Gophers Drive for Six Ends in 7-4 Loss to Union
Minnesota national runner-up for seventh time

Philadelphia, Penn. – Minnesota is a program that goes into each season looking to raise banners. This year’s team was able to win the inaugural Big Ten regular season title, but came up short in the conference tourney and then again falling 7-4 to Union in the NCAA title game.

The Gopher coaching staff often preaches that their philosophy starts from defending their own goal and extends from there. Saturday night, the team was caught watching, waiting, wishing for their goalie to freeze the puck, but the Dutchmen kept getting sticks on rebounds and capitalizing.

It was an uncharacteristic game from their second team All-American goaltender Adam Wilcox to allow so many rebounds, but it was also an overall poor game defensively for Minnesota. The Gophers were outshot 49-40 on the night, the most shots allowed by Minnesota the entire season. The team also took eight minor penalties throughout the game, slowing the game’s flow and forcing them to kill off seven short-handed situations.

The loss was just the team’s seventh of the season, and was a letdown performance for a team that seemed so focused in their previous three tournament games. The run included easy wins over Robert Morris 7-3 and St. Cloud State 4-0, and then a spectacular finish via a literal last second goal by Justin Holl to defeat North Dakota 2-1.

Overall, this year’s team met or exceeded the expectations placed on them in October. The coaching staff had to replace the early departures by Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, and Nick Bjugstad. Those departures were felt most on special teams as the staff had to replace practically their entire power play, and it took a long time for the team’s power play to get going. It finally hit stride after the holiday break and was a strength in the loss to Union. The Gophers killed off seven short-handed situations and got a power-play goal in the third period in their fourth opportunity.

Yet the season seems like a missed opportunity to add a national title. They seemed to have a great path to the trophy and their freshman got better and better throughout the season. The Gophers got three goals from their freshman class against Union, as Hudson Fasching, Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata got in book. Sam Warning was the other Minnesota goal scorer, but it has been the freshman class who stepped right into major roles. The class scored 59 goals this season, over 40 percent of the team’s goal scoring.

The team will be forced to part ways with seniors Holl, Nate Condon, Jake Parenteau, Tom Serratore, and Michael Shibrowski, who did get to see the net for the 45 seconds against Union. The class has taken the program from the dark depths of near .500 seasons and losing to Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA playoffs to three consecutive regular season titles, three NCAA tournament berths, and two Frozen Fours.

Also, the team will surely be faced with the drama of early departures. Sophomore Wilcox could face pressure from Tampa Bay to sign, as they’ll risk him pursuing free agency if he plays out the 2014-15 season. Fellow sophomores Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei could be enticed by Columbus and the New York Rangers respectively to sign after two very solid seasons. Both players had impressive showings in the World Junior Championships and could be ready for the challenge of professional competition next season. Juniors Kyle Rau (FLA), Ben Marshall (DET), Travis Boyd (WSH), and Seth Ambroz (COL) also could receive attention from their NHL teams as it has been the norm for coveted NHL draft picks to get an enticement to sign after their junior season rather than risk them pursuing free agency after their senior season.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: It was the 12th national championship appearance for Minnesota, but ended as their seventh runner-up finish. That’s seventh is the most second place finishes in NCAA hockey. The program was tied with Boston College at six before the game, a truly Minnesotan record to hold… Minnesota is tied for fifth with five national titles, behind fourth ranked Wisconsin (6) and North Dakota (7), sorry for the reminder… The Gophers had three players named to the CCM/AHCA All-America team, M. Reilly first team and Wilcox, Rau to the second team. Reilly was the first to earn first team honors since Ryan Stoa in 2009, and the first only the third time Minnesota has had three All-Americans (Brian Bonin, Mike Crowley, Dan Trebil in 1996 and Ken Yackel Sr., Dick Dougherty, John Mayasich in 1954)… The seven goals allowed by the Gophers was the most allowed since they gave up six to Minnesota-Duluth on November 24, 2013 and the last time they allowed seven was January 27, 2007 to North Dakota.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, April 12th, 2014 4 comments! | Post your comment

Buzzer Beater!
Gophers’ Holl Scores with 0.6 Seconds Left to Propel Minnesota to National Championship Game

Philadelphia, PA – Just another classic moment in the Minnesota-North Dakota rivalry.

Whenever you say Minnesota-North Dakota, you know you're in for something special. These two teams have fought numerous battles over the years, with names like Broten and Wheeler etched in Gopher lore for the miracle-goals they’ve scored to beat North Dakota on a grand stage. Tonight, Minnesota fans will add Justin Holl’s name to that storied list, after his shorthanded goal with 0.6 seconds left in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and vaulted the Minnesota Gophers (28-6-6) over North Dakota and into the National Championship Game.

Outside of the rivalry, the game itself was an exciting one, with both teams trading conservative but relentless hockey for the better part of the first two periods. The goaltenders were the stars of the show, with Adam Wilcox stopping chance after chance from a fired up North Dakota squad, and UND’s Zane Gothberg making all the saves he needed to make to keep it knotted at 0-0.

The two teams exchanged chances throughout the first two periods, but neither Minnesota nor North Dakota could break the deadlock through the first fifty minutes. The game’s first goal was scored with only 9:09 remaining in the third period, as Sam Warning scored his 13th of the season from Kyle Rau to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead. Rau skated the puck around the net before trying to stuff a wrap-around attempt home. The puck slid off his stick, but Warning was right there to backhand it home.

Minnesota’s lead was short-lived, though, as North Dakota’s Connor Gaarder scored just 32 seconds later on his own rebound, knocked out of the air, off Wilcox’s side and into the net.

From that moment on, the game was an intense fight to the finish. North Dakota had the better of the play late in the third, and were rewarded with a late powerplay (their second of the game and only the third penalty called on either team throughout the contest) when Mike Reilly held a hard-charging Drake Caggiula up the right wing boards with 1:39 left to go in the third.

Minnesota was able to kill off the penalty until the 9 second mark, when there was a faceoff in their own zone. Kyle Rau, who had been stellar in the faceoff circle all game long, won a clutch defensive zone draw, and the rest is history:

Justin Holl, who had played an absolutely stellar game, found the puck and led the rush up the ice. Holl fed Rau, who fired it at the net with time winding down. The puck bounced off a UND defender and right to Holl, who deftly kicked it to his stick and threw a perfectly-placed shot at the net. The puck hit the inside of the far pipe before settling into the back of the net with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Gophers the 2-1 victory! The players rushed the ice and piled on Holl, who picked a perfect time to score his first goal of the season.

Minnesota will face a Union team that beat Boston College 5-4 this afternoon to punch their ticket to the title game. Union is an older team that can beat you with defense and stout goaltending or high-powered offense. The Dutchmen bring the #2 ranked offense into the national championship game, along with the #4 ranked defense. Minnesota, on the other hand, is #6 in total offense and #2 in total defense. The teams are similarly ranked on the powerplay and penalty kill, and both squads like to play a clean game – Minnesota was the fifth-least penalized team in the country this year, while Union was T-36th in the country in penalties per game. All in all it should be a great game between two of the country’s best teams from start to finish. The puck drops at 6:30 PM Central Time, and you can find the game on ESPN for TV and 1500ESPN Radio.


Final SOG: UND 37, MN 28

Kyle Rau assisted on both of the Gopher goals tonight. The Junior captain now has 25 assists on the year to go along with his 14 goals. Rau also tallied a team-high 5 shots on goal on the evening.

No official three stars were released, but I would select: 3) Kyle Rau, 2) Adam Wilcox, 1) Justin Holl

Minnesota advances to its first NCAA Title Game since 2003, and this is the first NCAA Title Game ever for Union.

The Gophers are 2-1-0 all-time against the Dutchmen. Their last meeting was on 12/31/2010, when Union beat Minnesota 3-2 in OT in the first game of the Mariucci Classic.

Minnesota will be skating for its sixth NCAA Title. The Gophers last appeared in the championship game in 2003, beating New Hampshire to claim the title.

by: Chris Eckes on Friday, April 11th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Gophers Beat Huskies 4-0 WHOOOOO
Minnesota Face North Dakota in Frozen Four

Saint Paul, Minn. – The Gophers hit a pothole last week in the Big Ten Tournament losing to Ohio State, but their ‘Fab Five’ seniors made sure they booked a spot in the Frozen Four with a 7-3 win over Robert Morris and a dominating 4-0 win over St. Cloud State in the West Regional.

“The focus this weekend was tremendous,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “On the bench, I don’t know if I’ve seen it this focused and communicated and dialed in as we were for the game tonight. Again, that is a credit to our captains and right on down. It was obvious that it was very, very important for us to play well this weekend.”

The Gophers came out with a purpose against the Huskies, working the puck deep into the offensive zone and winning the races to keep it there.

“We knew they played four periods last night, they went deep into overtime, so we knew they’d be tired,” said Travis Boyd. “We wanted to make sure we made their D go back and get pucks all night, try and wear them down. I think we did a really good job of that, and by the time the second and third period rolled around we were really taking it to their D.”

