November 2011 Archives

Wednesday Roundup: Playing At Home, Facing Minnesota State

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Good To Be Home

The Gophers just completed a tough stretch of their schedule where they played seven of 10 games away from Mariucci Arena. The 10-game stretch included two road games at Alaska Anchorage, Wisconsin and Michigan State. In contrast, the Gophers played only eight games outside of Minnesota all of last season.

Minnesota went 3-3-1 in its last seven road games, but beginning this weekend with Minnesota State the Gophers will play their next seven games at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers are 6-1-0 at home this year and they are excited about playing in front of the home crowd again.

"We have been great at home this year," said senior captain Taylor Matson. "Our fans have been awesome at home this year and I think that plays a factor. With the Olympic sheet of ice, I think that will help us out the rest of the year."

The Gophers, who finished 9-10-3 at home last year, have once again made Mariucci Arena one of the hardest places in the country to play. Minnesota has outscored its opponents 35-7 at home this year and is 3-0-0 in the WCHA. The Gophers have home league shutout wins against North Dakota and St. Cloud State.

"The big thing is the league right now," said coach Don Lucia. "We've played three games at home and seven on the road and the next two weeks is our payback. It doesn't mean anything if you don't take advantage of it. This is an important four-game stretch before we head into winter break."

Playing Minnesota State

The Gophers are 29-8-6 all-time against Minnesota State, but have struggled recently against the Mavericks. Minnesota's senior class is 2-5-1 against the Mavericks and 0-2-1 at Mariucci Arena.

"That is not that great," said senior captain Taylor Matson, who has one win against Minnesota State on the road and one at Xcel Energy Center. "It is an in-state rivalry and a big game. For us, we are looking at this weekend. We are not looking at the past or the current records because they have had a lot of injuries."

Last year, the Mavericks beat Minnesota 3-2 and 2-1 in Mankato despite being outshot 85-56 on the weekend.

Go Gophers! Jake Hansen
Go Gophers!
Jake Hansen has two career goals in seven games against Minnesota State.
Go Gophers!

"We controlled most of the play both games, but could not find a way to get it into the net," said senior Jake Hansen. "The turnovers that we had ended up as goals for them. They scored on their chances and that is something that we could not do. We took a lot of shots, but we did not get into the dirty areas in front of the net.

"Their energy has been impressive. They come out and play a physical game. They want to take down Minnesota because we have traditionally been a dominant program in the league. It is also a big in-state rivalry as well. In the past they have come out and played as hard as they could."

Matson and Hansen and the rest of the senior class will try to earn their first home win against Minnesota State this weekend. Matson said the Gophers take a lot of pride in trying to be the best team in Minnesota.

"That is what you dream about as a kid," said Matson. "You grow and see Minnesota taking care of business against Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. You want to be part of that legacy and try and do the same things that they did."

Bring A Blanket, Get Free Subway On Dec. 3

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The University of Minnesota has partnered with local SUBWAY restaurants and the Bloomington-based non-profit organization Bridging to participate in the SUBWAY Bring a Blanket campaign at the men's hockey game at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3 against Minnesota State.

Now in its ninth year, the SUBWAY Bring a Blanket program is the primary way Bridging secures blankets for distribution to the nearly 5,000 local families it serves each year.  

SUBWAY representatives will be at both entrances to Mariucci Arena collecting blankets. Fans who wish to contribute are asked to bring new or gently used, clean blankets to the game. In return, the first 600 fans that bring a blanket will receive a coupon for a free, regular six-inch SUBWAY sandwich redeemable at participating locations (one free regular six-inch sandwich per person, regardless of the number of blankets donated). Coupons are not able to be redeemed in Mariucci Arena.  

Bridging gives away more than 7,000 beds annually, but are always short of blankets to accompany them. They are especially in need of blankets that fit full and queen size beds. 

Bridging's mission is to provide families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness and poverty with a one-time gift of quality furniture and household goods to stabilize and improve lives while effectively using community resources. Since 1987, Bridging has fulfilled this mission for 57,000 households. By accepting quality, gently used furniture and household goods, Bridging helps reduce landfill space by millions of pounds. To learn more visit www.bridging.org.

The SUBWAY Bring a Blanket program was developed in 2002 by local SUBWAY restaurants to address the need of families to stay warm. In the past eight years, the SUBWAY Bring A Blanket collection has secured more than 56,500 blankets which were redistributed to people in need.

Former Gopher Cade Fairchild Makes NHL Debut

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Go Gophers! Cade Fairchild
Go Gophers!
Cade Fairchild, who played for Minnesota from 2007-11, made his NHL debut last night for St. Louis.
Go Gophers!

Former Gopher Cade Fairchild made his NHL debut last night with the St. Louis Blues. Fairchild, who played for the Gophers from 2007-11, was called up from the AHL after regular Alex Pietrangelo fell ill.

Fairchild, who blocked one shot, took one shot and had one hit in 10:31 of ice time, arrived at Verizon Center in Washington D.C. about 10 minutes before pregame warmups.

"I certainly didn't expect to be playing here when I woke up," Fairchild told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch last night after the Blues' 2-1 win. "Traffic killed us on the way here, but made it in time. I felt pretty good. It almost kind of helped that everything was a whirlwind today."

Teammate Barret Jackman liked what he saw of Fairchild.

"He played great," Jackman told the paper. "He had great vision, made some good passes ... he moved his feet well for a guy that got in 10 minutes before the game."

Gopher head coach Don Lucia was able to watch the game last night as well.

"It's always a thrill because that's ultimately their goal," said Lucia. "Every kid dreams of playing in the National Hockey League and Cade put in his dues from leaving home early to go to Ann Arbor with the National Team Development Program to the four years he spent here preparing himself for this opportunity. I'm sure it was thrill for him and his family.

"I thought he played terrific last night. When your first game is against the Washington Capitals, it must have been exciting."

Fairchild had 21 goals and 72 assists in 149 career games at Minnesota. He led team defensemen and finished tied for third on the team last year with 24 points. He led the Gophers with 18 assists.

At the time of his recall, Fairchild was leading the AHL with a +16 rating.

"Cade had a great summer preparing himself to become a pro," said Lucia. "He was off to a terrific start in the American League. He had the best plus/minus in the American League before his call-up and I think that's a credit to him and how far he came and what a smart player he is. His hockey sense is one of his strengths."

Jennie-O-Wrestler of the Week: Brenton Beard

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Why did you first decide to become a wrestler? 
My dad was always a high school coach, so I wanted to wrestle as soon as possible.

Go Gophers! NAME OF PICTURE
Go Gophers!
Switch to Turkey
Go Gophers!

What made you want to come to Minnesota?                                                        
The coaching staff and great wrestling tradition.

What are you most looking forward to in college?
Getting my degree and Wrestling

Do you have any pre-match rituals?
Praying

What is playing on your ipod right now?
Michael Jackson, and The Newsboys.

What are your favorite movies?
Anything with actor Steve Carell

What are some talents or skills you have outside of wrestling? 
Can blow bubbles off my tongue.

What do you plan to major in?
Kinesiology

If you had to pick one thing to eat the rest of your life what would it be? 
Chicken Enchiladas

What are some of your goals for your first season as a Golden Gopher?
To improve as much as I can.

