Larry Ross during his tenure as head coach at International Falls High School (Duluth News Tribune)
Gopher hockey All-American and long-time International Falls High School coach Larry Ross will be one of 10 individuals inducted into the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame this year.
A native of Duluth, Minn., and graduate of Morgan Park High School, Ross was a First Team All-American in goal for the Gophers in 1951 after serving in the Navy. The netminder would go on to an incredible prep coaching career at International Falls High School -- leading the Broncos to six Minnesota state titles and a 566-169-21 record including a 58-game unbeaten streak from 1964-66.
He received numerous honors and accolades, and even wrote a book entitled "Hockey For Everyone." He was later honored by his peers in 1983, when he was named Coach of the Year by the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association. Then, in 1985, he was awarded the National High School Special Sports award by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, while in 1988, he was the recipient of the John Mariucci College Award for his contribution to College Hockey by the American College Hockey Coaches Association.
Ross, who passed away in 1995, was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
The 2013 class of inductees are Jon Andresen (baseball), Jim Carter (football/hockey), Natalie Darwitz (women's hockey), Rick Naumoff (men' tennis), Charlie Sanders (football), Krissy Wendell Pohl (women's hockey), Gary Wilson (Women's Cross Country and Women's Track & Field), Lloyd LaMois (men's track), Louis Lick (men's golf) and Larry Ross (men's hockey). La Mois, Lick and Ross will be inducted into the Pioneer Division, which honors those who were at Minnesota prior to 1955.
The official induction of the 2013 class will take place during a ceremony to be held in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 24. A social hour beginning at 6 p.m. will kick off the event, with the main program starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event will be available for purchase through the Gopher Athletics Ticket Office online at mygophersports.com or by calling 1-800-U-Gopher beginning August 15.
The University of Minnesota "M" Club is a nonprofit organization representing all letterwinners from University of Minnesota athletics teams. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor achievements and to preserve the tradition of those athletes, coaches and athletic staff members who have contributed in an outstanding and positive way to the University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Department.
The criteria for induction to the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame include four different categories: significant accomplishments by a former student-athlete; significant achievements by a former coach or administrator; significant contributions of time, talent or resources to the athletics department by someone other than an athlete, coach or administrator, and significant professional achievement by a former Minnesota student-athlete.
Former student-athletes inducted for significant accomplishments become eligible for selection five years after the expiration of their eligibility, while former coaches and staff members must have served the department for five years to be eligible.
SEATTLE, WASH. -- Seattle is a great city, and it's been a nice place for Minnesota's first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003. It's been a fun experience for this team to compete at the Seattle Regional, and the Golden Gophers showed that they can compete with any team at this level.
This regional, as most do, had four teams with great pitchers, and junior right-hander Sara Moulton stood out by striking out 29 batters in three games to run her final season total to 308. A First Team All-Great Lakes Region and First Team All-Big Ten selection this season, Moulton went 32-12 this season, and she gives the Gophers the key ingredient they'll need to make a return to a regional during her senior season in 2014.
Minnesota loses catcher Kari Dorle and first baseman/designated player Alex Davis, and both will be missed. Dorle has been a rock behind the plate for the Gophers, as she started 214 of 216 possible games over the past four years. Davis and Dorle each finish their careers with 23 home runs, and Davis was recently named to the Big Ten's All-Tournament Team.
But the future of this program is bright, as the vast majority of this team's offensive production and all of its pitching returns for next season. The Gophers have combined to hit 101 home runs over the past two years, and Minnesota has won 30-plus games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004, when it ended a nine-year stretch of 30 or more victories per season.
Head coach Jessica Allister has returned the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament after a nine-year absence and has built the foundation of a program that has the potential to have sustained success for several years.