Minnesota executed one of their most perfect games of the season. The centers were sharp in the circle winning 67% of all face-offs, the team only took one penalty during the game, the team got on the board first, and their goalie, Adam Wilcox, earned his fourth shutout of the season making 24 saves. Wilcox was named to the all-regional team and played a better game Saturday than Friday after working on his rebound control.

“The way [Wilcox] looked—I’m no goalie expert—but sometimes they look locked and loaded,” said Lucia. “And that’s how he looked tonight. He looked right on and he was really sharp tonight.”

The team also showed off their balanced scoring. Minnesota has nine players with over 20 points this season, and they got points from nine different players during their win over St. Cloud State. Justin Kloos led the way scoring two goals and was named the regional’s most outstanding player.

Kloos first goal came as he gathered the puck on the right side of the crease, and whipped behind the net to the other side for a wrap-around attempt. Ryan Faragher pushed across, but wasn’t quick enough, and the puck deflected in the net off of his pads at 11:09. The goal was Kloos’ 14th of the season with assists to Nate Condon and Justin Holl.

While the Condon-Kloos-Taylor Cammarata line got the first goal, the Tom Serratore-Boyd-Seth Ambroz line was tasked with shutting down the Huskies’ duo of Jonny Brodzinski and Kalle Kossila. The Gopher third line did as much, holding them to just three shots, but they also got Minnesota their second goal early in the second.

Boyd started the play by maintaining possession of the puck in a battle along the left wing wall, and he worked the puck over to the Parenteau on the right point for a quick one-timer. Faragher made the initial save, but spilled the rebound to Ambroz who cleaned it up for his 14th goal of the season at 3:48.

“That was the best that line has played in a while,” said Lucia. “They had an important match-up with Kossila, Brodzinksi, and then they moved [Joey] Benik up there after the first period—so really three pretty good offensive players.”

The Gophers then scored the prettiest goal of the NCAA tournament at 9:53 of the second period, and seemed to put a damper on the Huskies’ spirit. Cammarata came down the right wing in transition and dished it to Nate Condon. As the entire Huskie defense turned to Condon, the senior gave it back to Cammarata, who then sent it back door to Kloos for his team leading 15th goal of the season, making it 3-0.

“They’re a high-powered team. They skate really well and made it difficult on our d-men all night. They got the puck deep and finished their checks and just kind of wore us down a little bit,” said St. Cloud St. captain Kevin Gravel. “They have skill where if they get a chance they can make a play and they did that a few times tonight.”

The Gophers capped off the scoring when one of their captain’s, Kyle Rau, found an empty spot to put back a rebound off a Mike Reilly power play point shot. It was Rau’s 14th goal of the season, and his seventh power play goal.

Minnesota advance to face North Dakota on April 10 in Philadelphia in one semi-final at 8:30 ET, while Boston College takes on Union in the other semi-final at 5 pm ET. The NCAA championship game is scheduled for 7:30 ET on April 12.

“It’s really rewarding especially for the juniors and seniors here,” said Boyd. “We went there two years ago, it definitely wasn’t what we wanted down there—getting kind of embarrassed against BC, so we’re definitely excited to get another shot.”

GOLDEN NUGGETS: @Cjzero has a great GIF of the second Kloos goal, one of the best I’ve seen this season… Faragher was pulled after playing nearly 35 minutes. The junior goalie was phenomenal against Notre Dame, but has been battling an illness this week. Charlie Lindgren came into the game, and gave up the goal to Rau in the third--must have felt like he was back in net for Lakeville against Eden Prairie… St. Cloud State Bob Motzko said it’s tough to brag after a game like Saturday’s, but he’s proud of the accomplishments of his program, with three consecutive regional finals and two conference titles. He is especially proud that guys like Gravel, and Nic Dowd passed up opportunities to play pro hockey and finished their eligibility with the Huskies. Dowd and Gravel will likely head to Manchester to play for the LA Kings AHL affiliate... Motzko was critical of the NCAA policy forcing the losing teams to face the press first just 10 minutes after their season ends. Motzko told Gravel and Dowd they didn’t have to face the media, but the players still came for questions.

by: Eric Vegoe on Monday, March 31st, 2014 5 comments! | Post your comment

Gophers Survive, Advance Versus Robert Morris
Condon's Two Goals Pace Gophers Over Colonials

Minneapolis – “This time of year, nobody’s going to give up.”

Kyle Rau’s words rung true tonight, as Minnesota had to fight hard to beat a pesky Robert Morris squad. Although Minnesota won 7-3, the game was much closer than the score indicated, with Robert Morris coming back from a 4-goal deficit in the second period to close within two and make the game very interesting into the third period.

Minnesota came out like a house of fire, registering a 5-1 shot advantage just 90 seconds into the game. However, a couple of early penalties would give Robert Morris a two-man advantage early in the first. The Gophers’ penalty kill stood strong, and they were able to kill off the man advantage.

The game settled in at 0-0 for much of the first, with the Gophers looking slow and generally not moving their feet. Nate Condon changed that with a dynamic end-to-end rush up the ice with just under four minutes to play in the opening frame. Condon beat a pair of RMU defenders before shooting the puck from the top of the left circle into the lower corner of the net, relieving the tension and giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead.

“I believe momentum is a big thing in hockey,” said Condon after the game, and it certainly was for the Gophers late in the first. Minnesota would add two more goals late in the first – goals from Brodzinski at the point and Kloos in front of the net – to go into the locker room up 3-0 after one.

Minnesota’s Rau would score in the second to give the Gophers a 4-0 lead, but Robert Morris never gave up. Goals by Cody Wydo and Zac Lynch before the end of the second drew the Colonials within two.

Much of the third period was played at that 4-2 score, and Robert Morris certainly had their chances to draw within one goal of the #1 overall seed, but Hudson Fasching scored at 14:22 of the 3rd to get the Gophers a three goal lead at 5-2. Still, though, Robert Morris wouldn’t fold, scoring their own goal just 25 seconds later to get back to two-down at 5-3.

Minnesota would add a shorthanded empty netter from Nate Condon and a seeing-eye goal from Mike Reilly as time expired to give the Gophers a 7-3 victory.

“We had the type of game we needed to have tonight,” said Gopher coach Don Lucia. “We were led by our captains; both Nate [Condon] and Kyle [Rau] had outstanding games tonight.”

The win means that Minnesota will play the winner of tonight’s contest between Notre Dame and St. Cloud State for the right to advance to the Frozen Four. That puck will drop at 6:30.

by: Chris Eckes on Saturday, March 29th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Buckeyes Beat Sloppy Gophers 3-1
Dzingel's 3rd Period Winner the Difference for Ohio State

St. Paul – One team had something to play for, the other didn’t.

That’s how much of tonight’s B1G Semifinal matchup felt between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota showed flashes of their typical game, but the Buckeyes prevailed to advance to the B1G Championship game thanks to a Ryan Dzingel 3rd period game winner.

The two teams played a fairly even first period, with the Gophers garnering the majority of the scoring chances. Sam Warning hit the post on a Gopher powerplay about halfway through the period, but it was Ohio State that would take the first lead of the game. Ohio State took advantage of their lone full powerplay in the opening frame, as Nick Schilkey found the back of the net on a backdoor play at 15:20. Although the Gophers led the shots 12-8 after the first, the Buckeyes led 1-0 on the scoreboard, and Minnesota was lucky it wasn’t 2-0, as the puck took a funny bounce off the endboards and caromed off of Wilcox’s arm and through his legs. The clock wound down just before Ohio State could coax the puck across the line.

The Gophers would tie the game early in the second period on a powerplay of their own. Kyle Rau tapped in a Taylor Cammarata pass into a wide-open net on the backdoor at 4:47 of the period to knot the game at 1-1. Travis Boyd earned the first assist on the Rau goal. Minnesota took a few more penalties in the middle of the period, but the penalty kill held firm, and the Gophers picked up the pace as the period wore on. Minnesota had a few quality chances in the tail end of the period, but the second would end at that same 1-1 score.

Minnesota and Ohio State played a tight third period; Ohio State with its season on the line, Minnesota wanting to tune up for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Ohio State’s desire trumped Minnesota’s will, with the Buckeyes’ Ryan Dzingel scoring the game winning goal at 9:08 of the third period. The Buckeyes would add an empty netter with less than a minute left to seal the win.

Ohio State advances to the B1G Championship Game tomorrow night against the Wisconsin Badgers, with both teams playing for something – the Buckeyes for a chance to extend their season and make the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers for a likely #1 seed in the NCAAs. The puck drops Saturday at 7:00.

The Gophers next game will be at the Xcel Energy Center next Saturday, as the Gophers will be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play as the #1 seed in the West Regional. They will have to wait until this Sunday's selection show to find out who they'll face off against.

Notes & Quotes:

Final Shots on Goal: 31-25 Minnesota

Specialty Teams: Minnesota 1 for 3, 3 shots total. Ohio State 1-5, 6 shots total.

Kyle Rau: “Ohio State outplayed us.”

Travis Boyd: “This is the last two years that we kind of laid an egg on a Friday. We had good chances to win the game in the third, but we need to play that way for all three periods.”