Favorite Sports Team? New York Yankees

Favorite food? Chicken Enchiladas

Favorite T.V. Show? The Office

Favorite vacation destination? Australia

Favorite Cereal? Frosted Flakes

Daily Clips: Nov. 30

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Morning Skate with Seth Helgeson (GopherSports.com)

Weekend Preview: Minnesota State (GopherSports.com)

Alternate channel listing for Friday's game (FoxSportsNorth.com)

Wally Shaver previews Minnesota State and looks back at Michigan State (YouTube)

Gophers looking to get back in the win column (GopherPuckLive)

Cade Fairchild makes NHL debut (STLToday.com)

Morning Skate With Seth Helgeson

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Go Gophers! Seth Helgeson
Go Gophers!
Seth Helgeson has five points and 28 penalty minutes this year.
Go Gophers!
Junior Seth Helgeson is the most tenured player on the Gopher blueline this season. The stay-at-home defenseman has five points this year and 28 penalty minutes. We spent some time with the Faribault, Minn., native and talked about his role on the team, his (partly visible) mustache and what he likes to do away from the rink.

GopherSports.com: You are the most veteran defensemen on the team this year. How is this year different for you compared to previous years?

Seth Helgeson: Things are certainly different with coach Guentzel, but I have tried this year to take on more of a leadership role on the blueline. If I need to say something to the rest of the defensemen, I will. I have also been trying to lead by example more this year. I have only been here for two years, but that is more than anybody else. This year has been a little bit different, but so far I think we have been doing pretty well.

GS: You mentioned coach Guentzel. What does he bring to the team?

SH: He brings an intense attitude and gets guys to play hard. He holds players accountable and harps on the simple things that maybe we did not always do last year. It seems like we are blocking more shots this year and are getting more sticks in shooting and passing lanes trying to disrupt pucks. We are also playing more physical and battling in front of the net. On the offensive side, we are jumping into the play and using our feet to our advantage to make a good hockey play.

GS: You brought up playing physical and that is something you are known for. What would you say is your role on the team?

SH: I like to play an aggressive, physical style of play and I will stick up for my teammates when I need to. It is a role I have played since my freshman year and have stuck with it. I think that is something that needs to be done. Everyone on our team has a role and mine is playing physical.

GS: You have delivered some big hits in your career. Do you hear the crowd reaction when you hit somebody?

SH: It obviously gets the crowd into it, but I am kind of in the moment and do not really hear anything. I think a big hit can do two things. It can send a message to the other team and it can get the guys on our team into the game a little bit more and get some of the momentum on our side.

GS: You have spent a fair amount of time in the penalty box during your career. Do you have a good penalty box story you can share with us?

SH: We played Alaska Anchorage my freshman year at home and each team had five guys in the penalty box. However, I was not one of them. We were playing three-on-three hockey and I was out on the ice, which would usually never happen. An Anchorage player crosschecked Mike Carman off the draw and then skated the full length of the ice to hit Carman again even though he did not have the puck. I went after him and then we both went to the penalty box, so there were six players on each team in there. We exchanged some words from the box. It was pretty tight in there and I was standing the whole time.

GS:  You have scored four goals in 83 career games, but have two goals in your last five games. What do you attribute your recent offensive outburst to?

SH: I think it has to be the power of the mustache that a lot of the guys on the team grew for Movember. It has given me a little confidence. It has been going well for me recently. I think I have been in the right place at the right time.

GS: Are you keeping the mustache?

SH: I don't know. We will have to see.

GS: What do you like to do off the ice?

SH: We do not have a lot of free time during the season. But in the summer or when I do go home, I like to fish in the river. We have a boat, so that makes it nice. Jake Parenteau and I did some fishing in August back home and caught between 20 and 30 smallmouth bass. I also like to golf a lot and hang out with my friends.

GS: How busy are you during the season? Take us through a typical day.

SH: We have morning workouts, which are either at 6:30 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. I will go to one of those and then go home and eat breakfast and head to class. After that I will go home and eat lunch quickly and then head to Mariucci Arena for practice. We practice for around two hours and then have a meal after practice. I am getting home from the rink after 5 p.m. and have to study and do homework. You also have to get to bed at a decent time because you cannot be tired for practice.

GS: What is the best thing about being a Gopher hockey player?

SH: For me, it is nice to be able to play in front of your family. My parents can come to every home game and can make it to a lot of road games as well. If they cannot make it then they can watch on TV. My aunt and uncle and grandmother watch a lot of our games on television as well. To me, it is important that my family is able to watch me play.

Video: Barnstorming with Grimm

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"Barnstorming with Grimm" is a new weekly video feature to help people get to know Williams Arena better. In these features, radio play-by-play man Mike Grimm offers a glimpse behind the scenes at "The Barn," and an update of what's going on with the team.

This week, Grimm takes a look at the Williams Arena Club Room. Located on the third level of the Barn, the Club Room is a place where donors can socialize and get something to eat, before or during the game.

Last week's video about the Barnlofts appeared only on Facebook and Twitter, but it is also posted below. From now on, each episode will be posted in a blog entry as well as on our social media pages.

Get to Know Sari Noga

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GopherSports.com recently sat down with sophomore guard Sari Noga to learn a little bit more about what her major is, her favorite part about being a Gopher and what she likes best about Gopher fans. 

What is your major here at the U?
"As of right now, I'm planning on majoring in mortuary science, which is also known as the funeral business. Since I am a mortuary science major, the little pun line is that I will never be out of business."
 
What is your favorite part about being on the women's basketball team?
"My favorite part is just hanging out with my teammates, traveling and just kind of becoming a family all together."
 

What are you most excited for this season?
"What I'm most excited about this season is just getting out there. Just finally getting out there and putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together and playing some Gopher basketball."
 

What is the best thing about Gopher fans?
"The best thing about the fans is just how into the game they are. They are trying to get us going on a rally or even coming down in the final seconds of the shot clock, just helping get us pumped up and keep us going throughout the game."
 

Daily Clips - Nov. 29

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U.S. World Junior Spotlight: Nick Bjugstad (United States of Hockey)

Roman listened to Don Lucia's radio show last night and has a summary (Star Tribune)

Gophers in the Pros - Week 12

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Broncos' wide receiver Eric Decker scored his eighth touchdown of the season Sunday. The former Gopher, who did not record a catch for the first time all season last week, responded with a solid performance against the San Diego Chargers.

Decker found the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Tim Tebow with one minute remaining in the second quarter to bring the Broncos within three at the half.

Go Gophers! Eric Decker
Go Gophers!
Decker caught his eighth TD of the season Sunday.
Go Gophers!

Tebow connected with Decker again for a 39-yard reception late in the fourth quarter. The catch came on third and long and led to the game-tying field goal.

"That was a crazy play," Tebow said of Decker's catch to the Denver Post. "He made a great play, just like he does every game."

The Broncos went on to beat the Chargers in overtime 16-13. It was the team's fourth straight victory.

Decker finished with three catches for 65 yards along with 50 yards in kickoff returns. He led the Broncos in receiving yards and has now scored a touchdown in three of his last four games.

Here's a look at the performance of other Gophers in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League:

  • Chicago Bears' running back Marion Barber recorded 10 carries for a season-high 63 yards. The Bears' fell to the Oakland Raiders 25-20.
  • Matt Spaeth, tight end with the Bears, recorded one reception for nine yards in Chicago's loss.
  • Vikings' cornerback and return specialist Marcus Sherels recorded three solo tackles in Minnesota's 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Sherels was moved into the nickel back position due to an injury-plagued secondary.
  • Safety Dominique Barber is on the Houston Texans' injured reserve list with a knee injury. The Texans beat the Jaguars 20-13.
  • Logan Payne, wide receiver for the New York Jets, is also on injured reserve while he recovers from wrist surgery. The Jets beat the Bills 28-24 in a close one.
  • Adam Weber, last year's quarterback for the Gophers, is expected to be signed off the Broncos' practice squad to take the roster slot of Kyle Orton who was waived by the team last week.
  • In addition to those who were on active rosters, two former Gopher players spent week 12 of the NFL season on the practice squad for their respective teams. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford is with the Cleveland Browns and cornerback Traye Simmons practices with the San Diego Chargers.

