Patience pays off as Sam Rinzel continues Chaska pipeline to Gophers hockey

There is a bit of irony in the fact that the first entry the Minnesota Gophers got from a rising junior – defenseman Sam Rinzel – came from a player whose development was the result of his patience and his skill. willingness to work and develop its Game.

Rinzel, who turned 17 in June, announced his commitment to the Gophers after catching the attention of their coaches not only at Chaska High School, but also skating for Team USA at a camp in New York and at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in the Czech Republic earlier this month. Blessed with physical tools, at 6-foot-4 and officially 181 pounds, Rinzel’s success on ice has come from his willingness to work and improve, his coaches say.

“He took time during school days. He listened and he was patient, ”said former Chaska coach Dave Snuggerud, himself a former Gopher. “He didn’t care when he would be contacted, he just had the right way of thinking, knowing that if he improved in his position, with the skating and skills, it would come. He has a good attitude and Bob (Motzko) noticed this when Sam had a good (USA Hockey) camp in New York.

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Rinzel will be the fourth and last child in his family to participate in varsity sports at a high level. His older brother was a lacrosse player at Stevenson and is now a track coach. His sister is a Union goalie. His other brother is a catcher in Missouri. And now Sam will be a Gopher, in part thanks to a lot of hard work with a former Fighting Hawk. Nick Mattson, another Chaska defender, played in two Frozen Fours for North Dakota and was one of Rinzel’s most influential coaches.

“His skating is very, very good and he’s just getting better and better, so I think the sky is the limit for him,” said Mattson, who worked with Rinzel at Breakaway Academy, before junior school. groups. “He’s really good at taking time and space from forwards and having very tight gaps, so he’s going to be really effective defensively.”

For Rinzel, the opportunity to play for a team he has watched since childhood, close to home, and to be the last part of what is emerging as a Chaska pipeline to the U of M was a opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Snuggerud’s son Jimmy is also committed to the Gophers, and former Chaska defenseman Mike Koster was a freshman on the Gophers blue line last season.

“I loved the way they run the program, the facilities, the element of the coaching staff, and since I was little it was a dream of mine to be a Gopher,” said Rinzel. He hopes to start college immediately after his final year of high school, but has said the schedule is something he will worry about later, only focusing on his junior season with Chaska currently.

Mattson joked that the only downside to seeing Rinzel enroll in college is that he chose one of North Dakota’s great historic rivals.

“It stings a bit,” said Mattson, laughing. “My years of brainwashing clearly didn’t work. I know it was a dream of his to play in Minnesota, so I’m obviously thrilled for him. But he would have been beautiful in green.

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