Don Lucia: “I told the guys in the locker room that this is our last chance at a learning experience.” On playoff hockey: “You have to deliver pucks to the net when you get opportunities. You don’t get a lot of opportunities this time of year. I thought there were a few times when some of our freshmen didn’t quite understand that, but we’ll go back and look at the video and have a good week of practice.”

Ohio State Coach Steve Rohlik, on winning three games in three nights: “I told my guys that it’s doable. I’ve seen it happen before [as UMD’s Assistant Coach when they won the Final Five in 2009].”

Ohio State forward Ryan Dzingel, on the NCAA Tournament: “It’s in the back of my mind obviously, but we’re trying to take it one game at a time and play our game.”

by: Chris Eckes on Friday, March 21st, 2014 4 comments! | Post your comment

Wolverines Win 6-2 for Weekend Split with Gophers
Michigan keeps NCAA hopes alive while Minnesota heads home to see their trophy

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Minnesota took care of business on Friday night sealing the Big Ten’s first regular season title. Saturday night, they stepped onto the ice with little to play for, and the Wolverines took advantage by scoring the first five goals en route to a 6-2 win.

Gopher coach Don Lucia chose to rest Adam Wilcox, who has played nearly 2000 minutes over 33 games, and Sam Warning, who has been nursing an upper-body injury, for Saturday’s game. Connor Reilly got a chance to play on the top line, Christian Isackson was inserted back in the line-up, Michael Brodzinksi rotated back in on defense and Michael Shibrowski got his third start of the season. While none of the moves by themselves were costly, the team’s lone bright spot was Brady Skjei scoring two goals.

The game didn’t start out awful as Minnesota (24-5-6, 14-3-3-0) pushed the pace throughout the first period outshooting the opponents 11-5, but a turnover at their own blue line led to an odd-man rush and an early deficit. JT Compher forced the turnover, the puck went off his shin pads, and an opportunistic Alex Guptill had all the time he needed to make the score 1-0 at 5:16.

The Wolverines got their second goal 22 seconds into the second period when Michael Downing’s shot went off the end-glass, and out front to Luke Moffatt who directed it into an empty net making it 2-0.

Michigan extended their lead to three while on the power play. Moffatt drifted into a soft area for a one-timer and JT Compher found him. Moffatt got his second of the night with a slap shot goal into the top corner at 4:50. The third Wolverine goal seemed to break the Gopher spirit and the game got away from them going forward.

Zach Hyman scored at 13:21 and Phil Di Giuseppe scored at 15:20 to put Michigan up by five. Skjei stepped right to the crease and converted a Seth Ambroz pass into his fifth goal of the season to finally get the Gophers on the board at 17:49 of the second.

The third period opened with Copp scoring a short handed goal just 30 seconds in, and then Skjei capped off the scoring at 2:48 with his third goal of the weekend and sixth goal of the year.

Top-seeded Minnesota enters the Big Ten tournament to face the winner of four-seed Ohio State and five-seed Michigan State on Friday at 7 PM at Xcel Energy Center. The inaugural Big Ten title game is set for Saturday at 7 PM. All tournament games will be covered by the Big Ten Network.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: Sam Warning was held out of the lineup Saturday to help rest his injury that held him out of the lineup against Ohio State, but could have played if needed. Connor Reilly filled in on the top line with Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching. Christian Isackson stepped into the lineup and was on a line with Gabe Guertler and Taylor Cammarata… Michael Brodzinksi was slotted back into the lineup for Jake Bischoff for the Gopher defense… Not sure why the league didn’t have it on hand at Yost Arena, but the trophy for the Big Ten Championship will be waiting for the team when they get back to Mariucci Arena.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, March 15th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment


Rau’s OT winner lifts Gophers to Conference Championship

It may have taken an extra game than they would have liked, but that was the way you clinch a championship – on the road against a rival and in overtime to boot. The Gophers clinched the first ever Big Ten conference title with a 3 – 2 win in overtime. It was their third win in three games against the Wolverines this season and even though they would have won the title outright because Michigan State knocked off Wisconsin, the Gophers grabbed it the right way instead of backing into it.

The game started a bit sluggish for both sides, possibly due to the slightly (for Eastern Time) early start. And it was the Wolverines who took the lead into intermission but the Gophers got the early lead after a Brady Skjei unassisted tally about halfway through the period, on a seeing-eye fluttering shot from the point.

Michigan tied it shortly after and took the lead just before intermission. First, forward Evan Allen put a pretty harmless shot on net from – basically – a spot even with the goal line (from the corner). But Adam Wilcox channeled his Jeff Frazee and the puck snuck between his leg pad and the goal post.

Just before intermission, Tyler Motte and Andrew Copp hooked up for a nice transition goal. Jake Bischoff got caught a bit at the Gopher blue line. Motte got in deep and had the puck in the corner – Copp came into the zone through the slot, and beat his back-checker Taylor Cammarata to tap in the puck over Adam Wilcox.

The second period was a bit of the same in terms of fits and starts but the Gophers found their stride as the period wore on, and were able to tie the game late. With just over two minute left in the frame, Justin Kloos got the puck in the slot – after a nice outlet pass from Mike Reilly - and whipped a snapper past Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort.

The third period was played pretty tight to the vest but each team had some chances on rushes. Both goalies played well down the stretch and this turned into a pretty good late season college hockey game. But as OT started it was the Gophers who were a bit stronger. Mike Reilly drew a penalty after being hooked on an all-alone close-in chance on a nice drive to the net. Shortly after on the power play, Hudson Fasching – who was really noticeable tonight – gathered the puck near Nagelvoort’s right and made a reverse power move and tried a quick stuff in. His stick was tied up at the last second by Michigan defender Mac Bennett and the puck flopped out into the top of the crease. Fortunately, Kyle Rau was there to pounce on the rebound, popping the water bottle for the title.

Nothing is easy come this time of year, especially on the road. And while this game didn’t mean much to Michigan in terms of Big Ten standings (they are locked into 3rd place), it means everything to them in terms of the NCAA tournament. This was one of the better wins of the season for this team - they were clearly hungry to get this done tonight and on their terms, which is about the most encouraging thing we could get out of this weekend. So the Gophers will head to the Big Ten tournament next weekend in St. Paul as the #1 overall seed, and will take on the winner of Michigan State and Ohio State next Friday at 7PM.

by: Jeff Oftos on Friday, March 14th, 2014 12 comments! | Post your comment

Gophers Lead Late, but Lose in Shootout in Columbus
Minnesota One Point Short of Share of B1G Title

Columbus – After holding a lead for all but 3 of the first 56 minutes, the Gophers all but had their hands around the first ever B1G regular season title.
A late Buckeye goal and another poor shootout performance later, Minnesota (24-4-6 Overall, 13-2-3-0 B1G) was a point short of clinching a share of the B1G title, and will need at least two points in Ann Arbor next weekend to guarantee themselves the B1G championship.

Saturday night’s game got off to another great start for the Gophers, as Minnesota got an early powerplay and capitalized, with Kyle Rau collecting a rebound on the short side and sliding it past OSU goalie Christian Frey. Mike Reilly and Travis Boyd assisted on the goal at 2:32. The Gophers thought they had doubled their lead in the first period when Tom Serratore dented the twine, but the goal was disallowed due to Gabe Guertler interfering with the goaltender.

The Gophers ended the first with a 1-0 lead, and after an uneventful second period the teams started the third at that same 1-0 score. Mike Reilly took an early penalty and the Buckeyes capitalized, as Ohio State’s leading scorer Ryan Dzingel scored his 18th of the year to knot the game at 1-1 just 2:31 into the third. Minnesota responded only 24 seconds later when Gabe Guertler deflected a Ben Marshall shot from the left point past OSU’s Frey to give the Gophers another lead.

The B1G title was in their grasp, but Ohio State had other ideas, scoring with 3:50 left in the third period to tie the game at 2-2. Minnesota could still clinch the title with an overtime win, but Ohio State had the better of the chances in the OT, and Adam Wilcox had to stop a Ryan Dzingel breakaway to guarantee Minnesota a point for surviving the five-minute overtime period. Ohio State scored on their first shootout shot and Rau, Cammarata and Guertler were stoned by Frey, and the Buckeyes skated away with the extra point for the shootout victory.

The shootout loss means that the Gophers are one point away from clinching a share of the B1G regular season title, and two away from clinching outright. The Gophers will need two points in Michigan next weekend (or a Wisconsin shootout loss, regulation loss, or two shootout wins next weekend at Michigan State) to secure the first ever B1G crown.

Minnesota faces off against the Michigan Wolverines Friday at 5:30 PM Central.

by: Chris Eckes on Saturday, March 8th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Gophers Beat Buckeyes, Inch Closer to Big Ten Title

Win clinches Top-2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament

The calendar has turned to March and the stretch run is here. Everything seems to get extra tough this time of year – no matter the opponent or where you are playing. As a young team, it’s certainly plausible that you could argue the last two regular season series would be extra tough for the Maroon & Gold. But the Gophers really stuck with it after a few rough patches in the first period and took care of business on Friday night against Ohio State with a 5 – 1 win.