  • In the CFL, wide receiver Arland Bruce recorded five catches for 73 yards and one touchdown in the BC Lions' win on Sunday. The victory over Winnepeg earned them the Grey Cup title.

Observations from Minnesota's 4-4 tie with Michigan State

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Mariucci-Bessone Notes
The Minnesota-Michigan State rivalry, which pitted former WCHA and future Big Ten Conference foes against each other, saw the two schools play a two-game series for the first time since Feb. 7 and 8, 1981. Coming in as the No. 3 team in the country playing against the nation's 20th-ranked team, the Gophers' loss and tie gave the higher-ranked team an 0-3-3 record in the last six meetings between the schools. The draw did help UM avoid being swept against the Spartans for the first time since Feb. 6 and 7, 1976 and also helped them steer clear of being swept by a non-conference opponent for the first time since Oct.16 and 17, 1999. The Gophers and Spartans will meet again in non-conference play next year before they both join the Big Ten in 2013-14. After beating Minnesota 5-2 last year, MSU maintained the actual Mariucci-Bessone hardware with a three-point weekend.

The Last Stanza
Michigan State beat the Gophers 2-1 in the third period on Friday and won the game 4-3, handing the Gophers their first loss of the season in which they entered the third period tied or in the lead. Prior to this weekend, Minnesota had outscored its opponents 24-4 in the final frame. On Saturday, the Gophers flipped the third-period score and outscored MSU 2-1 in the final frame to force a tie, which kept UM unbeaten in Saturday games with a 6-0-1 record.

Bonus Hockey
Minnesota had almost no luck in overtime last year, finishing with a 1-1-6 record last season, but have won (at Minnesota-Duluth) and tied their two OT games in 2011-12. Saturday's game marked the sixth game in the last 12 meetings between Minnesota and MSU that went past regulation. All of those games ended in ties.

Lineup Changes
After going over a month (nine games) with the same 12 forwards in the lineup, Minnesota took out freshmen Sam Warning and Seth Ambroz and inserted fellow rookie Christian Isackson and senior Nico Sacchetti. Sacchetti made himself stand out by making several great defensive plays including multiple blocked shots and a great diving effort to break up a first-period two-on-one chance for MSU and Isackson drew a penalty with 31.7 seconds left in regulation. Though both of them have played well so far this year, neither player has a point in seven combined games played.

Bjugstad on the Board
His four-game goal-scoring streak came to a close on Saturday, but Nick Bjugstad did record two assists on Saturday to move his point streak to five games. The towering center posted an assist on Erik Haula's power-play tally in the second period and picked up another helper on Kyle Rau's go-head goal in the third. He now has a nation-leading 25 points (15g-10a) on the year and is tied for the national lead in goals with 15. Bjugstad has scored 20 goals in his last 22 games overall dating back to 2010-11.

Home Sweet Home
Saturday night's game ended a month-long stretch in which seven of the Gophers' 10 games were away from Mariucci Arena. Minnesota will not play on the road again until Jan 13 and 14 at North Dakota after a seven-game homestand. After that, UM will only make road trips for series against Nebraska-Omaha and Denver and will play a home-and-home with St. Cloud.

Blog: Gray Sets Record, Helps Seniors Go Out in Style

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The Golden Gopher football team ended its season with a bang, beating Illinois by a score of 27-7. Minnesota's 24 seniors ended their careers on a win. They did it with some help from junior quarterback MarQueis Gray, who broke the school's single-season record for quarterback rushing yards.

Gray's 866-yard rushing total for 2011 surpasses the 831-yard mark set by Billy Cockerham in 1999. With 167 yards in today's contest, Gray also became the first Gopher with four 100-yard rushing performances in a season since Amir Pinnix in 2006. Gray found the end zone on two of his three carries, and also added a passing touchdown to John Rabe.

Go Gophers! Gray vs. Illinois
Go Gophers!
Gray rushed for 167 yards to lead Minnesota.
Go Gophers!

Although the junior quarterback stole the show, the senior class provided some big plays, too. Kicker Jordan Wettstein made two field goals, including a 51-yard attempt. That was the first 50-yard field goal by a Minnesota kicker since Joel Monroe in 2007.

Senior safety Kim Royston led the team's stellar defensive effort with 13 tackles, including eight solo tackles. It was his eighth double-digit tackle game of the year. He sacked quarterback Nate Scheelhaase in the red zone to end Illinois's final drive of the game.

"I am just very blessed my last play ended with a sack and not a broken leg," said the sixth-year senior who missed 2010 with an injury.

Senior linebacker Gary Tinsley also recorded one of the team's five sacks. Another senior, Kyle Henderson made nine tackles.

Fittingly, fifth-year senior Duane Bennett ran the final play of the game. Bennett has been part of the Gopher football program since 2007.

"I couldn't be happier for the senior group that's walking out of here," head coach Jerry Kill said. "They've been through so many things through their years here at the University of Minnesota. They've been great hanging in there through this year and just working to get better. I'm so happy for them, and they've set the tone for us going forward."

Observations from Minnesota's 4-3 loss to Michigan State

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Final Frame
Entering Friday, the Gophers had outscored their opponents 24-4 in the third period, but Michigan State scored twice on its first three shots of the period to take a 4-2 lead. MSU, who became the third team to score on UM in the third period (Minnesota-Duluth and Vermont are the other two), also handed Minnesota its first loss of the season in three games where the Gophers entered the third period with the game tied.

Rankings Aren't Everything
In the last five meetings between Minnesota and Michigan State, the higher-ranked team is 0-3-2 after No. 20 MSU topped third-ranked UM on Friday. The last time the higher-ranked team won in the battle for the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy was on Nov. 24, 2006 when the top-ranked Gophers beat No. 6 Michigan State 5-4 at Mariucci Arena.

A Rare Goal Against
Kevin Walrod's goal with one second left on a third-period Gopher power-play on Friday was the first shorthanded goal Minnesota allowed since Alaska Anchorage's Alex Gellert scored a man-down goal in the second period of a 4-3 WCHA Playoff win on March 11. The Gophers went through 78 power plays and scored 20 goals on the man advantage between shorthanded goals allowed.

It was the first regular-season shorthanded goal the Gophers allowed since Oct. 22, 2010 when St. Cloud's Garrett Roe did it in a 5-2 Husky win at Mariucci Arena. The last time Minnesota allowed a shorthanded goal on the road was on March 12, 2010 in a 6-0 WCHA playoff loss at North Dakota and the last time UM won after conceding a shorthanded goal was on Jan. 5, 2008 in a 5-2 home victory over Wayne State.

Better Late
The Gophers lost a game that started before 7:00 p.m. Central Time for the second time in three tries on Friday. Minnesota dropped a 5-4 Sunday home decision to Vermont that started at 1 p.m. after beating the Catamounts 6-0 two days prior in a 6:00 p.m. start. UM will play Michigan State at the same time tomorrow and is slated to faceoff in the second game of the Mariucci Classic on Dec. 31 against either Princeton or Northeastern at 6 p.m. The Gophers will also host Colorado College at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Looking for Another Split
For a third straight weekend, the Gophers will look to avoid being swept after a Friday loss. The Gophers are 6-0-0 in Saturday games and haven't been swept in the regular season since losing to Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn. on Dec. 3 and 4, 2010. Minnesota hasn't been swept by a non-conference team since losing back-to-back games at Maine on Oct. 16 and 17, 1999. That series was Don Lucia's first behind the Gopher bench.