It's tough to put a wrap on such a fun season, but only one team in the NCAA Tournament gets to end its season with a win. This season has truly been a journey. Of Minnesota's 55 games, 49 were played outside of Minneapolis. That's a testament to the strength and resiliency of this program. It doesn't matter where they play, these Gophers are able to focus on the task at hand -- competing hard, giving it their best effort, and more often than not, winning the game.
SEATTLE -- Here's an awesome video of what the team was up to on Wednesday. Michael Kyllo-Kittleson works her magic once again! This is so much fun to watch, and it shows you some of the things I wrote about below.
Former Gopher great and 14-year NHL veteran Corey Millen has been named the head coach of the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League, the organization announced yesterday in a press release.
Millen is a Cloquet, Minnesota native and has had previous head coaching experience in the NAHL with the Wasilla Spirit and Alaska Avalanche organization, mostly recently during the 2011-12 season.
"I am very excited to be back coaching in the NAHL," said Millen. "My experiences in the league have been a lot of fun and ones that are memorable." As for going back to his home state of Minnesota and hometown of Cloquet, Millen said that he is looking forward to the familiarity and opportunity. "It is a great opportunity because of the people I know and the knowledge I have of the area. The location of the Wilderness is very exciting because the league continues to grow the footprint into areas that are passionate about hockey and located close to so many NCAA schools. I think it will give us a great chance to be successful on the ice and also moving players onto the next level."
One of the most productive players to ever come through the University of Minnesota, Millen ranks third in program history with 241 points (119 goals, 122 assists in 149 career games) behind only John Mayasich and Pat Micheletti. The forward was a Second Team All-American in 1986 and a three-time All-WCHA honoree (1984-85, 85-86, 86-87). He also captained the Gophers program in the 1986-87 season before starting a pro career that lasted 14 years and included stints with the New York Rangers (who drafted Millen in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft), the Los Angeles Kings, the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames. In 331 professional games, Millen tallied 209 points and 90 goals.
"We are excited to welcome Corey Millen to the Wilderness organization," said Wilderness Owner and Governor Scott Thielen. "With his vast hockey knowledge and coaching experience, particularly at this level, we are confident he will lead our organization to become one of the best in the league."
SEATTLE -- Following today's practice, the team went back to the hotel for a quick stop before heading off for a fun afternoon at Pike Place Market.
All but a few players were able to make the trip, and it was a perfect afternoon for wandering around and checking out all the fresh produce and seafood stands, as well as the various artists who sell their goods. It's such a cool area, located on Pike Hill that leads down to the waterfront of Elliott Bay.
We arrived at 1:00 p.m., and the team broke up into several groups. We decided to meet back where the bus dropped us off at 4:00 p.m., so that gave us plenty of time to check things out.
The group I was with included the coaching staff of Jessica Allister, Jessica Merchant, Piper Ritter and Dannie Skrove, as well as certified athletic trainer Jaime Hall, and student manager Tom Schreder, who completed his final test as an undergraduate student today! Congrats, Tom!
We immediately walked to the market where they toss the fish, and were entertained by their antics, as they showed off for the large crowds that gather to watch. Dannie even convinced one of the guys to toss a fish for her.
I didn't get to see this, and apparently there's video of it (thanks, Michael Kyllo-Kittleson!), but both Kaitlyn and Ty were allowed to catch and toss a fish! Hopefully, we'll be able to post that video for you soon.
While we were at that market, Coach Allister asked one of the guys for his recommendation for a great place to get some seafood for lunch, and he recommended a place called Etta's. Let's just say the guy knew what he was talking about, because it was fantastic! Most of us ordered fish and chips, with fresh cod, and the majority of us also ordered a cup of clam chowder, which was delicious! I've attached a pic of my plate in the pictures below -- not the healthiest choice, but who cares?
After lunch, we all walked down to the waterfront and checked out the amazing scenery of the snow-covered mountains on the horizon, with the beautiful bay and surrounding hills all around. It is so scenic.