Goldy got off to a great start as Justin Kloos popped home a rebound from Taylor Cammarata and it was 1 – 0 early. After Connor Reilly just missed a wide open chance in front which really would have put the Buckeyes on their heels early, OSU really turned the tables. They pinned the Gophers in their zone for a few long stretches but the Gophers battled out of it. They ended up with a late power play and increased the lead to 2 – 0 at intermission when Kyle Rau scooped in a rebound from his place to the right of the net.

Taylor Cammarata got the Gophers up 3 – 0 with a great one-time shot from the circle as the 2nd period got underway. It was the 2nd power play goal of the game for the Gophers and the game was teetering. Unfortunately, Tanner Fritz was able to knock in a rebound just seconds later after a fortunate bounce got the Buckeyes a short breakaway.

But, before OSU could gain any momentum, the Gophers put the game away with two quick goals. First, Connor Reilly atoned for his pipe shot in the first period by tipping home a Justin Holl blast from the point. Then, less than 30 seconds later, Vinny Lettieri continued the freshman onslaught by whipping a turnaround type shot just over the goal line after stealing the puck in the corner to the left of the OSU net, which finished the scoring.

So – where does this leave the Gophers in terms of Big Ten play? With just three games to play, they lead Wisconsin by seven points. So they just need to win one of their next three games to outright clinch the first Big Ten Hockey title in the modern era. The 4G/4A effort by the freshmen class also ensured that the Gophers would not finish lower than the #2 slot so they will get a bye in the first round of the tournament in two weeks.

Game two of the series will be Senior Night for the Buckeyes and possibly Championship clinching night for the Gophers, which starts at 5:30 and will be televised on ESPNNEWS.

by: Jeff Oftos on Friday, March 7th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Battle Hymn Plays as Gophers Sweep Nittany Lions
Serratore scores game-winner in 2-1 win on senior night

Minneapolis, Minn. – Don Lucia set the table for senior night by starting all five of his seniors and his senior class delivered. Michael Shibrowski made 26 saves and Tom Serratore got the game-winning goal as Minnesota defeated Penn State 2-1 in front of 10,045 at Mariucci Arena.

“It’s a pretty good moment. Last run here on the big pond, so I couldn’t ask for a better moment to end my career here on Mariucci,” said Serratore. “Our line was buzzing for the most part and we started to connect there. Our team had a rough second period, so we went back in the locker room after and talked about what we needed to do to get the job done. Fortunately our line stepped up and was able to put one away.”

The Gophers (23-4-5, 12-2-2 Big Ten) go into the final two weekends of conference play with a seven-point lead over Wisconsin. If the Gophers take care of business, it could cap a heck of a turnaround for a program that was swept by Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA playoffs four years ago. The class followed-up that early playoff exit with a back-to-back MacNaugton Cups, and have a potential inaugural Big Ten regular season title and third consecutive NCAA playoff trip ahead of them.

Looking back, the 2010-11 class was a bit of a change for Minnesota recruiting. Lucia added some age and grit to his lineup with Serratore and Parenteau. He also went a little off the radar with Nate Condon an older recruit from Wausau, Wisc. And then he got lucky to add a guy like Justin Holl. The Chicago second round pick has turned out to be such a team guy, switching positions from defense to forward and back to defense.

“It’s not only important to have your “blue chip” players that you recruit, but you also have to have some great role players too that understand their role, accept their role, are great teammates, and then can contribute when called upon,” said Lucia.

Lucia also added a back-up goalie to this class in Shibrowski. The goalie has only played in seven games but has given the team all they could ask for in a back-up goalie and Lucia felt he owed him the start on senior night.

“It’s not easy to be a number two or number three goaltender in hockey, we don’t play that many games. Obviously if Adam wasn’t having the kind of couple years he’s had, Shibby would have been able to get more games in,” said Lucia. “He’s taken it with grace. All he does is every day he works hard, he prepares, he stays out after practice, he’s out early--I can’t say enough good things about what a quality person Mike Shibrowski is.”

The game was Shibrowski’s second start of the season, and his teammates didn’t give him an easy night. Shibrowski didn’t get pushed around in his crease like when he played against Minnesota State in November, but the Nittany Lions made it a game for the entire 60 minutes Saturday.

“We play great team defense. Coach Guentzel does a great job with our guys making sure we take care of our end first, and it goes right on down the line to coach Lucia,” said Shibrowski. “That’s the main thing they stress, take care of our end, and that builds the offense.”

Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky got his team to play better positional hockey, back pressure the puck carrier harder, and block some shots. Penn State goalie PJ Musico also played a solid game in just his fifth game of the season and his teammates routinely cleared out the crease on loose pucks.

Still, it was Minnesota who controlled the pace of play and it was the Gophers who got on the board first. Travis Boyd skated the puck out from the corner, across the crease, and his first shot went off the goalie’s leg pad, but he put the rebound over the sprawling tender for his ninth goal of the season at 12:37. Michael Brodzinksi in his first game back from injury picked up an assist, as did Seth Ambroz

The Nittany Lions evened the score late in the second period. Defenseman Connor Varley hit one of his forwards on a stretch pass at the far blue line, and Curtis Loik skated in behind the Gopher defense, and put the puck in the upper right corner to tie the game at 17:14.

Serratore got the game winner at 13:15 with his third goal of the season. Boyd had tried to get the puck to the net, but misfired it up in the air. Serratore was able to get his stick on the bouncing puck and directed it into the top corner.

The Gophers are on the road for the next two weekends with series at Ohio State and Michigan before the Big Ten tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

“[This group] has hung some banners, and that’s what it’s about is trying to hang banners in this program and have success at the end of the year,” said Lucia. “Hopefully the way things ended last year, we can learn from it and have a better ending this year.”

Golden Nuggets: the Gophers improved to 15-1-3 at the venue this season, the one loss at Mariucci Arena is the fewest in a season in the facility’s 20-year history… the first power play unit of Mike Reilly, Taylor Cammarata, Kyle Rau, Boyd, and Hudson Fasching stuck together, while Brodzinski joined the second unit of Ben Marshall, Ambroz, Nate Condon, and Justin Kloos… the power play groups went 0-2 on the night with two shots… Heart of the Game was Serratore...Stars of the Game #3 Boyd, #2 Shibrowski, and #1 Serratore… Minnesota will practice the rest of the season at Ridder Arena as they’re done with Olympic size ice-sheets and will be on NHL sized rinks the rest of the way.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, March 1st, 2014 1 comments! | Post your comment

Gophers Steamroll Nittany Lions
Five Unanswered Goals Lead Minnesota to 5-1 Win

Minneapolis - There are two ways a team can come out of a weekend off: sloppy, or rested.

The Gophers were a bit of both Friday night, struggling in the very early minutes of the first period before finding their legs and flattening the Penn State Nittany Lions 5-1 at Mariucci Arena.

Minnesota (22-4-5 Overall, 11-2-2-0 B1G) came into the game nursing a slender one point lead in the B1G standings with two games in hand over the Wisconsin Badgers, who are idle this weekend. The Gophers could definitely use the points to regain their comfortable cushion in the league standings, and a dominating win tonight went a long way towards restoring that.

Penn State (6-21-2, 2-12-1-0) got an early powerplay in the first and capitalized, taking a 1-0 lead on a bungled Minnesota line change just 3:12 into the game. Another bad change led to a 2-on-0 chance for PSU, but Adam Wilcox made a big save to keep Minnesota within striking distance at 1-0 down.

Early on in the period, head coach Don Lucia was shuffling the lines due to the absence of Tom Serratore. Serratore, who dressed for the game, left sometime in the first period. Official ‘U’ sources say that Serratore left the game with an “upper body injury”, but that it was precautionary and he shouldn’t be out for too long.

The Gophers would tighten up and quickly turn the tables on the Nittany Lions, knotting the score at 1-1 just 7:55 into the period. Mike Reilly intercepted a pass at the blueline before finding a streaking Sam Warning at the top of the right circle, who ripped a snapshot past PSU goalie Matthew Skoff and into the back of the net.

Minnesota would continue the scoring barrage minutes later, when Hudson Fasching popped the puck in after a few frenzied seconds in front of the Penn State net to put the Gophers ahead for good. Minnesota would tack on another goal at 16:10 when Fasching, on a breakaway, somehow found Kyle Rau trailing just behind the play and passed it to him for an easy goal. Nate Condon would get another puck across the line late in the first, but after review the goal was disallowed due to an early whistle by the referee.

Up 3-1 after one period, the Gophers would continue to press their advantage in the second. Taylor Cammarata scored just 30 seconds into the period on the powerplay. The next few minutes featured a bevy of penalties, with the Gophers taking four penalties and drawing two in just over a five minute stretch. Minnesota would add to its lead on the penalty kill, with Nate Condon scoring the Gophers’ first shorthanded goal of the season unassisted at 12:30 of the frame to make the game 5-1.

Although the Gophers would have many chances throughout the rest of the second and the third, the Condon shorthanded goal would end the scoring, and Minnesota skated away with a 5-1 win and a 4 point lead in the B1G standings over Wisconsin.