Though the Spartans will get two of their top players back from one-game disqualifications in Torey Krug and Greg Wolfe on Saturday, the Gophers have had a historical edge after dropping the first game to MSU in East Lansing, Mich. Minnesota is 8-5-0 in the second game of road series at MSU after losing the first game.

Can't Stop Bjugstad
Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad continued his torrid scoring pace by notching his two goals on on Friday. Bjugstad has at least a goal in each of his team's last four contests (seven overall in that span) including his first career hat trick against St. Cloud last Saturday. The Blaine, Minn.-native now has 15 goals in 15 games this year and is tied for the national lead in goal scoring with Colgate's Austin Smith, who also has 15.

Serratore is a Hit
The Gophers got off to a slow start on Friday and fell behind 2-0, but through the first ten minutes of the game, sophomore center Tom Serratore was one of the best players on the ice and was Minnesota's best player overall, making one big hit after another. Serratore's energetic play proved to spark the team and Gophers promptly scored two goals to tie the score before the end of the first. Serratore continued to stand out by making more MSU defenders pay with crushing checks in the final two periods.

Daily Clips - Nov. 25

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Gophers have excelled in the third period (Star Tribune)

Nick Bjugstad has been finding the net (Pioneer Press)

A trophy is on the line this weekend (FSN)

Thanksgiving in East Lansing (SBNation)

Minnesota and Michigan State will see each other a lot more real soon (MSUSpartans.com)

Daily Clips - Nov. 24

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Michigan State beat writer tells us all about the Spartans (GopherSports.com)

Gophers embrace Movember (GopherSports.com)

What are the Gophers doing for Thanksgiving dinner? (GopherSports.com)

Michigan State game notes (MSUSpartans.com)

Nick Bjugstad put last Friday behind him and bounced back on Saturday (Star Tribune)

Nick Bjugstad, who is one of the top scorers in the nation, is producing on the PP (USCHO)

Tony Lucia is back to playing hockey (Telegram & Gazette)

View From Michigan State

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Go Gophers! Neil Koepke
Go Gophers!
Neil Koepke is in his 26th year covering Michigan State hockey.
Go Gophers!
The Gophers head to Michigan State this weekend for a pair of games against the Spartans. We talked to Neil Koepke to get his take on all things Michigan State. Koepke, who writes for msuspartans.com, is in his 26th year covering Michigan State hockey. He spent the previous 25 years covering the Spartans for the Lansing State Journal. You can read all of Koepke's stories here.

GopherSports.com: Neil, what is your take on the Spartans this year?
Neil Koepke: With a new coach, a different style of play and coming off a 10th-place finish in the CCHA, Michigan State is one of the league's surprise teams. After 12 games, the Spartans are 7-5 overall, 4-4 in the CCHA and 3-3 on the road against three teams which have been ranked in the top 20. MSU has played only four home games and just two in league play.

Coach Tom Anastos, a 1985 MSU graduate and the former CCHA commissioner, has the Spartans playing an aggressive, puck pursuit system and with a different mindset. They've improved their compete level, work ethic and even upgraded their skill level.

The Spartans still aren't what you would call a skilled team, but they love putting pressure on their opponents, forcing turnover and turning them into scoring chances and goals. For the last few seasons, MSU stressed defense and was more concerned about defending than attacking. That made scoring difficult.

This season, with almost the same team, the Spartans have scored 39 goals in 12 games, and ranked fourth in the CCHA, averaging 3.25 goals per game. The roster includes 15 seniors and juniors, and usually only three freshmen are in lineup.

The team's top scoring line has sophomore Lee Reimer (6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points ) at center with senior Mike Merrifield (7-3-10 ) on left wing and sophomore Greg Wolfe (4-8-12) on the right. Reimer is tied for second in CCHA overall scoring. Last season, Reimer had two goals and seven points, Wolfe had three goals and 11 points, while Merrifield scored four times and finished with eight points.

Senior forward Brett Perlini is MSU's top returning scorer. He had 18 goals and 30 points as a junior and this year has three goals and 10 points.

The Spartans most talented player is junior Torey Krug, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound puck-moving defenseman and the team's second-year captain.  As a sophomore, Krug had 11 goals and 28 points, was a first-team All-CCHA selection and the league's top offensive defenseman.  After 12 games this year, he has four goals and nine points.

One of MSU's strengths is in goal with senior Drew Palmisano and sophomore Will Yanakeff. Palmisano is 2-3 and Yanakeff, who has started the last four games, is 5-2.

The Spartans will face the Gophers on Friday with two key players missing - Krug and Wolfe. Both were assessed game disqualifications penalties for facemasking and fighting, respectively, during a game-ending skirmish at Northern Michigan last Saturday. Both will return on Saturday.

GS: Who is one player that Gopher fans should pay extra attention to?
NK: Junior defenseman Torey Krug is a potential NCAA West All-America. He's a high-energy player, runs the power play, has a great shot from the point and logs lots of ice time. However, Gophers fans won't see him Friday because of a game DQ handed out last Saturday. He'll be back on Saturday and will be eager to face the Gophers in what could be the last time he faces Minnesota. Krug is a free agent and is expected to have 10-15 offers from NHL teams after the season, so there's a good chance this is his last year in the program.

GS: Finish this sentence for us. Michigan State will win if ...
NK: Goaltenders Will Yanakeff and Drew Palmisano play at a very high level and deliver several spectacular saves, and the forwards and defense limit odd-man rushes. The Spartans will still try to play a skating game and be creative in the offensive zone, but there will be times when the focus will be trying to be a difficult team to play against. MSU did a good job of keeping up with Boston College in the season opener in the Icebreaker Tournament in Grand Forks, N.D., but the Eagles' speed and skill forced a few Spartan mistakes in the third period and BC broke a 2-2 tie and pulled away for a 5-2 victory.


Thanksgiving Dinner

The Gophers travel to East Lansing, Mich., on Thanksgiving day and play Michigan State on Friday and Saturday. Upon arrival in Michigan the team will head to Munn Arena to drop off the gear and then to the hotel for a Thanksgiving dinner.

If you cannot be with your family on Thanksgiving, being with your team is the next best thing.

"You always want to be home for Thanksgiving with your parents," said senior captain Taylor Matson. "But being on the road with the guys and having a Thanksgiving dinner Thursday night on the road builds a lot of camaraderie between the guys. There's nothing like being on the road, I'll tell you that."

Minnesota typically only travels with 22 players, but this weekend the entire team will be going to Michigan.

"It'll be good to have everybody together," said coach Don Lucia.

Third-Period Surge

The Gophers have outscored opponents 24-4 in the third period this year. Minnesota has scored in 13 of 14 of the third periods it has played this season, with the lone exception being a 6-0 win against Vermont on Oct. 21.

In contrast, only Minnesota Duluth and Vermont have scored in the third period against the Gophers this season. Minnesota Duluth scored one third-period goal on Oct. 14 and two on Oct. 15, while Vermont scored once on Oct. 23.

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad has four third-period goals and he says the team has adopted a never-let-up mentality.

"We are working pretty hard in practice and conditioning wise it has been a tougher year than I have ever had before," said Bjugstad. "We do not want to let up. You want to take it to each team every night and do your best. We want to score as many goals as we can and get every guy playing as well as he can."

Senior goaltender Kent Patterson has a school record six shutouts this season. Patterson has been stellar all year, but his defense has been playing great in front of him, especially late in the game. In his six shutouts he has seen a combined 31 shots in the third period. The most he saw were nine third-period shots in a 5-0 win against St. Cloud State on Nov. 19. The fewest he saw were two third-period shots in a 5-0 win at Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 28.

