Before making his way to the World Juniors with Team USA, Blackhawks first-rounder Oliver Moore was finding his footing with the Minnesota Gophers. The local Minnesota product out of Mounds View had not only been a Gophers fan but also got Blackhawks fans excited to watch him begin his collegiate career and to follow his development closely.
Moore started off his collegiate career strong, then slowed down, which was to be expected when making the jump from prep hockey to the Big Ten. Getting off to a quick start, Moore tallied four assists in his first weekend with the team against St. Thomas.
Following that up by netting his first collegiate goal in a 4-0 win over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on October 20, Moore then proceeded to slow down a bit. Through his first 18 games with the Gophers, he totaled 12 points on two goals and 10 assists.
However, in the games leading up to Moore leaving campus to play with Team USA, he started to show consistency once again. Moore managed to pick up an assist in four out of his final five games before participating in World Juniors, which included getting an assist in three consecutive games against Michigan State and Penn State.
Perhaps that was a glimpse of the type of play Gophers and Blackhawks fans can expect from the first-round forward from then on because since Moore has come back from World Juniors, he has taken his play to another level.
It started with a three-point weekend against Robert Morris with a goal and two assists, then Moore followed that up with a four-point weekend against Ohio State on four assists.
During a huge road matchup against Michigan State, Moore proceeded to double his goal total on the year by scoring three goals and adding an assist as the Gophers split with the Spartans.
The weekend featured Moore's first multi-goal game with the Gophers and he was named the Big Ten Second Star of the Week. It was a weekly honor that he shared with fellow Hawks prospect Frank Nazar III out of Michigan.
This past weekend Moore continued to be a big bright spot for the Gophers. On Friday night against the Wisconsin Badgers, Moore scored a goal and an assist. By tallying another point, Moore registered at least one point in eight consecutive games, however, that streak came to an end on Saturday.
In 28 games this season, Moore currently has 27 points on 7 goals and 20 assists and is nearly averaging a point per game as a freshman. He ranks tied for second on the team in points and second in assists (trailing fellow Hawks prospect Sam Rinzel with 23 assists), and is sixth on the team in goals.
The Gophers have won seven of their last nine games, as they look to keep fighting in the Big Ten and aim to make a postseason run. Oliver Moore's recent play has been a huge part of their success.
The Blackhawks have been tough to watch this year, especially since Connor Bedard went down with an injury and other injuries piled up. However, Moore's play has been a big positive development and is something for fans to follow throughout the rest of the college hockey season.