The Gophers will look to complete the sweep of the Nittany Lions on Saturday night. Minnesota will also honor its seniors before the last home game of the season. The puck drops at 6PM, so get there early if you want to pay tribute to Gopher seniors Justin Holl, Jake Parenteau, Michael Shibrowski, Tom Serratore and Nate Condon.

Notes & Quotes

3 Stars of the Game: 3) Adam Wilcox (30 Saves), 2) Mike Reilly (2 assists), 1) Hudson Fasching (1 goal, 1 assist)

Other Gopher Point-Getters: Travis Boyd (2a), Kyle Rau (1g), Sam Warning (1g), Nate Condon (1g), Taylor Cammarata (1g), Ben Marshall (1a)

Specialty Teams: Gophers 1-3 on the powerplay, Penn State 1-5

Final Shots on Goal: Minnesota 36, Penn State 31. Attempted shots were 68-46 in favor of the Gophers.

The win moves the Gophers to 35 points in the B1G standings, 4 ahead of Wisconsin’s 31 and 10 ahead of Michigan’s 25. Wisconsin can max out at 43 points if they win out, so the Gophers can clinch at least a share of the B1G title with eight more points. Nine points (three non-shootout wins) will clinch the league title outright.

Gopher head coach Don Lucia, on the success of the first line: “The Rau line was good tonight, it’s good to see them get going.” On tonight’s goal scorers: “The guys we need to score scored goals tonight. At the end of the year you need your best players to score.” On Tom Serratore’s injury: “He was dinged up tonight. We’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow and go from there.” On whether senior goalie Michael Shibrowski will play on Senior Night tomorrow night: "There's a good chance of it."

Hudson Fasching, on the Rau breakaway goal: “Yeah, I actually saw him out of the corner of my eye. I was on my off hand so I didn’t really have a shot, so I passed it to him and I guess it worked out pretty well.”

by: Chris Eckes on Friday, February 28th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Gophers Overcome Flat First to Beat Michigan 4-1
Series Sweep Puts Gophers 7 Points Clear of Wisconsin, 12 Ahead of Michigan & Ohio State

Minneapolis – Coming off a sweep at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers last weekend, the Minnesota Gophers (20-4-5 Overall, 9-2-2-0 B1G) saw their once formidable lead in the B1G conference standings shrink to just four points over the Badgers and six over the Michigan Wolverines. With the Wolverines coming into town, the Gophers knew what they had to do to maintain their lead.

A 4-1 win Saturday night completed the sweep for Minnesota, who extended their B1G conference lead to 7 points over Wisconsin and 12 points over the Wolverines and Ohio State in the process.

The first period was a sloppy one for the Gophers. Michigan took an early 1-0 lead at just 1:31 of the period when Andrew Sinelli scored his first of the season on a shot from the high slot. Michigan would retain the advantage in play for the remainder of the period, looking much crisper than the Gophers in the first.

Unlike the Wolverines last night, though, the Gophers were able to score before their “bad period” ended to go into the locker room tied. Sam Warning scored his 11th of the year at 17:46 on a tip out front off a Kyle Rau shot along the ice from the right wing boards, and just like that the game was 1-1.

Both teams came out strong in the second, trading two-on-one chances back and forth early in the frame. The puck luck started to turn the Gophers’ way in the second period. Connor Reilly’s booming slapshot on a Minnesota odd-man rush struck paydirt to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead at 2:53 of the second. Just minutes later, Michigan’s own two-on-one rush was thwarted when the Wolverine player beat Adam Wilcox, but his shot clanked hard off the post / crossbar joint and clattered harmlessly away.

The middle period was full of more up-and-down action, but neither team was able to dent the twine again until Nate Condon scored at 15:20 to give the Gophers an important two-goal lead. Vinni Lettieri curled out of the corner with the puck and found Condon streaking up the high slot. The senior captain’s shot snuck through Michigan goalie Racine’s five-hole to make it 3-1, and the score would stay that way until the end of the period.

The Gophers would further add to their lead in the third period, as Hudson Fasching struck on a five-minute Minnesota powerplay to make it 4-1 at 8:37. The three goal lead would never be relinquished, and the Gophers would skate off with a sweep as the clock struck zero.

The Gophers have next week off before entering the stretch run of the season. They host Penn State February 28th and March 1st, before traveling to Ohio State and Michigan to round out the season.

Notes & Quotes:

Three stars of the game: 3) Hudson Fasching, 2) Connor Reilly, 1) Adam Wilcox

The final shots on goal were Michigan 29, Minnesota 24

Minnesota’s powerplay was only 1-5, but they held Michigan scoreless in all seven of their powerplay chances

Don Lucia, on the flow of the game: “The most important goal for us tonight was our first one.” On the break next week: “We have some bumps and bruises, but we should be back to 100% after the break.”

Connor Reilly, on the fourth line stepping up: “Coach sat us down on Wednesday and challenged us to step up. We’ve had one or two guys [on the fourth line] have good games, but we haven’t all been good as a three-man unit before. It was good for all three guys to play well.” On the slapshot: “I was trying to just blow it past him.”

Nate Condon, on scoring some goals: (visibly relieved) “It felt good!” On getting “separation goals” this weekend: “That was definitely key. It’s a lot easier playing with a two- or three-goal lead than a one-goal lead.” On the John Mayasich ceremony Friday night: “It was great to meet him, he seems like a really nice guy. Coach Guentzel came in before the game and told us his stat lines, and just about his story and Olympic triumphs.” On what Mayasich told them: “He told us to start scoring more, so maybe his touch rubbed off on us a little. He had enough points himself!”

by: Chris Eckes on Saturday, February 15th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Minnesota Mauls Michigan 5-3
Gophers win first game over Wolverines since November 2010

Minneapolis, Minn.—The ‘first’ Big Ten Title is a three-horse race between Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Gophers let Wisconsin get back into things last weekend, but #2 Minnesota (20-4-5) won a 5-3 race-horse hockey game over the #10 Wolverines (14-8-3) Friday to assert themselves as the leader down the stretch in front of 10,002 at Mariucci Arena.

“When you play Michigan, you understand they usually have a great 10 minute game to start out,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “We talked about it in our meetings and we wanted to make sure we matched that energy.”

Minnesota controlled play throughout the first 20 minutes outshooting Michigan 16-5. The Wolverines looked cautious on the big ice, leaving big gaps for Minnesota to gain speed through the neutral zone and Michigan kept getting beat to loose pucks in their own end.

“It was a good paced game, and we should be able to play in that kind of game and we did eventually,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “But we got ourselves behind the eight-ball, you can’t come in here and let them take a commanding lead like that—although we escaped the first period with only a 1-0 deficit.”

Justin Kloos was the player who gave Minnesota that 1-0 lead, scoring his 10th goal of the season 5:29 into the first period. Nate Condon kicked the puck toward the neutral zone, Kloos stepped right into it, deking a Michigan defender onto his knees along the way, and then shooting it in off the near post.

“Condon made a great play to get the puck off the wall, and he got the puck to me going full speed in the middle of the ice,” said Kloos. “Their D was kind of standing flat footed, so I tried to get him off balance a little bit and made a wide move, threw the puck wide side, and luckily it went it.”

Hudson Fasching also got his 10th of the year and gave the Gophers a 2-0 lead just 1:19 into the second period. Fasching split a pair of Michigan defensemen to get in the clear, made a move to open up the five-hole, and then laid a backhand through the opening.

Andrew Copp got Michigan on the board by finding some open ice on the power play and getting off a one-time through Adam Wilcox at 9:45 to make the score 2-1. Taylor Cammarata got the two-goal lead right back for Minnesota. While a Michigan defenseman fumbled the puck at his own blue line off the draw, Cammarata pounced and capitalized by scoring his seventh of the season at 9:51. Seth Ambroz then scored his team leading 13th goal of the season by tipping a Warning shot past Michigan goalie Steve Racine to give Minnesota its first power play goal of the night at 17:29 and a 4-1 lead.

JT Compher got a second power play goal for the Wolverines 18:35 in the second period as he skated right to the net on a two-on-one rush, putting it top shelf to make the score 4-2. Michigan got within one goal 2:47 into the third period when Zach Hyman won a board battle, made a strong move off the wall, and then tucked the puck inside the far post.

The Gophers fourth line of three freshman chipped in with a goal late in the third period as Gabe Guertler finished off a solid passing play from Connor Reilly and Vinni Lettieri for his first goal as a Gopher at 15:21. It was the team’s fourth goal from a freshman on the night, giving the freshman class 41 of the team’s 102 goals this season.

“You get to this time of year and you hope they’re not freshman anymore,” said Lucia. “It’s mid-February and we had six freshman forwards in our lineup tonight. They have to play, they have to make plays, and tonight they did.“

The game got more physical as the night went on and both teams answered the bell. Justin Holl dumped a Wolverine in front of his own bench in the third, and Michigan defenseman Michael Downing was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for chasing down Kyle Rau and delivering ‘contact to the head’ late in the game. Surely, the three-and-a-half layoff in this rivalry hasn’t cooled it between the two teams.