"It helps significantly when we are outplaying teams in the third period," said Patterson. "I think our conditioning and all the hard work we have put in is paying off."

Lucia echoed the claims of Bjugstad and Patterson that the team's conditioning has paid off. But he also added that he is comfortable rolling all four lines and playing all six defensemen late in the game.

"We've worked hard on our conditioning this year and probably have done as much or more skating than we ever have," said Lucia. "We've played four lines and we've played six defensemen. We really haven't shortened the bench very much.

"We haven't relied on just four defensemen to play the majority of the game. Most nights our third and fourth lines have outplayed our opposition's third and fourth lines and have scored some big goals because of that."

What A Difference A Year Makes

Through 14 games last year Nate Schmidt had played in five games and did not record a single point. Nick Bjugstad missed five of the first 14 games a season ago with mononucleosis. In the nine games he did play he recorded one goal and two assists.

This year, Bjugstad is tied for first in the nation with 21 points (13g-8a) though 14 games, while Schmidt is the second-highest scoring defensemen in the nation with 16 points (1g-15a). Bjugstad is tied for second in the nation in goals and Schmidt is second in assists.

"I think my confidence level last year was not where it should have been," said Schmidt. "That was the biggest thing for me. Now I have the confidence to go out there and make plays and I know I can rely on my teammates. I can play hockey the way I know how to play. I felt like I could make those plays last year, but it was having the confidence of going out there and doing it."

For Bjugstad, who grew up a Gopher fan, it took some time to adjust to the college game.  Part of that was learning how to deal with his nerves.

"The year I had last year wasn't the greatest," said Bjugstad, who did end his freshman season with 16 points in his final 16 games. "I watched the Gophers all my life and it was pretty surreal being in a Gopher jersey the first half of the year. I guess I figured it out a little bit. It's a little different game than high school, so that's what made me nervous."

The duo has turned into point producers on the power play as well. Schmidt leads the team with 13 power-play points (1g-12a), while Bjugstad is third on the team with nine power-play points (5g-4a). Schmidt has picked up an assist on all five of Bjugstad's power-play goals this year.

Bennett Joins 2K Club

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Running back Duane Bennett joined elite company Saturday as he became just the 13th Golden Gopher to rush for 2,000 yards in his career. His 2,069 total rushing yards ranks him 13th on the school's all-time rushing charts.

"It's huge to be included in that group. We have a great running back tradition here at the University of Minnesota. Just to be included in that group means a lot to me and my family," Bennett said. "It means a lot to this team just to see how we've progressed over the last couple years. It shows that the tradition hasn't graduated. Tradition hasn't left the program. To have that under my belt is a great accomplishment."

The game at Northwestern also marked Bennett's fifth career 100-yard rushing game and his second of the season. He finished with a season-high 127 yards against the Wildcats.

Bennett credits his success to the coaching staff and his teammates.

"It's a great accomplishment, but that something's that not done alone. It's something that the O-line has helped me with, something that the offense has helped me with, something that the coaching staff has helped me with," Bennett said. "It means a lot as an individual, but I still look at it as a team success."

After an encouraging freshman and earning Freshman All-Big Ten honors, Bennett suffered a knee injury in the second game of the 2008 season and was redshirted. He returned the following year as the Gophers' leading rusher, compiling 376 yards on 98 carries and six touchdowns. In 2010 he led the Gophers with 996 all-purpose yards. He finished the season with 529 rushing yards on 123 carries including three touchdowns.

As the season is coming to a close, so is Bennett's career at the University of Minnesota. He hopes not only to go out to strong on the field but to leave a lasting impression on the younger players.

"I'm trying to leave a good message for the other backs, trying to be a mentor," Bennett said. "I'm done after this year, so somebody has to take the torch. Somebody has to take over this position. It's something that I hope to instill in the younger guys."

Head coach Jerry Kill wants to coach more players like Bennett. He admires his ability to fight back through adversity. Despite fumbling the ball on the opening drive of the second half against Northwestern, Bennett was able to put the play aside and come back in more focused.

"That kid showed a tremendous amount of character. We need more kids like that" Kill said. "Duane taught us all something today. He messed up, got back in, and played as hard as could play. That's what growing up is all about. That's what life is going to be all about. He's going to have that as a life lesson."

With one game remaining, Bennett needs 81 yards to move up to 12th all-time. If he rushes for over 100 yards again he could secure the number 11 spot. The Gophers play their final game of the season against Illinois on Saturday.

Game Time with Grimm: Minnesota-Illinois Preview

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The Gopher Radio Network's Mike Grimm gives fans five things to watch (and listen) for during Saturday's season finale against Illinois at TCF Bank Stadium:

1. REPEAT HISTORY: This Gopher team repeated history once already this season with a win over Iowa for a second consecutive season. Players felt the fact they had won the previous year helped them believe they could win. Well, Minnesota beat Illinois last year, too, so they must harness those same positive vibes for this Saturday!

2. KICKING GAME: The good news for Minnesota's special teams this year is they have two kickoff returns for touchdowns, a blocked punt for a TD, and a key onside kick conversion. The bad news is they have lost the field position battle because of some poor punting and kick coverage in recent weeks. The Gophers will have to shore up those holes if they want to beat the Orange and Blue.

3. FAST START: There is no doubt the Golden Gophers play better in games in which they get off to a fast start and have things good happen to them. If they get a quick start on in their own stadium, they have a great shot at closing out the season with a victory.

4. WILLPOWER: Both the Golden Gophers and Fighting Illini have struggled this season, especially Illinois after its promising start. Each team has a fragile mindset, so whichever club comes out and seizes control of the game will likely be the victor.

5. RAY-DIO: This will be our final broadcast of the year from our home radio booth named for legendary Gopher radio announcer Ray Christianson. One of the bigger thrills for me as a member of the Gopher Radio Network has been getting to know the Hall of Fame announcer. A true gentleman and professional, Ray is still polite, well-spoken, and a wealth of knowledge. Every time we walk into the Ray Christianson Radio Booth, we know the standard has been set high by its namesake.

Video: Catching Up With Jeff Hagen

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After graduating from Hopkins High School, Jeff Hagen walked on to the Gopher basketball team in fall of 2000. He originally planned to redshirt his freshman year, but ended up playing in 26 of Minnesota's 32 games. Rick Rickert and Jerry Holman joined the team the following year, allowing Hagen to take a redshirt as a sophomore.

Go Gophers! Jeff Hagen
Go Gophers!
Hagen was named All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2005.
Go Gophers!

Hard work put in during his redshirt year and beyond paid off for Hagen. He averaged just over four points per game in both the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, and then jumped into the starting lineup as a senior on the Gophers' NCAA Tournament-bound team. Starting in 30 of 32 games he played in the 2004-05 season, Hagen averaged 11.2 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention acclaim for his efforts.

When his time with the Gophers was done, Hagen played for a few years in the NBDL before being sidelined by injury. He came back to his alma mater in October for All-Star Friday Night, where Gophersports.com caught up with him to find out what he is doing now.

Daily Clips - Nov. 23

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Weekend Preview: Michigan State (GopherSports.com)

Wally Shaver looks back at St. Cloud State and previews Michigan State (YouTube)

Bjugstad Named Player Of The Week (GopherSports.com)

The Mariucci-Bessone Trophy is on the line this week (Star Tribune) when Minnesota travels to Michigan State (Minnesota Daily)

The College Hockey Showcase is gone, so Gophers and Spartans will play twice (GopherPuckLive)

John Mayasich is No. 1 (MNHockeyHub.com)

Cade Fairchild got called up by the Blues (Peoria Journal Star)

Can Phil Kessel score 63 goals (Toronto Star)

Ryan Potulny is close to playing again (Patriot News)

Jennie-O-Wrestler of the Week: Sonny Yohn

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Each week of the season Gophersports.com will feature a Jennie-O-Wrestler of the week. This week's wrestler is senior Sonny Yohn from Alamosa, Colo.

