Mr. Kanno Featured on KARE 11

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Some of you may have wondered how our volunteer coach, Mr. Koichiro Kanno came all the way from Japan to Minnesota.

One of eight coaches in the running to become the 2020 Olympic coach, Kanno was placed at the University of Minnesota by the Japan Volleyball Association. With the international notoriety of head coach Hugh McCutcheon and director of operations, Nao Ikeda, hailing from Japan, the placement was a perfect fit. In his second year helping with the Gopher program, Kanno's skills will also help as the Gophers travel to Japan, March 14-22.

KARE 11 Television recently caught up with Kanno, Ikeda and McCutcheon.

Check out this video feature HERE.

NHL: Leopold Comes Home to Minnesota Wild

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!2002 Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold
Go Gophers!

MINNEAPOLIS ( - Welcome home, Jordan Leopold! The 2002 Hobey Baker Award winner and two-time First Team All-American for Gopher Hockey has been acquired at the NHL trade deadline by the Minnesota Wild.

A native of Golden Valley, Minn., Leopold has played in 677 NHL games over a 12-year NHL career, tallying 213 points (67 goals, 146 assists) for seven different organizations (Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus). Leopold also represented the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

In 164 career games at the University of Minnesota, Leopold scored 45 goals (the most ever by a Gophers defensemen) and had 99 assists (fourth-most among Gophers defensemen) for a career total of 144 points (third most among Gophers defensemen and 32nd all-time at Minnesota). The blue-liner's college career culminated with a memorable weekend in St. Paul as Leopold was named the fourth Hobey Baker Award winner in school history and then proceeded to lead the Maroon & Gold to a national championship the following day at Xcel Energy Center.  

The Minnesota team captain twice earned First Team All-America accolades as well as WCHA Defensive Player of the Year honors (2001, 2002) and earned All-WCHA distinctions in each of his four seasons with the Maroon & Gold (First Team: 2000-01, 2001-02; Second Team: 1999-2000; Third Team/All-Rookie Team: 1998-99).  

One of 16 Gopher Hockey alums to play in the NHL this season, Leopold is now the sixth former Gopher in the Minnesota Wild organization - joining Thomas Vanek, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Stu Bickel and Keith Ballard. Ballard and Leopold were teammates on Minnesota's national championship squad in 2002.                                                                                                                   

Gophers featured on the MAGIC Bus (3/2/15)

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Some of you Gopher fans have seen our M.A.G.I.C. bus (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) visiting your schools, neighborhoods or communities. When you look at the bus, did you ever wonder how 12 of our 750 student-athletes receive the honor of being on the side of the bus? Here's the first of a four-part series on some of our great student-athletes who have given back and represented their program in a positive way. The first group recognized hails from football, women's basketball and men's gymnastics. Tune in next week for another edition!

Gopher Football: Peter Mortell (Green Bay, Wis./Notre Dame Academy HS)
Not only has he made his impact known on the field, but since he walked onto the University of Minnesota campus in 2010, Mortell has already volunteered for over 57 hours of community service. Attending HopeKids events, to reading to elementary children, Mortell has also visited the U of M Masonic Children's Hospital and the U of M's Youth Day Out. In addition to volunteering, Peter used his $452 Best Buy gift card that he received through the Citrus Bowl to purchase toys and every day necessities for the St. Joseph's Home for Children. For more on this story, read here. Thanks Peter for your contribution to the Gopher M.A.G.I.C. program. 

Gopher Women's Basketball: Rachel Banham (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North HS)
Rachel Banham has been giving back to her local community since the start of her freshman year in 2010. While becoming a standout in her own right, Banham has volunteered for over 94 hours as a Golden Gopher. With her decision to come back to Minnesota for her fifth year (red-shirting her senior year due to injury), Banham has helped out with the HopeKids organization, the Golden Gopher Fund Thank-a-Thon, Urban Adventures and the Women Run the Cities events. Thanks for helping out our local community Rachel. 

Men's Gymnastics: Paul Montague (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead HS)
In just his third year as a member of the Gopher men's gymnastics program, Paul Montague has already posted over 68 hours of community service. While helping raise money for cancer awareness to helping out at Feed My Starving Children, Montague has also logged additional hours on his own. During his time as a Gopher student-athlete, he's visited elementary schools and played bingo at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Thanks you for all our outstanding efforts to give to those in need Paul.

Gopher Volleyball Announces 2015 Spring Dates

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The University of Minnesota volleyball program has announced the Gophers' 2015 spring schedule, which includes three competition dates in the month of April. Times for the scrimmages will be announced closer to the days of competition.

