just really happy that we get to play.”
As the Gophers finished off the first half of the season with a 4-0 win over Michigan Dec. 9, Meyers and the Gophers are eager to get back on the ice. Minnesota is set to return to play Sunday, Jan. 3 when they host Arizona State. It will be the first game for the Gophers in more than a month, and Meyers and his teammates will be treating it like the beginning of the season as they look to keep their momentum rolling.
“Our experience will be huge for that,” Meyer said. “We’re just making sure we are competing in practice. We’ll have a couple of weeks to ramp back up before our next game. We’ll kind of just treat it like we did at the start of the season. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re up for it.