“Michigan is kind of a jawing team in general, they like to chirp out there,” said Fasching. “I think that definitely adds to it. I was chirping with JT and Copp and those guys out there the whole time. It makes a little more fun, you know.”

The two teams face each other again Saturday night at the traditional 7:10 PM puck drop with television back on Fox Sports North and ESPN1500 providing radio coverage again.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: Minnesota freshman have scored 41 goals this season. That’s good enough for the class to lead the nation as Boston College’s freshman class entered the weekend with 38 goals scored… Ambroz 3rd star, Guertler 2nd star, and 1st star and Heart of the Game was Warning… Lucia was happy to see Guertler and fourth line rewarded with a goal for the strong game they played Friday… Michigan outshot Minnesota 38-37, the seventh time the Gophers have been outshot… Lucia went back to the lines he started the year with, but he didn’t change up the power play units he’s been putting out lately. They went 1-8 against Michigan. The penalty kill units didn’t look too different, but uncharacteristically gave up two goals on three chances.

by: Eric Vegoe on Friday, February 14th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Bucky Beats Gophers 2-1 for Sweep
Wisconsin Gets Back Into Big Ten Race

Madison, Wisc.—It wasn’t the weekend Minnesota fans wanted, but it was definitely an eye opener for the Gophers. Wisconsin (16-8-2) tallied a pair of 2-1 wins over top ranked Minnesota, and suddenly the Gophers (19-4-5) have a Big Ten Title race on their hands.

Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 29-27, and it was the goalies shined. Adam Wilcox played his usual solid game, but Joel Rumpel, who struggled to find his game early in the season, was the big reason Wisconsin got their first sweep over Minnesota in 10 years.

“Didn’t he make it look easy,” said Mike Eaves to Rob Andringa after the game. “Like he was square, he moved well, his play with the puck—he was solid this whole weekend.”

Rumpel’s play held the Gophers to one goal both nights and now Minnesota’s Big Ten lead isn’t so comfy. Minnesota with 12 games played has 26 points, Wisconsin with 12 games played has 22 points and Michigan with 10 games played has 20 points. The first place Gophers control their own destiny with four games against the Wolverines, a series at home against Penn State and on the road with Ohio State. Besides games against the Gophers, Michigan will finish its series with Penn State and then have another series with the Nittany Lions and additional series against Ohio State and Michigan State.

It wasn’t unexpected for Wisconsin to give the Gophers all they could handle this weekend, as the Badgers were the pre-season favorites in the Big Ten’s inaugural season. However, Wisconsin played a light non-conference schedule and had unimpressive results.

Wisconsin fans have also been unimpressive so far this season, but with Minneosta in town the Badgers finally played in front of a full Kohl Center Saturday night, and the 15,539 fans were rewarded with Wisconsin getting on the board first. Eaves shuffled his lines putting Plymouth, Minn. native Grant Besse on a line with Mark Zengerle and Nic Kerdiles, and it paid off early. Frankie Simonelli pinched down on a loose puck, won it over to Kerdiles for a shot. Kerdiles then dove after a rebound and put the puck in space for Besse to slide it home at 19:40.

Midway through the second period controversy filled Kohl Center as Jake McCabe unloaded on Kyle Rau, as the Gopher captain dumped in a puck just past the center red line. McCabe’s hands got up in Rau’s chin and the officials assessed the Badger assistant captain with a 5-minute contact to the head major and game misconduct. The power play was delayed as Ben Marshall and Hudson Fasching both drew roughing after the whistle penalties for coming to the defense of Rau, but Seth Ambroz was able to even the game at 12:03 during the three-minute major power play. Ambroz fronted the net and put back a rebound on a Justin Kloos one-timer, it was Ambroz’s team leading 12th goal of the season.

The Badgers game-winning goal came early in the third period when Kerdiles took a wrist shot from just inside the blue line off the pipe and in the net at 4:33.

“When you go on the road, probably last night was going to be our best chance to win the game and we didn’t,” said Lucia to Andringa after the game. “I thought Wisconsin came back and played much better tonight than they did last night, which we expected them to do.”

Minnesota will face Michigan next with a traditional Friday/Saturday series in their first meeting against the team with the ugly M. Friday’s game is an 8pm start as part of the Friday Night Big Ten Network double-header and Saturday is on Fox Sports North. Both games will be carried on ESPN 1500.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: The last time Minnesota was swept was back in 2011 when Alaska Anchorage got two wins at Mariucci during the first round of the WCHA playoffs… The weekend snapped Minnesota’s 14-game winning streak. The Gophers have eight regular season games left, potentially two Big Ten Tournament games, and then potentially four NCAA Tournament games ahead, so they’ve got a chance to match their streak… Lucia seems to have settled on his special teams units after a lot of shuffling the first half of the season. The Gopher power play units of Mike Reilly, Taylor Cammarata, Kyle Rau, Hudson Fasching, and Travis Boyd, and then Ben Marshall, Sam Warning, Justin Kloos, Brady Skjei, and Ambroz have been pretty consistent the past few series.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, February 8th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Unbeaten Streak Over as Gophers Fall 2-1 to Badgers
UW's Rumpel, McCabe the Heroes for Bucky

Madison, WI –- All good things must come to an end.

Despite a good effort from the Maroon & Gold, great goaltending from Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel combined with the Badgers' patented brand of opportunistic offense felled the Gophers for the first time since November 24th, 2013. The loss was also the Gophers' first in B1G conference play.

Wisconsin got on the board first, capitalizing on a questionable interference penalty early on the Gophers’ Justin Holl to take the lead. Badger Frankie Simonelli’s shot from the left point squirted under Adam Wilcox’s pads and into the net at 14:47, and give Wisconsin a 1-0 lead.

The Gophers would bounce right back, though, as Kyle Rau forced a turnover behind the Badger net, which led to a Taylor Cammarata one-time goal at 17:20 of the period to tie the game at 1-1, and the first period would end that way.

Both goaltenders were tested in the second period, with Wisconsin and Minnesota trading scoring chances, but Adam Wilcox and Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel were up to the task, both stopping every shot they faced to keep the game tied at one heading into the third.

The Gophers started to tilt the ice in Wisconsin’s direction in the third, dominating the possession and the shots on goal. However, it was Wisconsin that would score late to take the lead in the third. Jake McCabe danced around towards the slot and fired a shot through traffic that beat Wilcox. The goal, at 13:47, gave the Badgers a slim 2-1 lead which they would never relinquish. Minnesota garnered a few more scoring chances late in the third, including a short 27 second powerplay at the end of the game, but they just could not crack Rumpel, and the Badgers would hand the Gophers their first ever loss in B1G conference play.

The teams face off again tomorrow night at 8:00 CST. Tomorrow’s game is the nightcap of the Big Ten Network’s “Frozen Faceoff” coverage, which starts with Michigan State taking on the Ohio State University.


•The Gophers allowed just 19 shots on goal to the Badgers Thursday, tying a season low.
•Minnesota is now 8-3-1 when their opponents score the first goal.
•The Gophers had 32 shots, including a 10-3 margin in the third period.
•Minnesota’s powerplay was 0-4 on the night, Wisconsin was 1-1.
•Minnesota’s 14-game unbeaten streak was broken tonight. The streak, active since November 24th, was the team’s longest since a 22-game streak in the 2006-2007 season.
•My pick for three stars of the game: 1) Joel Rumpel, 2) Jake McCabe, 3) Kyle Rau

by: Chris Eckes on Thursday, February 6th, 2014 4 comments! | Post your comment

Gophers Ride Rau Goal, Wilcox Shutout to Beat Spartans
Spartan Goalie Hildebrand Makes 37 Saves To Keep It Close

Minneapolis, MN – What a difference a day makes.

Coming off a disappointing tie and shootout loss in Friday’s contest, Minnesota (18-2-5 Overall, 7-0-2-0 B1G) returned to its winning ways Saturday, dominating the Michigan State Spartans (8-12-4 Overall, 2-4-3-3 B1G) en route to a 1-0 win. Despite an early disallowed goal, great Spartan goaltending and suspect finishing, the Gophers took control of the game early and never looked back. Minnesota played keep away with the puck all night and beat Sparty behind a Kyle Rau 1st period goal.

The Gopher team that came out onto the ice Saturday looked nothing like their Friday night counterparts. From the opening draw, Minnesota controlled every facet of the game. A big edge in offensive zone possession led to lots of Gopher scoring chances, but their first great chance, a would-be Ryan Reilly goal at 2:29, was waived off – the puck was saved on the goal line by an MSU defender.

The Gophers would continue their dominance throughout the period. Kyle Rau got the team on the scoreboard at 6:44 of the first, getting the puck past MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand on a second effort from down low. Mike Reilly and Hudson Fasching, who now both have points in 5 straight games, got the assists.

Although Minnesota piled up a 17-4 shots on goal advantage in the first, they were only able to get the one goal, and despite a great effort in the period only went into the intermission up 1-0.

The second period was more of the same, with the Gophers continuing to rack up shots on goal and scoring chances, but very few goals. Michigan State’s Hildebrand was the best player all night for the Spartans, and he held strong to keep MSU in the game in the second period. The middle frame featured several power plays for each team, but neither team was able to crack the goaltenders. The Gophers held a 30-12 shots advantage after two periods, but Minnesota still held just a slim 1-0 lead.