Minnesota opens the spring season against The University of Illinois, Saturday, April 4 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The Gophers take on Kansas State  University Saturday, April 18 (Indianola, Iowa), followed by the Gophers hosting a spring tournament, Saturday, April 25 at the Sports Pavilion.

Prior to the start of spring volleyball, Minnesota will also compete in Tokyo, Japan, March 14-22. Staying in the National Training Center, the Gophers will compete against Japan's World University Games team, who are scheduled to compete at the 2015 World University Games in July.

Minnesota Volleyball Spring Schedule (Times to be announced at later date)
April 4 vs. Illinois (Waukesha, Wis.)
April 18 vs. Kansas State (Indianola, Iowa)
April 25 hosting Spring Tournament, Sports Pavilion

Erica Handley's Japanese Phrase of the Day

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As the Gopher Volleyball Team prepares for their upcoming trip to Japan (March 14-22) the team, coaches and staff are brushing up on their Japanese. This week, we have setter Erica Handley giving us her "Japanese Phrase of the Day".

Arigato Gozaimasu Erica!

Gophers Assist in Make-A-Wish Minnesota

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WCCO, Gopher Athletics, the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings combined forces to assist one deserving Vadnais Heights boy a chance to reach his ultimate dream of going to the Super Bowl, all through the efforts of Make-A-Wish Minnesota. 

As Gabe Bartlett and WCCO raced around the Twin Cities area, the Gopher hockey program
assisted the avid sports fan in his Race for Wishes challenge. Here's how Gabe and WCCO accomplished this inspiring feat. Read the full article HERE and watch his Amazing Race efforts on Wednesday, February 26, 2015.

NHL: Leddy Signs Seven-Year, $38.5 Million Deal

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Nick Leddy
Go Gophers!

The New York Islanders announced today that Nick Leddy has agreed to terms on a seven-year contract, signing through the 2021-22 season. The deal is reportedly worth $38.5 million. 

The 23-year-old defenseman has 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) with a plus-12 rating in 61 games with the Islanders this season. The Eden Prairie, MN, native leads all Islanders defensemen in goals, ranks second in points and plus-minus rating and has appeared in every Islanders game to date. 

"Nick has proven to be an elite defenseman in this league at a young age," Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. "He's the type of player on the ice, in the locker room and in the community that we're thrilled to add as a cornerstone of our defensive core."  

The Islanders acquired Leddy, along with goaltender Kent Simpson, from the Chicago Blackhawks on October 4, 2014 in exchange for defensemen TJ Brennan, Ville Pokka and goaltender Anders Nilsson.

"We have something special in this locker room and I'm excited to be a part of it for seven more years," Leddy said. "From the start of my time here, the Islanders have been a first-class organization. I'm honored by their commitment to me and look forward to challenging for the Stanley Cup for years to come."  

Selected by the Minnesota Wild in the first round (16th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Draft, Leddy has 118 career points (28 goals, 90 assists) in 319 regular season games with Chicago and the Islanders. 

Leddy won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. In 54 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, the 6'0, 194-pound defenseman has 10 points (two goals, eight assists). 

A former Mr. Hockey Award winner as the top High School player in Minnesota, the Eden Prairie High School alumnus played one season at the University of Minnesota in 2009-10, earning the team's Rookie of the Year award. 

Gophers at the #USAVTryout

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The Golden Gophers had nine individuals who competed at the 2015 USA Volleyball Open Tryouts, Feb. 20-22. The Gophers left on Friday to train and hopefully land a spot on one of the USA Collegiate National Teams. Check out their experience through USA Volleyball's photo gallery and social media buzz.

Photo Gallery

B1G Match Play as Exciting as Ever

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Competition...we prepare our team in the first month of the spring semester through a variety of drills, TrackMan combines, "Tour Van" club fitting at 2nd Swing Golf, technical swing changes and match play situations in practice. But the reality is we can never perfectly simulate the feeling of being on the first tee box in the Big Ten Match Play, one of the country's finest college golf tournaments.

I am writing this on our flight back from Hammock Beach Resort, site of the 2015 Big Ten Match Play.  I always leave this event with thoughts of how fortunate we are to represent the state of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota in such a unique college golf event. Spending three days with players we have recruited in high school and competed against in other Big Ten Championship events, along with spending time with coaches that I have the utmost respect for in our business, makes this as memorable an event as any. Four matches in two days--actually 34 hours--is a fast and furious pace, even for our well-conditioned athletes. Match play is also the most exciting form of competitive golf you can play. Matches turn so quickly, emotions seem to run higher than normal and knowing that it is you against one player is the purest form of sport. This event did not disappoint.