Why did you choose the sport of wrestling?
My dad and uncles wrestled so I guess it was destined.

Go Gophers! NAME OF PICTURE
Go Gophers!
Switch to Turkey
Go Gophers!

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving from high school wrestling to college wrestling?  Realizing I had to put in a lot more work to get back to the top of the next level.

What is the feeling like after a big takedown or scoring a pin?
 Awesome! Haha I don't know how to explain it.

What team or individual performance are you most proud of? 
Watching Big Ben (Ben Berhow) win against Wisconsin last year. He deserved that match and made the absolute most out of it.

Where is your favorite place to eat on campus? 
Not sure if its considered on campus, but Manning's on Como Ave. 

What is your favorite Minnesota tradition? 
I wouldn't call it a tradition, but the continued fan support and the amount of fans is something Minnesota Wrestling has over other programs.

What is the best part of being a member of the Minnesota wrestling team? Getting the respect we deserve.

Why did you choose Minnesota? 
Because it's the best, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Who on the team is the team prankster? 
 Kevin Steinhouse

What have you learned from wrestling that has helped you in other aspects of your life? 
Basically everything of value has been molded through wrestling. Hard work, respect, perseverance, the list goes on forever.

What is your favorite sports movie? 
The Sandlot

What are you listening to on your iPod right now? 
Fleetwood mac

Do you have any pre-match superstitions? 
Nope

What are your goals for this season? 
Dominate everyone and to be able to look back on this season having no Regrets.

What is your favorite sport outside of wrestling? 
Baseball

What has been the best memory in your Gopher wrestling career? 
It's in progress. Ask me again on March 18th

If you had the choice to travel either forward or backward in time, which would you choose? Why? 
Neither, I prefer to live in the moment and have no regrets to return to the past. I would rather look back on it all with a smile. As for the future not knowing what is in store for me is part of the fun.

Where do you like wrestling at more the Pavilion of Williams Arena? 
A packed Williams Arena is hard to beat.

What is your favorite TV show? 
Gold Rush Alaska

What is your favorite food?
I don't discriminate against food. Whatever is on my plate at that time.



Alumni Corner: Adam Hauser

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Go Gophers! Adam Hauser
Go Gophers!
Adam Hauser backstopped the Gophers to the 2002 NCAA championship.
Go Gophers!
It was just under a decade ago that Bovey, Minn., native Adam Hauser ended his college hockey career with a bang, helping lead Minnesota to its first NCAA Hockey Championship since 1979 as a senior in 2002. Hauser went on to spend time playing in the ECHL and the AHL before reaching the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings in 2005-06. As a member of the AHL's Manchester Monarchs, he became one of three goalies in league history to post consecutive seasons with a sub-2.00 goals against average. He also broke the franchise single-season shutout record with seven in 2003-04. Hauser recently took some time to catch up with us and reflect on his years as a Gopher.

GopherSports.com: What was your time like being in the spotlight, playing goalie for Minnesota?
Adam Hauser: I'm from a small town in northern Minnesota (Bovey) and coming to the big city was a big change. Growing up watching the Gophers was one thing, but then getting to play was another. Being a part of Minnesota's "Pride on Ice" was a big honor for me and I am thankful for my time there.

GS: What kind of emotions were you feeling when Matt Koalska sent the 2002 National Championship into overtime?
AH: I just smiled and went back out on the ice for the next face-off. I had felt such a range of emotions throughout that game and my four years. It seemed fitting that we weren't done yet.

GS: How did it feel to win the school's first championship in over 20 years? Could you have imagined a better way to end your collegiate career?
AH: There's no way I could have imagined it all happening the way it did. I distinctively remember stepping on the ice for that game thinking to myself, "Win or lose, this is my last game as a Gopher." A flood of emotion, mostly relief, and memories of all that had happened in four years flashed through me. It calmed me, but also energized me one last time. I enjoyed the true spirit of competition that night, and will forever look back on that night knowing I enjoyed every moment of that game.

GS: Legend has it you walked off the ice after winning the national championship, looked at the assembled media and said, "How do you like me now?" Is that a myth or did it really happen?
AH: The short answer is yes, that did happen. It was a comment with a specific direction; it was received by the correct person(s) and resolved. I remember the conversation leading to the resolution more than I remember my specific comment. I appreciate everybody and everything that helped me get to that point, and it felt good to resolve that and move forward. I learned a lot from that story.

GS: Where was your favorite place to eat on campus at the University of Minnesota?
AH: Campus Pizza.

GS: You played professional hockey after your time at the U. What is your favorite hockey memory outside of college?
AH: At the Staples Center in Los Angeles, being able to play for the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL when not so many people thought I could. That seemed to be a common theme in my career.

GS: Who was the best player you ever played with or against?
AH: There have been so many players I've played with and against, it's too hard to narrow it down. But I can say, I will always hold close in my memory Luc Robataille's unique apology for a head-shot. More players could learn about life from a guy like Luc Robataille. Isn't it just like a goalie to complain about head-shots, even after he's retired?

GS: You spent some time on the ice last year with the Gopher goalies, including this year's starter Kent Patterson. What can you tell us about him and did you think he would be as successful as he has been so far?
AH: I really liked the things I saw from him last year. His success this year is well deserved. He's put in a lot of time and effort to do the things he does, and I applaud the things he's learned. He knows things about the position that I didn't learn until after I left the University. He has a definite chance of going places.

GS: What are you up to today?
AH: I am a financial representative with Country Financial in Plymouth. This is my first season away from playing and I am spending most of my time transitioning into the business world from hockey.

GS: To what extent do you follow Gopher hockey now? Do you still keep in touch with your Gopher teammates?
AH: I purchased season tickets, watch every game, and am finding ways to get back in touch with everyone now that I'm back in town year-round. I usually see most guys once a year, but I'm looking to continue growing that frequency as the years go by. Again, it was a special time I was a part of and I will always be thankful.

Bjugstad Named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week

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Go Gophers! Nick Bjugstad
Go Gophers!
Nick Bjugstad was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.
Go Gophers!
VIDEO: Bjugstad's Hat Trick Goals From Saturday: First Goal, Second Goal, Third Goal

AUDIO: Bjugstad Talks About Hat Trick l Q&A With Bjugstad

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad was named the Red Baron® WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for Nov. 22. This is the first time that Bjugstad has been honored by the WCHA this year. He was recognized twice last season as the WCHA Rookie of the Week.

Bjugstad had a hand in five of the eight goals that Minnesota scored in a home-and-home split with St. Cloud State this past weekend. On Friday, he scored Minnesota's first goal to tie the game 1-1 and then assisted on Kyle Rau's goal that pulled the Gophers to within 4-3 late in the third period.

On Saturday, he notched the first hat trick of his career, as he scored on all three of his shots in a 5-0 home win. Bjugstad scored Minnesota's first (game-winning goal), third and fifth goals of the game. It was the Gophers first hat trick since Jay Barriball scored three times in a win against Massachusetts on Oct. 9, 2010.

Bjugstad is tied for first in the nation with 21 points and is second in the nation with 13 goals.

The Blaine, Minn., native joins linemate Kyle Rau and goaltender Kent Patterson in being honored by the WCHA this season. Rau was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for Oct. 18, while Patterson was named WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week for Oct. 11 and Nov. 1.  

