Gopher hockey’s Matthew Knies returning for sophomore season

Matthew Knies will be back with Gopher Hockey for a second season, according to an announcement on the program’s Twitter feed Thursday.

Knies scored 15 goals and 18 assists as a freshman this past season. He also was one of three Gophers to play for the United States in the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Knies could have signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who drafted him in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas was quoted by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun saying, “Minnesota and coach Motzko have a great program so we know he will continue to develop as he has.”

He added Dubas saying Toronto’s pitch to Knies wasn’t aggressive because the option to return “was a great one.”

Knies’ return, along with the arrival of incoming freshman and likely top-five NHL Draft pick Logan Cooley, should give the Gophers plenty of firepower to contend in the Big Ten next season.

Earlier in the week, fellow Olympian and Gopher defenseman Brock Faber announced he’s also staying in school. Faber was the Big Ten Defenseman of the Year.

Ben Meyers, team captain and the third Olympian, is forgoing his senior season and signed with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Gophers just played in the NCAA Frozen Four in Boston, where their season ended in the National Semifinals with a loss to Minnesota State-Mankato.