The third period was a more even contest. Minnesota relied on goaltender Adam Wilcox several times early in the third, and Wilcox made the big stops he needed to. The Gophers went to the powerplay with just over eight minutes gone in the third with a chance to put the game away, but some great saves from Spartan goalie Hildebrand combined with a Ben Marshall shot off the crossbar conspired to once again keep Minnesota off the board.

The Gophers continued to dominate the shots, but MSU put the pressure on late attempting to tie up the game. Sparty pulled their goalie with just under one minute to play, but the Gophers were able to hold on for the slim 1-0 victory.

Minnesota travels to Wisconsin next weekend to face off against the Badgers. The puck drops next Thursday at 7:30 PM.

Notes & Quotes

-The 3 stars were 3) Jake Hildebrand, 2) Adam Wilcox, 1) Kyle Rau

-Final shots on goal were 38-19 in favor of the Gophers

-Gophers now at 8-0-2-0 in the B1G on the year for 26 points. Their next closest competitor is Michigan, at 5-2-1-1 with 17 points. Minnesota does have two games in hand on the Wolverines.

-Gophers coach Don Lucia, on the nailbiter: “It was a tight game, what we expected.” On the return of Ben Marshall: “Marshall had a lot of jump, we played him a lot tonight.” On how the team played: “I would’ve been disappointed, but not upset, if we lost tonight. Not upset because we played well.”

-Kyle Rau, on scoring: “It felt good to get that goal.” On Wilcox: “It’s great to have such a great goalie as Wilcox back there.”

by: Chris Eckes on Saturday, February 1st, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Sparty Tops Gophers in Shootout

Michigan State Again Has Goldy’s Number in the Shootout

After a terrible series against their rival Michigan, last weekend, you knew that Michigan State would come out with their best effort tonight, and unfortunately it was enough to defeat the Gophers 3 -2 in a shootout. The Gophers recovered from a terrible few minutes in the first period but could not come up with an extra point after 65 minutes, losing after a total of six rounds.

The game was pretty evenly played through the first 10 minutes or so, but State took over and took a two goal lead into intermission. They first capitalized on a big mental blunder between Wilcox and his defensemen. On a dump in, Wilcox played the puck to his right, but three Gophers who were in the exact same spot decided to run into each other, Keystone Cops style. While they laid on the ice, Matt Berry gathered the puck, walked into the crease and passed to Mike Ferrantino, who tapped in an easy one.

Just moments later, after fumbling the puck around their zone a few times, not able to get the puck cleared, Villiam Haag – quickly becoming a Gopher nemesis – wisely put a quick wrist shot on net as Jake Bischoff for whatever reason was standing directly in front of Wilcox. Adam never saw it and Sparty had the crowd quieted and the Gophers scrambling.

The Gophers wouldn’t go quietly, at least in the period. Hudson Fasching slammed home a one-time rebound of a Travis Boyd shot to cut the lead in half. The power play tally, Fasching’s third in as many games, was big to get the team back into it before the break.

The Gophers certainly were the better team as the 2nd period went on, really outside of an odd man chance less than two minutes in, Sparty had nothing to show offensively. But it seemed like it just wasn’t going to be the Gophers’ night as State was locking everything down in front of Jake Hildebrand. The best chance for the Gophers was a great, wide open net look for Justin Kloos on the power play, but he clanged both posts.

The third started and Sparty seemed to be re-focused; their fore-check and puck possession was back to first period form and they seemed poised. But the Gophers got their break and tied the game. Justin Kloos deflected a shot into the net (from Brady Skjei at the point) off of his skate and the game was knotted at two.

The Gophers, though, really had to fight off the Spartans at the end, killing a late power play before putting a bit of pressure on the Spartans at the buzzer. The Gophers held a lot of zone time in OT but neither team could get anything through.

The Spartans, for the 2nd time this year then beat the Gophers in the shootout, scoring in the 5th & 6th rounds as the Gophers only managed a Taylor Cammarata goal in round 5 and only took home one point on the night.

Perhaps the Gophers will get a boost from Ben Marshall tomorrow night, or more importantly, a more focused game for 60 minutes. Losing (tying for the purposes of NCAA records) this game is not that big of a deal if they can come back and win in regulation tomorrow. Game starts at 7PM, back on FSN.

by: Jeff Oftos on Friday, January 31st, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Gophers Win First North Star College Cup
Wilcox stones two Bulldogs and Gophers get goals from Rau and Ambroz in shootout

Photo by: Craig Cotner Ambroz with the shoot out winner. St. Paul, Minn.—Gopher Coach Don Lucia told the media that Adam Wilcox was his best player Friday night as he made a season high 38 saves against St. Cloud State. Saturday, Wilcox had to match that total against Minnesota Duluth, but then came up with two more in the shootout leading Minnesota (18-2-4) to win the first North Star College Cup in front of 14,518 at Xcel Energy Center.

“I’m proud of our guys for finding the way this weekend. In both games we played two good teams and both games were a struggle,” said Lucia. “It was great to see our power play come alive this weekend, it has shown signs here in the last month, six weeks, it had been improving, but to get a couple power play goals each night was obviously huge and certainly the play of Adam kept us in there when we needed him.”

Minnesota had lost its previous three shootouts to Boston College, Michigan State, and Colgate, but against Minnesota-Duluth, tournament MVP Wilcox stopped both Alex Iafallo and Caleb Herbert while Kyle Rau and Seth Ambroz converted on their attempts. The game goes in the books for the NCAA as a 4-4 tie, but the Gophers came away with a much different feeling than the Bulldogs.

“I thought it was a heck of a hockey game and I thought both teams played hard as well, probably deserved maybe to end in a tie,” said Duluth Coach Scott Sandelin. “It’s always tough to lose shootouts, it would have been nice to keep playing, but give them credit as they capitalized on their shootout opportunities.”

The Gophers were outshot 42-27 on the night, but in a penalty filled game their special teams came through with three power play goals on seven opportunities while killing off five of the six Bulldog power play chances. The one special teams goal for Minnesota Duluth came on a five minute major assessed to Ben Marshall for contact to the head.

“Sometimes the final straw for our team when it comes down to it is getting more power play goals and special teams,” said Wilcox. “I think if we finish on those opportunities we don’t need to get 40 plus shots. We get those power play opportunities and capitalize on those and play defensive from there.”

Rau got Minnesota the lead midway through the first period when he slipped into the crease area and backhanded a bouncing puck past Minnesota-Duluth’s Aaron Crandall for his sixth goal of the season at 10:47.

The Bulldogs answered by capitalizing on a pair of Gopher mistakes 21 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. Herbert picked off a blind backhand centering breakout pass and buried it at 11:05. Austin Farley moments later found himself all alone on a 2-on-2 rush, putting the puck in the upper left corner at 11:26.

Nate Condon evened things up late in the period getting his fifth goal of the season with a power play goal. Marshall and Ambroz got the assists, but it was basically a scramble in the paint and Condon jumping on a loose puck to tie it up 2-2 at 15:51.

While the game was tied after the first 20 minutes, it seemed like the Bulldogs were pushing the play. Minnesota only blocked two shots on Duluth’s 22 attempts and Lucia noted that it wasn’t until the second period that his team started to get invested in the game by blocking shots and taking the body.

After a scoreless second, Hudson Fasching got his second power play goal of the weekend at 1:02 of the third period. Fasching was screening in front of the net as Mike Reilly shot the puck from the point, Fasching turned and then put away a rebound for his eighth goal of the season.

Minnesota Duluth got their only power play goal of the game when Farley got some redemption for Marshall’s ‘contact to the head penalty.’ Farley found some room on his left side of the ice, and tucked a shot into the lower left corner evening the score 3-3 at 2:24.

“I was really happy inside definitely to help our team because of that hit,” said Farley. Farley noted after the game that he didn’t see Marshall coming and his shoulder felt sore, but that it shouldn’t be an issue for next weekend.

Travis Boyd got the Gophers a late lead with his eighth goal of the season. It looked like the Bulldogs penalty kill was daring Minnesota to work the puck over to Boyd’s side and once they did, Boyd had half the zone open for him to walk right in and give the Gophers a 4-3 lead at 11:41.

The scoring wasn’t done though. Minnesota gave Joe Basaraba a few feet of space near the top of the left circle and sniped the upper right corner to tie the game 4-4 at 17:51.