Go Gophers! Jon DuToit
Go Gophers!
Jon DuToit won two matches at the Big Ten Match Play.
Go Gophers!
Not only did we make our trip to Florida with the youngest team in the conference, you could also make the case that we have the most inexperienced team in Big Ten competitions. Seven Gophers, including four first-timers to the Big Ten Match Play, would contribute to our lineup that saw five players compete each round with the goal of moving on in the championship bracket.  Riley Johnson (freshman), Runar Arnorsson (freshman), Charlie Duensing (freshman), William Leaf (sophomore playing his first year for the Gophers), Jose Mendez (sophomore), Jon DuToit (junior) and Tyler Lowenstein (senior captain) would all see playing time this week.  

I don't want to get too far ahead though without adding that we may have one of the most talented teams in the conference, regardless of age, school year or experience. Lowenstein had played 66 rounds, DuToit 44 rounds and Jose Mendez hadn't missed any tournaments since arriving on campus in September of 2013. These three players also made up 60 percent of our defending Big Ten Stroke Play Championship team from only nine months previous.

In an effort to speak to the drama that unfolded, I will give you the highlights from the matches and let you navigate all the match results at
  • Beating a team, Penn State, which had one of its finest fall seasons in many years, was certainly a great way to start. Jose Mendez finished his match under par and Charlie Duensing recorded a victory in his first start for the Gophers.
  • In Match No. 2, it was a matchup vs. Iowa, who is led by my former assistant coach, Tyler Stith. William Leaf notched a quick victory in his first start as a Gopher and Jon DuToit provided another dramatic moment in our match play history by making birdie in the dark to earn a halve in his match against the 2014 Illinois State Amateur champion, Raymond Knoll.
  • In our closest match over the two days, Runar Arnorsson played great in winning his match and our All-American, Jose Mendez, closed his opponent out by amassing three birdies in his final seven holes.
  • We beat the No. 2 seed, Ohio State University. All five players played solid golf as we again finished in the dark with wins by Jose Mendez, Jon DuToit and William Leaf.
You can watch the entire replay for the first time on the Big Ten Network on March 15 at 1:30 pm CST. If you miss it the first time, it will be re-aired multiple times on BTN.

We already depart tomorrow to compete in the Puerto Rico Classic at the River Course at Rio Mar.  We will travel six players with five players competing in the team event and the other player competing in the individual competition at the Ocean Course. The six players making the trip to beautiful Puerto Rico will be: Jose Mendez, Runar Arnorsson, Jon DuToit, William Leaf, Charlie Duensing and Riley Johnson. All rounds of coverage will feature live scoring at  The first round of play starts Sunday at 6:00 am CST. Rounds 2 and 3 will be played at the same times on Monday and Tuesday. The Puerto Rico Classic is an elite collegiate event with one of the strongest fields we face all year. Participating teams are: Alabama, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Purdue, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina-Greensboro, Tulsa, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Minnesota.

Please stay tuned for all the information you will need to volunteer at the 2015 Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club, September 13-14. Volunteer opportunities will include ball spotting, walking live scorers, hole scorers, refreshments duties, parking patrol, pace of play timing and scoring tent/scoreboard operations, just to name a few. In 2014, we had a record 131 volunteers during the two-day event and because of this, college coaches and players are all talking about the Gopher Invitational becoming one of the premier stroke play events offered in NCAA Golf. I will keep you updated on a new website devoted to the Gopher Invitational in future blogs. Don't miss the chance to see 15 of the top teams (Minnesota, Kent State, Pepperdine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, St. John's (Minn.), Charlotte, East Tennessee State, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Michigan, SMU, Baylor, California) in the nation compete at one of Minnesota's finest golf courses.

Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!

John Carlson

Maxx Meets Media At NFL Combine

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Minnesota's Maxx Williams - along with David Cobb and Damien Wilson - are at the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis. Williams, who is scheduled to meet with 21 teams at the combine, was the first of the Gophers' trio to meet with the media as he was at the podium on Wednesday.

Here are a few clips from his media session.
VIDEO: Maxx at the podium (
Following in his father's footsteps (Pioneer Press)
Consensus top tight end in the draft (SB Nation)
Williams no stranger to the NFL (
Maxx living in the moment (Kansas City Star)
Packers looking at Williams? (
What about the Patriots? (