Summer Roundup: June 9

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Throughout the summer, GopherSports.com will keep an eye on current and former players playing professional and amateur baseball. This week's summer roundup includes Glen Perkins, the retirement of a former Gopher and some Northwoods notes.

Major Leagues
*Glen Perkins is third in the American League and tied for seventh overall with 16 saves. He has struck out 37 batters and walked just five in 27 1/3 innings pitched for the Twins.

Minor Leagues
*Three former Gophers--Nate Hanson, Michael Kvasnicka and Kyle Knudson--are currently on the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats roster. Hanson is hitting .257 with three home runs and 27 RBIs.
*AJ Pettersen, who was also recently with the Rock Cats, wrote a blog about retiring from playing.
*Tom Windle has made 11 starts for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Dodgers.) He has a 4.38 ERA. Windle pitched six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in a recent start on May 28.
*DJ Snelten has a 3-0 record and 1.15 ERA as a reliever for the Augusta GreenJackets (Class A affiliate of the Giants). He has 20 strikeouts.

Northwoods League
*Michael Handel is hitting .351 with three doubles for the Madision Mallards.
*Tyler Hanson has given up just one unearned run in four outings for the Willmar Stingers, and has also batted.
*Dan Motl has been hit by pitch a league-leading six times for Willmar.
*Dalton Sawyer has one save and a 1.50 ERA for the St. Cloud Rox.

Other
*Tony Skjefte is hitting .400 for the Minneapolis Lakers.
*Matt Stemper is hitting .316 for the Springfield Sliders.
*Kyle Crocker is hitting .385 for the Brainerd Bees.
*Neal Kunik pitched seven innings, gave up two runs on three hits and struck out four in a win for the Eagan Bandits.

McCutcheon on the Gopher Road Trip

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On June 3-4, the Gopher Road Trip continued its trek across towns in Minnesota. This time, it included volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon. Take a look at his adventure through the four southern towns in Greater Minnesota.

Sara's Summer in the Pros: Entry #1

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Sara Moulton, a senior on the Minnesota softball team in 2014, left the Gophers as one of the most decorated players in program history after helping lead to the team to its first Big Ten Tournament title in 15 years, as well as its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. Upon completion of her collegiate career, the Eagan, Minn. native signed on to play professionally with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch league. The Bandits selected Moulton with the fifth overall pick in the NPF Collegiate Draft in March. Throughout the summer, Moulton will document her first season in the professional ranks.

Photo Gallery

Now that I have had a chance to look back on our 2014 Gopher softball season, I couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished as a team this year. Some of the moments that stand out most to me were our team wins against LSU, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Michigan. Winning the B1G Tournament was incredible and it was a moment that I would give anything to go back and re-live again. Then came the regional tournament and we were able to show everyone what Gopher Softball was really about. We fought and clawed our way through regionals and earned the first super regional bid in Gopher Softball history. Although we fell short at supers, it was an incredible experience and one that we as a team will never forget. There are big things coming for the Gopher Softball program, and I couldn't be happier to have had a chance to be a part of the regrowth period.

Just 14 hours after arriving home from super regionals, I packed up my campus apartment, boarded a plane, and headed off to Chicago to start the next chapter. This new chapter included a new home, a new roommate, my new Chicago Bandits teammates, and the National Professional Fastpitch league. After my plane landed I was picked up and brought to my first Chicago Bandits practice. It was a blast getting to meet my new teammates and stepping foot on the Bandits' all-turf field for the first time. We had two team practices before getting on a bus and heading to our first games in Akron, Ohio.

Thumbnail image for moulton1.jpg

We played the Akron Racers in a four-game series--two games away and the final two games at home in a span of four days. It was weird suiting up in orange and black for the first time. I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself at first since I had been wearing maroon and gold for the past four years. I was in third relief for our first game and got to make my NPF debut in the bottom of the sixth inning when we were trailing 4-0. I will admit it, I was extremely nervous!

I threw eight pitches and recorded three groundball outs. The next day I got the start against Akron and felt a lot more comfortable on the mound. After four innings of work, I was relieved of my pitching duties. I also got to start the second game of our home series against Akron and pitched the first four innings of that game. My family was able to make the trip down to Chicago for our home series and I was grateful they got to watch me pitch--I think this was the first time in four years that my dad (Jeff) sat in his seat for two whole games! We finished our four-game series with the Akron Racers with a 3-1 record.

It is an absolute privilege to have the opportunity to extend my softball career and play for the Chicago Bandits in the NPF. My new teammates have been extremely welcoming and fun to be around. It's an honor to be able to take the field with some of the best players that have played the game. On Tuesday night, we will play an exhibition game against a men's baseball team and we have another two-game home series this weekend against Akron. I am excited for what is in store for this summer and I can't wait to challenge myself and grow as a softball player at the professional level.

Mike Reilly to Return for Junior Season

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!First Team All-American Mike Reilly
Go Gophers!

MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - First Team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Mike Reilly will return to the University of Minnesota men's hockey program for his junior season, the defenseman told the team this week. 

"I'm excited to be coming back to Minnesota next season," Reilly told GopherSports.com. "We've been incredibly successful over the last two years, and I'm looking forward to more of the same next year."

The Chanhassen, Minn., native was the first Gopher to earn First Team All-America honors since Ryan Stoa in 2009 and was also a First Team All-Big Ten selection for the 2013-14 campaign. The sophomore led all Big Ten defensemen and ranked among the top-10 defensemen nationally with nine goals, 24 assists and 33 points this season. 

Reilly helped the Gophers win the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game as a sophomore in 2013-14 and was a member of Minnesota's WCHA regular-season championship squad as a freshman in 2012-13.

In 78 career games, the defenseman has tallied 47 points, 12 goals and 35 assists over two years with the Maroon & Gold. Reilly has missed just three games so far in his Minnesota career after being named to the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team and helping the program to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. The defenseman tallied a goal and two assists at the tournament. 

In his junior season, Reilly could potentially become just the sixth Gopher in program history to repeat as a First Team All-American (Jordan Leopold, Mike Crowley, Brian Bonin, Jack McCartan, John Mayasich) while the Gophers will compete for their fourth-straight conference regular-season title and the team's third trip to the Frozen Four in four years. 

The defenseman is one of three Reilly brothers on Minnesota's roster (Connor, Ryan) while their father, also Mike, is a Gopher Hockey alum. 

Reilly was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

-Pride on Ice-

Gopher Volleyball Update (5/27/14)

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Gopher Volleyball was in the news a few times over the course of the weekend. Head coach Hugh McCutcheon sat down with the Pioneer Press to discuss his last 21 months here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Here's a question/answer session with McCutcheon.

Former Gopher Dana Knudsen caught up with her high school and discussed her ability to come to Minnesota and eventually play international volleyball. Check out her story here.

Gopher alum Tori Dixon is also busy this week. She was named to USA Volleyball's Montreux Volley Masters tournament, held May 27 to June 1 in Montreux, Switzerland.

Speaking of alums, Gophersports.com caught up Rochele (Goetz) Williams, who received the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1988. A co-captain for the Gophers, she and her husband Brian, were both U of M alums and now have a son, Maxx, also a U of M athlete on the football team. Catch up with Rochele here.

After catching up with the alums, we turn to the future as the 2014 season approaches. Ranking the top 30 recruiting classes, Minnesota was ranked 19th by prepvolleyball.com. Check out the story here.

NHL: Columbus, Richards Ink Two-Year Extension

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Go Gophers!Columbus head coach and Gopher Hockey All-American Todd Richards
Go Gophers!
The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that the organization has signed head coach and former Gopher Hockey All-American Todd Richards to a two-year contract extension through the 2016-17 season. 

Richards was a four-year letter winner at Minnesota (1986-89) and helped the Gophers reach the Frozen Four in all four years of his college career. The defenseman also helped Minnesota to WCHA MacNaughton Cups in 1988 and 1989 and tallied 158 points (30 goals, 128 assists) in 167 career games. Richards still holds the school record for career points by a defenseman and career assists by a defenseman. 

Press release from BlueJackets.com...

COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Head Coach Todd Richards to a two-year contract extension through the 2016-17 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. 

The club will hold a press conference with Richards on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at Nationwide Arena, which will also be streamed LIVE on BlueJackets.com and the official Blue Jackets mobile app.

Richards, 47, has led Columbus to an 85-70-16 record in 171 games behind the bench, including a franchise-best mark of 43-32-7 in 2013-14. The Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in club history this past season and posted the first playoff wins in club history in a six-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series vs. the Metropolitan Division champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Todd has done an outstanding job for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we're pleased that he will continue to lead our team," said Kekalainen. "We believe he is one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players. He's played a significant role in our recent success and we look forward to having him continue to be a big part of our franchise moving forward."

Richards was named head coach of the Blue Jackets on May 14, 2012, signing a two-year contract after originally joining the club as an assistant coach on June 20, 2011 and taking over as interim head coach on Jan. 9, 2012. After guiding the club to an 18-21-2 mark over the final 41 games of the 2011-12 campaign, he led Columbus to a 24-17-7 mark and the highest winning percentage in team history (.573) in 2012-13. He has compiled a 162-141-32 record (.531) with the Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild during his NHL coaching career.

"I'm very excited to be a part of this club and I appreciate the support I've received from the McConnell family, Mike Priest, John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and everyone at the Blue Jackets organization," said Richards. "Our management group has done a fantastic job assembling a competitive team and we've definitely taken some very positive steps over the past two seasons. I'm looking forward to continuing to help this club grow and achieve its ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup championship." 

After being named the second head coach in Wild history on June 16, 2009, Richards led Minnesota to a 38-36-9 mark (.512) in 2009-10 and a 39-35-8 record (.524) in 2010-11. In 2008-09, he served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks and helped the club capture the Presidents' Trophy with an NHL-best 53-18-11 record.