Minnesota will face Michigan State next with a traditional Friday/Saturday series against Sparty. Friday’s game is an 8pm start as part of the Friday Night Big Ten Network double-header and Saturday is on Fox Sports North Plus. Both games will be carried on ESPN 1500.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: Minnesota serves as host for the North Star College Cup and the contract between the schools is for four years. Each year one of the non-Gopher schools has to sit out. This year it was Bemidji State sitting out, but in 2015 it will be St. Cloud State, in 2016 Minnesota-Duluth, and in 2017 Minnesota State. The school sitting out of the tournament will get the Gophers coming to their building as a consolation prize… Marshall was assessed a major and game misconduct at 19:17 of the second for a contact to the head. Marshall lined up Farley on a tip-in dump play and it looked like shoulder-to-shoulder, but Farley’s head snapped back and drew the call… Ambroz scored his fourth empty net goal of the season on Friday. He’s tied for the nation in empty netters… Minnesota is now unbeaten through their past 12 games. Attendance for the Gopher’s Friday night game was 14,388 and 14,518 for Saturday… St. Cloud State defeated Minnesota State 6-4 in the third place game. J.P. Lafontaine had two goals for the Mavs, but Jonny Brodzinksi also had two for the Huskies as #5 St. Cloud State scored four consecutive goals in the second period to take the lead on they held on for the win.
Photo by: Craig Cotner The Gopher win the inaugural North Star College Cup.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, January 25th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Gophers Win North Star Cup Opener 4-1 Over SCSU
Will Face UMD in Championship Game Saturday Evening

The first annual North Star College Cup got off to a rousing start in the Friday afternoon game, with UMD beating Minnesota State 5-4 in overtime. What augured to be the most interesting game of the tournament, however, was Friday night’s matchup of the #1 Gophers against the #5 St. Cloud State Huskies.

The matchup did not disappoint. The two top-ranked teams played 60 minutes of up-and-down hockey, with the Gophers winning a close game 4-1 behind goals from Travis Boyd, Nate Condon, Hudson Fasching and Seth Ambroz.

St. Cloud State came out of the opening gates strong, winning the first five minutes of play by bottling up Minnesota in their own zone. The Huskies’ two-man forecheck was especially effective in creating Gopher turnovers early on, helping them jump out to a 6-1 shots advantage early.

However, Minnesota was able to weather the storm, and took advantage of the first powerplay of the game to take a key 1-0 lead at 8:58. Hudson Fasching won the puck in the near corner before threading a pass into the slot, where a waiting Travis Boyd backhanded it home.

The goal was especially important in that it served to momentarily quell the St. Cloud attack. They’d come right back, though, as a Jake Bischoff hooking minor gave the Huskies a first period powerplay. The man-advantage was effective, giving St. Cloud plenty of scoring opportunities, but Adam Wilcox and the Gopher penalty killers came up big to keep the Huskies off the board.

Towards the end of the period, St. Cloud started to regain the momentum, getting plenty of chances and creating Minnesota turnovers. As the twenty minutes drew to a close, though, Minnesota still held a slender 1-0 lead.

The second started much more evenly, with the Gophers and the Huskies trading chances. Jonny Brodzinski would get the Huskies on the board at 11:22 of the period to knot the game at 1-1, but the Gophers would respond with two goals in the last five-plus minutes of the period to jump ahead by two after two.

The first Minnesota goal of the period was scored by Nate Condon, who deked around a diving Husky at the point before firing a wrister past SCSU goalie Ryan Faragher at 14:24. The Gophers would again go on the powerplay late in the period, and after weathering a shorthanded 3-on-1 rush Hudson Fasching was able to knock in a rebound from the slot to get the Gophers the all-important two goal lead at 18:14.

All that was left for the Gophers was to play a responsible defensive period to wrap up the victory, and that’s exactly what they did. Minnesota came out with an intent to play a physical third period, and the bruising hockey took its toll as the period wound down. The Gophers were the fresher team and were able to keep St. Cloud off the board for the final 20. Seth Ambroz added an empty netter in the final minute (with assists from Ben Marshall and Adam Wilcox) to put the nail in the coffin.

St. Cloud will face Minnesota State tomorrow afternoon, while the Gophers will move on to play UMD at 7:00 tomorrow evening in the championship game.

Notes & Quotes:

Point-getters: Travis Boyd (1G-1A), Hudson Fasching (1-1), Mike Reilly (0-2), Nate Condon (1-0), Seth Ambroz (1-0), Ben Marshall (0-1), Sam Warning (0-1), Adam Wilcox (0-1)

The Gophers were 2-2 on the Powerplay and 2-2 on the Penalty Kill

3 Stars – 3) Boyd, 2) Fasching, 1) Wilcox

Final shots on goal – 29 for the Gophers, 39 for the Huskies

Don Lucia: “I thought Adam [Wilcox]was our best player tonight, he and the specialty teams are the reason we won the game.”

Travis Boyd: It was “pretty big to get that first goal.” On physicality: “We weren’t playing physical at all in the first, so we were definitely trying to hit their D who were getting up in the rush in the third period.” On UMD tomorrow: “They ran us out of our own building the last time we played them, so we’re looking forward to getting them back tomorrow.”

Adam Wilcox, on getting the first star: “It’s nice to get that recognition, but I don’t really pay attention to that all that much.”

by: Chris Eckes on Friday, January 24th, 2014 0 comments | Post your comment

Warning Tricks Buckeyes
Sam Warning scores three as Minnesota beats Ohio State 4-2

Photo by: Craig Cotner Warning buries the puck to complete the hat trick. Minneapolis, Minn.—Sam Warning started off the season with five goals in the first four games and then went 15 games without one. Don Lucia moved him onto a line with Nate Condon last Monday and he’s found his scoring touch again.

“Sam can be a little bit of a streaky player from an offensive standpoint, but he scored some goals around the blue paint which is something we talked about and I thought that Condon was really good and maybe that goal he scored last weekend kind of got his confidence going as well,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “Hockey like all sports is a game of confidence. When you feel good about yourself you usually play better.”

Warning certainly was playing better scoring a natural hat trick against the Buckeyes, leading the top-ranked Gophers (17-2-3) to a 4-2 win in front of 9,972 at Mariucci Arena on Hockey Day Minnesota.

The Gophers started play dominating the pace as Ohio State scrambled to find their bearings on the 200 x 100 sheet. It was the Buckeyes first game on the big ice this season and they left huge soft spots in the neutral and defensive zone for the opening few minutes. Christian Isackson and Michael Brodzinksi both drew iron on one-timers as Minnesota outshot Ohio State 16-5 in the first 20 minutes.

“For us, first time on a big sheet all year, and I think everybody could see that right away,” said Ohio State Coach Steve Rohlik. “Lots of ice out there, and Minnesota they do a tremendous job they got great speed, great skill and they had a lot of openings there right away.”

It looked like it was only a matter of time before Minnesota took an early lead, but the Buckeyes starting the scoring. Nick Oddo battled with Justin Holl out front and tipped a Justin DaSilva point shot past Adam Wilcox 10:35 into the first period making it 1-0. David Gust won the puck out of a battle in the corner to get the second assist. Less than four minutes later, Ohio State took a two-goal lead when Drew Brevig scored on the man advantage. One of the Big Ten’s leading scorers Ryan Dzingel got his only point of the series with an assist.

The Gophers answered 24 seconds later as Mike Reilly received a pass from Nate Condon and then found Sam Warning on the back door for a tap in to make it 2-1 at 14:40.

“That was crucial--all of a sudden you go down two-rip and the very next shift you come back and score,” said Lucia. “It was a great play all the way. Mike jumped up into the play, and Sam went to that back post, and Mike Reilly put it right at his tape for an easy tap in, and all of a sudden you’re back in the game.”

Warning got his second goal just 1:34 into the second as Justin Kloos touched the pass to Condon, who slid the puck in front of the crease right on to Warning's tape for another easy tap-in on the back door. The Gophers took a 3-2 lead 8:42 into the second period when Mike Reilly quickly got the puck to the net, Hudson Fasching tipped it, and Warning cleaned up the rebound on the back door.

Seth Ambroz capped off the scoring with his 10th goal of the season at 7:13 of the third period, reading the Ohio State breakout like a linebacker jumping the slant route, for an interception and then firing the puck into the upper left corner to make it 4-2.

“They have a great team, we just tried to get behind their D, and get pucks low,” said Warning. “I think our speed took advantage of their D a bit this weekend.”

The coaches and players have both been trying to get Warning going a bit more. Lucia noted that his play is better when he makes smart, strong plays on the puck instead of the cute, fancy plays. Warning has gotten the message and now Minnesota has yet another line producing for them.

“Top to bottom they’ve got great speed, great skill, and I think their back end is the difference for them, said Rohlik.

Photo by: Craig Cotner Warning's hat trick sequence Minnesota heads to Xcel next weekend for the North Star College Cup. They’ll face St. Cloud State Friday at 7pm, and then will play either Minnesota-Duluth or Minnesota State on Saturday. Both games will be televised on FSN and carried on the airwaves by ESPN 1500.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: The Gopher penalty kill had gone five games without giving up a goal, but Ohio State was able to get a clean one-timer off from the point to break the streak… Saturday was Ohio State’s first chance to get on an Olympic sized ice sheet. They were able to get a light skate in during the morning and then of course the 5 pm game… Minnesota holds the nation’s longest unbeaten streak in the nation going 8-0-2… the crowd last night of 45,021 was the largest attendance ever for a hockey game in Minnesota… Minnesota is 14-1 against Ohio State, only loss was in 1998… Last natural hat trick by a Gopher, Jay Barribal 10/9/10.

by: Eric Vegoe on Saturday, January 18th, 2014 10 comments! | Post your comment
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