Men’s hockey | 05/12/2021 17:14:00 PM
MINNEAPOLIS – Former Gopher Hockey and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler will play in his 1,000th NHL regular season game on Sunday night as the Jets host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canada Life Center.
Wheeler will be the fifth Pride on Ice product to reach the NHL milestone – joining Phil Kessel (1,146 games), Neal Broten (1,099), Mike Ramsey (1,070) and Thomas Vanek (1,029). Kessel is the only other active Gopher to have played in 1,000 NHL games.
A native of Plymouth, Minn., Wheeler has 817 career NHL points third behind the Minnesota alumni behind Broten (923) and Kessel (917), while his 538 career assists are second behind Broten and his 279 career goals for fourth in program history.
A three-year letter winner with the Gophers (2006-08), Wheeler has 96 points (42 goals, 54 assists) in 127 career games. The forward helped Minnesota win back-to-back WCHA regular-season crowns in 2006 and 2007, while also scoring one of the biggest goals in program history to win the 2007 WCHA Final Five. Wheeler was an assistant captain in 2007-08 when he won all-conference honors as the team’s leading scorer.
Among his international experience, Wheeler represented the United States at the 2006 World Junior Championships and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Wheeler is one of 23 Gopher Hockey alumni to have played in the NHL this year, while the University of Minnesota runs all college hockey programs with 117 all-time NHL alumni.