Prior to his stint with the Sharks, Richards spent two seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 2006-08, compiling a 98-49-13 record (.653) and leading the club to the 2008 Calder Cup Final. He also coached the PlanetUSA squad at the 2007 Rbk Hockey/AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals from 2002-06, helping the club to a pair of West Division titles, two appearances in the Calder Cup Final and the 2004 Calder Cup championship.

Richards, who was born on Oct. 20, 1966 in Crystal, Minnesota, played four seasons at the University of Minnesota from 1985-89. He was a three-time WCHA Second All-Star Team pick, helped the Golden Gophers win Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) titles in 1988 and 1989 and reach the NCAA title game in 1989. He served as the team's captain and earned Second Team All-America honors as a senior and is the school's all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 30-128-158.

Montreal's third pick, 33rd overall, in the 1985 NHL Draft, Richards made his professional debut in 1990 and appeared in eight career NHL games with the Hartford Whalers between 1990-92, collecting four assists and four penalty minutes. His playing career spanned 13 seasons, mostly in the AHL and International Hockey League. He helped Springfield win the 1991 Calder Cup championship, was a three-time IHL All-Star and won the 2001 Turner Cup title with the Orlando Solar Bears. He wrapped up his career in 2001-02 with Servette Geneve in Switzerland.

Storify Recap: 2014 B1G Outdoor Championships

Take a look at a social media recap of the Gophers' experience at the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

NHL: Vanek, Leddy Set for Conference Finals

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Go Gophers!Thomas Vanek 


Gopher Hockey will feature two alums in the 2014 Stanley Cup Conference Finals as Thomas Vanek and the Montreal Canadiens will take on the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals while Nick Leddy and the Chicago Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals.

Vanek will be making his third career conference finals appearance and his first with Montreal. The nine-year NHL veteran previously reached the conference finals in his first two NHL seasons, losing to Edmonton in seven games in his rookie year of 2006 and then Ottawa in six games in 2007.

The Austrian forward, who started this season with Buffalo before being dealt to the New York Islanders and then again to Montreal, has eight points (five goals, three assists) so far this postseason in 11 games while his best statistical playoff year was 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 16 games in 2007. Vanek has 28 points (20 goals, eight assists) in 47 career playoff games.

Leddy, meanwhile, has made the playoffs in each of his four NHL seasons including last year when the defenseman helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in six games over Boston.  This season marks Leddy's second appearance in the Western Conference Finals with the former Gopher tallying two assists in 11 playoff games for the Blackhawks this year. Leddy has seven points (one goal, six assists) in 47 career playoff games.

After 16 Gopher Hockey alums skated in the NHL during the regular season, eight earned berths to the Stanley Cup playoffs  - Vanek, Leddy, Erik Haula (MIN), Keith Ballard (MIN), Paul Martin (PIT), Alex Goligoski (DAL), Erik Johnson (COL) and Jordan Leopold (STL). Gophers alum and Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards also led his team to the playoffs as did newly appointed Philadelphia Flyers president Paul Holmgren. 

Mannon's Pommel Horse Score Among All-Time Best

By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant

This season, Gopher gymnast Ellis Mannon earned the fifth-highest NCAA pommel horse score since 2008, with a 15.950, it was announced as the College Gymnastics Association revealed a comprehensive listing of top scores for men's gymnastics events (since 2008) this week.

Mannon, the 2014 NCAA and Big Ten pommel horse champion, recorded the score at the Gophers' first meet of the regular season, the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 18, 2014.

The top NCAA pommel horse score also was recorded at the Windy City Invitational as Ohio State's Michael Newburger scored a 16.250. Newburger finished ninth in the event at this year's NCAA Championships.

Former Gopher Mitchell Mays dominates the vault rankings, with five of the top 10 all-time scores. Mays recorded all of those scores during the 2008 season, whhen he was an All-American in the event.

The Gophers also saw their opponents record several other all-time best scores during the 2014 season.

Newburger's teammate Larry Mayer scored the second highest vault since 2008, with a 15.800 at the Windy City Invitational this year. The Gophers also saw Michigan's Sam Mikulak break several records this year at the Big Ten Championships. Mikulak recorded the highest all-around score since 2008 with a 93.700, and also the best parallel bars score with a 16.100. Mikulak recorded the seventh highest all-around score at this year's NCAA championships with a 91.100, giving him the NCAA all-around title.

The 2014 year marked a successful season for outstanding men's gymnastics scores.

Video: B1G Outdoor Championships Preview

The Golden Gophers head to the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships this weekend. Minnesota looks to build on its fourth-place showing at this year's B1G indoor championship.

Women's track & field assistant coach Sarah Hopkins previews the outdoor championships, analyzing the Gophers' distance runners as they approach the championships.

Gopher sprinters Megan Geyen, Jessica Waldvogel and Titania Markland discuss their goals and the atmosphere at the B1G championships.