Our group then split up, with the coaches deciding to head back up the hill to a grassy area near where the bus dropped us, and Dannie, Jaime, Tom and myself deciding to look for ice cream on the pier where there's a ferris wheel. We found a place with home made ice cream -- I had the odd combination of coffee caramel and banana. Those are two flavors I could not resist. For me, any time there's coffee ice cream, I'm in. Both flavors were great, but in hindsight, I'd go for two scoops of the coffee caramel.
After getting our ice cream, we walked back up the stairs to 1st Street, and eventually made our way back to the street where we started. I made one more purchase, stopping to buy a coffee at the original Starbucks, and then found most of the team hanging out on the grassy area where the coaches were sitting.
Many among us bought fruit from the farmer's market, and everyone seemed to have had a great afternoon enjoying life in one of Seattle's most famous hangouts. Today was a chance to have fun. Tomorrow, it's all about softball!
SEATTLE -- Today, the team had breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to the University of Washington for its first chance to practice at Husky Softball Stadium.
The Gophers began by hitting in the Neil Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility located adjacent to the softball field. It's a very nice indoor practice area for several sports. The Gophers spent an hour inside.
Minnesota then spent a little more than an hour practicing on the field at picturesque Husky Softball Stadium, and several players hit bombs that made a loud clank when they cleared the outfield wall and landed in the aluminum bleachers. It's a great location, and Washington has a proud softball history that includes a National Championship during 2009.
Below are some more pictures of the facility from this morning. The football stadium, which is undergoing a $300 million renovation, sits directly behind the softball stadium.
The Golden Gophers have officially arrived in beautiful Seattle, Wash., or "The Emerald City," as it's known. Minnesota took a chartered flight on Sun Country Airlines early this morning, and we landed around 9:30 a.m. PT. The flight was smooth, and it was fun to see the Cascade Mountains and all the evergreens and picturesque scenery around the Seattle area as the flight descended.
With a charter, we were able to bypass the terminals, etc., and there was a bus waiting for us on the tarmac.As soon as our luggage was loaded directly from the plane to the bus, we drove to breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe, and we drove past Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field (amateur pictures below) on the way.
Within five minutes of arriving at our hotel, which is close to the UW campus, several players and staff members headed off to walk to the University Village shopping area. It's a very cool outdoor mall with lots of high-end retailers and specialty stores to go along with typical mall favorites like Gap, Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic.
A majority of the players headed directly to Lulu's, and were very excited. Tom, the student manager, and I found the "man area," which had a nice leather chair and a book by former Washington football coach Don James about "what it means to be Husky." That made me laugh...not at Coach James, but just that it was there in the middle of Lulu's.
This afternoon, the team will practice at Seattle University, and then we're headed to dinner in the Pike Place Market area. It's fun to be here, and to experience a little of Seattle before it's time to focus on the task at hand for all the players. Hope some of you are going to be able to join in us in the Pacific Northwest.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- This afternoon, the team practiced at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for the last time this week before it departs for Seattle on Wednesday. Prior to practice at 2:30 p.m., head coach Jessica Allister and several players took part in interviews with members of the local media.
All four major television stations -- FOX 9 News, KARE-11, KSTP-5 and WCCO-4 -- were there, as well as Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Mike Grimm.
For me, one of the best rewards on days like today is to hear the positive feedback from the media personalities about how poised and well-spoken the members of this team are. Dawn Mitchell of FOX 9, in particular, was impressed with how all of the players she interviewed seemed very comfortable in front of the camera.
"Sometimes, a player will have a great personality, but they tense up when they get in front of the camera and the interview doesn't turn out as well as you'd like it," Mitchell said. "I was so impressed with all of the girls on this team, and we got a great sound bite from each one of them."
Some of the players who did interviews expressed a bit of anxiety to me about going in front of the cameras. It's not something we regularly get to do. I just told them to relax and explained that the questions were all going to be about softball, which is something they definitely know how to talk about, so there was no need to worry.
In the end, these Gophers did just fine. Just call them media stars.