Blog: Kill Hoping Christmas Comes Early for Seniors

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When I was growing up (way, way back in the 1970s) we didn't start to think about Christmas until about this time of year. Once a little snow had fallen and Turkey Day was in the offing, looking forward to Christmas was allowed. 

These days, you barely get to mid-October and the Christmas decorations are already overtaking the Halloween stuff at your local department or home improvement store. Can we at least get through Halloween before the retailers start pushing Christmas stuff at us? This is really bothersome to me. 

And about this Black Friday stuff starting on Thursday night ... 

But I digress. Where was I headed with this post again? Oh, yes ... Christmas. Now that we're almost to Thanksgiving and we're in the last week of the football season, Christmas was on head coach Jerry Kill's mind during today's weekly press conference at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. 

With Saturday's game at TCF Bank Stadium serving as Senior Day for the Gophers, Coach Kill was focused on trying to send his first group of Gopher seniors out with a bang. Kill is hoping his team can play Santa Claus a little early and drop a W down the chimney of the Minnesota seniors.

"If I could have a Christmas list ... I'd love to see those seniors get a win on Saturday, I really would, because they've been through a whole lot throughout the program, and I certainly would like to see that for those kids," Kill said. "And I told the underclassmen that.  I've challenged our underclassmen, 'Hey, you need to play your guts out this week.  We need to send these kids out on a good note.'  But we're playing Illinois and that's not an easy thing.  They're a good football team."

While Kill was focused on his seniors and preparation for a game with a talented Illinois squad, many members of the media were focused on putting a bow on the 2011 season, while looking forward to unwrapping the present that will be 2012. Kill was asked exactly one question about Illinois and exactly one more about this year's team and its preparation for this week's game.

Kill was asked if he was having fun, going 2-9 so far this season. Anyone who has spent any time around Coach Kill knows the answer to that.

"I've enjoyed the process, and I enjoy coaching," Kill said. "But I don't think you ever have fun losing a game.  I think that I don't have a lot of fun on Saturday on the flight home, but neither do the kids, neither does anybody if you're a competitor.  It's not fun when you don't win.  Certainly over the last four or five weeks I've really enjoyed coaching these kids, because like I said, we're going to have practice today; we're going to practice hard, and they'll practice hard.  So I've enjoyed it -- and I see it changing.  If I didn't see it changing, I wouldn't be saying it."

"That's just the way I'm wired," Kill continued. "I enjoy life. I enjoy coaching the game. I enjoy the process."

So, what about next year, Coach?

"I will tell you, we'll be better next year," Kill said. "I can tell you that. Our goal is going to be set high. I'm not going to tell you (those goals) today because I haven't talked to our team and all that. But we'll be better and we'll move it forward.  I believe that.  And I think we have in some aspects, and I'm disappointed we haven't won a couple more games. But I'll be disappointed if we don't move it forward (next year ... I've got high standards."

But before Kill can talk to his team about next year's goals, the Gophers have one more opportunity to put a check in the W column Saturday. The Gophers have a chance to send their seniors out winners.

"This is more about the seniors," Kill said. "This senior class has been through a whole lot through their careers here.  Duane Bennett, he played as hard as he could play, he played hard on Saturday ... Kim Royston really had a good football game on Saturday.  They've been through -- just take those two kids alone -- been through a lot. I'd love to see those seniors get a win on Saturday."

Daily Clips - Nov. 22

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"Now, I am figuring it out." - Nick Bjugstad on his sophomore season (CollegeHockeyNews.com)

Gophers ranked No. 2 and No. 3 (Star Tribune) and excerpts from Don Lucia's radio show (Star Tribune)

VIDEO and story: Phil Kessel is hockey's best story (Toronto Sun)

Neal Broten is No. 2 (MNHockeyHub.com)

Alex Kangas signs with Fort Wayne (News-Sentinel)

Social media Q&A with Jeff Frazee (TheAlbanyDevils.com)

VIDEO Q&A with Jeff Taffe (Chron.com)

Keith Ballard feeling better (Vancouver Sun)

Gophers In the Pros - Week 11

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Running back Marion Barber continues to come up big in short-yardage situations for the Chicago Bears. He scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Barber's one-yard run put the Bears up 10-3 in the second quarter. The former Gopher has scored in five of his last seven games.

Barber finished the game with seven carries for 25 yards. The Bears beat San Diego 31-20 and are winners of five straight.

Here's a look at the performance of other Gophers in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League from this weekend: 

  • Eric Decker, wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, was targeted five times but did not record any catches in Denver's 17-13 win over the New York Jets. The Broncos have won three straight games.
  • Minnesota cornerback Marcus Sherels recorded one solo tackle in the Vikings' 27-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Sherels also had a 35-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
  • Tight end Matt Spaeth recorded one reception for 13 yards in the Bears' victory over San Diego.
  • Dominique Barber, safety for the Houston Texans, is on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Texans had a bye this week. They face the Jacksonville Jaguars next week.
  • New York Jets' wide receiver Logan Payne is also on injured reserve while he recovers from wrist surgery. New York lost to Denver on Thursday.
  • In addition to those who were on active rosters, three former Gopher players spent week 11 of the NFL season on the practice squad for their respective teams. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford is on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Traye Simmons is with the San Diego Chargers, and last year's quarterback Adam Weber is with the Denver Broncos.
  • In the CFL, wide receiver Arland Bruce had four receptions for 82 yards in the BC Lions' victory on Sunday. Wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright remains on the Saskatchewan Roughriders' nine-game injured list.

NCAA Selection Show and NCAA Regionals

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As the regular season winds down this weekend, all teams will be awaiting to hear if it is a part of the second season. The NCAA field of 64 for the 2011 DI women's volleyball tournament will be announced at 5 p.m. CT Nov. 27 on ESPNU.

The University of Minnesota will also be hosting one of the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA has announced the start times for Minnesota's regionals. On Friday, Dec. 9, the NCAA Regional Semifinals will be held a 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., both on ESPN 3. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Regional Final will be held at 8:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN U.

Tickets are now on sale for the NCAA Regional. All session reserved chair back is $25. all session adult general admission is $20, while all session student/youth/senior general admission is $15. Single session tickets will go on sale the week of the tournament. Fans can purchase tickets through mygophersports.com or by calling the Gopher ticket office at 1-800 UGOPHER or 612-624-8080. 

Daily Clips - Nov. 21

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Kent Paterson talks (Pioneer Press)

So far this season hockey fans has a lot to be thankful for in Minnesota (Star Tribune)

Bjugstad thrills with hat trick, Roman predicts rankings (Star Tribune)

Patterson, Bjugstad loom large in sweep (Minnesota Daily and SB Nation)

Daily Clips - Nov. 20

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VIDEO: All five goals and some highlight-reel saves from Kent Patterson. Also interviews with Patterson and Nick Bjugstad (YouTube)

Game recap, updated stats, everything you could ever want to know about last night is here (GopherSports.com)

Photos from last night's 5-0 win (GopherSports.com)

Patterson in the record books (ESPN 1500) with his sixth shutout of the season (Star Tribune)

Shutout No. 6 lifts No. 1 Gophers (Pioneer Press)

Bjugstad's hat trick was enough for Minnesota (USCHO.com)

Game highlights from FSN (SnappyTV)

Patterson, Bjugstad lead U to win (Scout.com)

Gophers earn second straight split (Examiner.com)

Maroon and gold bounce back again (Gopher Puck Live)

Fierce Gophers blank Huskies (St. Cloud Times)

All's right on Saturday night (GopherHole)

Observations from Minnesota's 5-0 win over St. Cloud

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One For the Record Books
With a 30-save shutout against St. Cloud on Saturday, Kent Patterson became Minnesota's all-time single-season record holder in shutouts with six. Patterson pulled ahead of Robb Stauber, who had five in the 1987-88 season and became the first goaltender to ever win the Hobey Baker Award. Saturday's blanking of SCSU was Patterson's first in which he faced more than 24 shots. The senior netminder had not had a shutout in his career prior to this season. No goaltender in NCAA Division I hockey had more than six shutouts last season.

