Minnesota adds USHL defenseman Phillips, Knoepke leaves for USHL, Notermann cleared

Minnesota has added defenseman Clayton Phillips to the 2017-18 roster, while freshman defenseman Nate Knoepke has decided to return to the USHL for the second semester.

“Adding Clayton to our roster bolsters our depth on the blue line. He’s a dynamic player, and we are excited to welcome him to the Gopher hockey program,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said in a statement. “At the same time, Nate expressed a desire for more playing time, which we certainly understand. He’ll have that opportunity with Sioux City, and the plan for him is to return to our program in the future.”

A native of Edina, Minn., Phillips joins the Gophers after spending parts of the last three seasons in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the Fargo Force. The defenseman was named to the 2017 USHL All-Rookie Team with Fargo last year before being traded to Muskegon earlier this season.

Phillips also spent two seasons at Edina High School and most recently helped the U.S. Junior Select Team to a silver medal at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge. He previously earned gold medals at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge and the 2015 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament as well as a silver medal at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

A third-round pick (93rd overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 NHL Draft, Phillips will wear No. 6 for Minnesota.

A native of Farmington, Minn., Knoepke skated in two games for the Gophers this season.

Additionally, sophomore forward Luke Notermann has been cleared to return for the second half of the season.

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