Hats Off to Thee
Nick Bjugstad, who was tied for fifth in the nation in goals entering the night, made up some ground in that category by recording Minnesota's first hat trick since Jay Barriball netted three consecutive goals against Massachusetts on Oct. 9, 2010. Bjugstad opened the scoring in the first period and found the back of the net with two similar-looking power-play tallies in the third period. The sophomore now has 13 goals on the season overall and temporarily shares the lead in goals in WCHA play with nine.

Freshman Lineup Shuffle
After going with the same lineup for seven consecutive games, head coach Don Lucia mixed up the lines after Friday's loss at St. Cloud. Travis Boyd was inserted on the second line with Erik Haula and Jake Hansen and Seth Ambroz was put on the fourth line alongside Tom Serratore and Nick Larson. Sam Warning joined Taylor Matson and Nate Condon on the third line.

The move paid immediate dividends when Boyd and Haula assisted on Hansen's first-period goal. Boyd also came close to scoring his first collegiate goal on multiple occasions. Matson and Condon got assists on Mark Alt's third-period goal. 

Warning brought even more speed to an already lightning-quick third line and Ambroz was a physical force as a part of his new trio. Ambroz made some key blocked shots, as well.

Gold Jerseys
For the first time this season, Minnesota wore its gold uniforms. The Gophers broke out their new alternate white home sweaters for their sweep clinching victory over North Dakota two weeks ago and have used either the primary home (white) or road (maroon) jerseys in every other game. The Gophers are now 2-0-0 in their alternate uniforms.

Fool Me Once...
For the second straight weekend, Minnesota was unable to start its weekend series with a win, but answered the bell on the following night. The Gophers beat Wisconsin 4-1 last Saturday and downed St. Cloud 5-0 in the series finale this weekend to improve to 6-0-0 on Saturday games in 2011-12. They avoided being swept in the regular season for the first time since Dec. 3 and 4, 2010 when Minnesota State took four of four points from UM in Mankato. Minnesota also improved to 3-2-1 in the second game of home-and-home series against SCSU in which it lost the first game on the road.

Daily Clips - Nov. 19

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Highlights, interviews, game story, blog recap, instant analysis and more from last night's 4-3 loss at St. Cloud State (GopherSports.com)

Observations from Minnesota's 4-3 loss to St. Cloud

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Home-and-Home
The Gophers have not been swept in the regular season since Dec. 3 and 4 of last year when they dropped two games against Minnesota State in Mankato. For the second straight weekend, however, Minnesota will look to bounce back from a Friday night loss to avoid a being swept. So far in 2011-12, the Gophers are 5-0-0 in Saturday games, but are only 2-2-2 all-time in the second game of home-and-home series against St. Cloud in which they lost the first game on the road. The last time Minnesota won such a game was on Jan. 18, 1997 when UM beat the Huskies 6-4 at Mariucci Arena after losing 5-2 at SCSU the night before.

Marshall Still Creating Offense
One bright spot from the loss on Friday was the offensive play of defenseman Ben Marshall. Though he was on the ice for two Husky goals, Marshall did his best to make up for his mistakes, creating multiple odd-man rushes with fellow rookie Seth Ambroz. He generated many chances from the point in the offensive zone, as well. Marshall ended up recording an assist on Tom Serratore's goal with 5:01 left. He also assisted in the Gophers' last loss a week ago when Jake Hansen scored in with 1:09 to go.

Penalty Kill Struggles
Penalty killing is one facet of the game the Gophers will need to improve upon on Saturday if they want to earn a split. Last weekend against Minnesota State without top-scoring senior captain Drew LeBlanc for the first time in a long time, SCSU went 0-for-8 on the man advantage and allowed two MSU shorthanded goals. On Friday, SCSU went 2-for-5 with the advantage. Two power-play markers helped the Huskies pull away in the second period. The Gophers previously had an 89.5 percent (51-for-57) penalty-kill percentage and SCSU was 8-for-43 (18.5 percent) on the power play. Though UM didn't fare well a man down, Minnesota did hold it's opponent to 20 or fewer shots on Friday after not being able to do that once in 2010-11. SCSU put 18 shots on target.

Against Freshman Goaltenders
For the second straight weekend, Minnesota is up against a rookie goaltender. Last week, Wisconsin's Joel Rumpel backstopped the Badgers to a 3-1 home win over the Gophers and on Friday, St. Cloud's Ryan Faragher was equally impressive in front of a raucous home crowd of 5,772, saving 40 of the 43 shots he saw. Minnesota did bounce back to beat Rumpel and the Badgers last Saturday in a 4-1 win and will look to do that again tomorrow night at Mariucci Arena against Faragher.

No. 4 Minnesota at No. 5 Cornell Tonight 5:30 p.m.

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Fans the time has come! Less than one hour (5:30 p.m.) the Gophers will take on Cornell in Ithaca, NY. Flo Wrestling will have a free live webcast and 1160 AM ESPN will have free audio. 

Just wanted to pass along some last details of how you can access the dual if you are not in Ithaca. 

Go Gophers

Daily Clips - Nov. 18

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Kent Patterson has enjoyed a good start to the season (Star Tribune)

Patterson not seeing a ton of shots (Pioneer Press)

Prediction Time: Star Tribune, USCHO, Woog's Wisdom

Schmidt returns to St. Cloud as a Gopher (St. Cloud Times)

Minnesota expecting tight games this weekend (FSN)

Kyle Rau: "It's not a big deal." (Pioneer Press)

Q&A: Wildcat Wisdom

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Each week in the Golden Gopher Football blog, we chat with a beat writer or member of the media who closely covers the weekend's opposition. This week, we talked with Tina Akouris, who covers the Northwestern Wildcats for the Chicago Sun-Times.

My thanks to Tina for taking a few minutes to share her thoughts on Northwestern Football and this weekend's Gopher-Wildcat matchup. Follow Tina on Twitter @takouris. Here's my interview with her:

GopherSports.com: What's the buzz around the Wildcats, with the team in the midst of a winning streak?

Tina Akouris: It seems like every time I've gone to practice people are talking about bowl possibilities. We're not getting into specifics with the players or Pat Fitzgerald, but among the sports info guys and the writers we are all speculating as to where the Wildcats will end up if they win one or both of their last two games.

GopherSports.com: Not many teams go into Lincoln and win. How much confidence did the win at Nebraska give Northwestern?

Tina Akouris: I think it was huge. No one picked NU to beat Nebraska. People had written them off at that point and I think the team just wanted to go into Lincoln and show all of us that they can finish a game. Realize this: Northwestern never trailed at Nebraska. They led the whole time.

GopherSports.com: With a game vs. Michigan State next week, how much pressure is there on the Wildcats to win this week to reach bowl-eligible status?

Tina Akouris: The Wildcats host Michigan State at Ryan Field, which could be an advantage. NU has played six road games this season and Fitzgerald has said how happy he is to be home for the last three.

GopherSports.com: Who/what has Northwestern's attention when it comes to Minnesota?

Tina Akouris: I think the quarterback MarQueis Gray because of his size and the way he is a dual-threat kind of player. Also, I think the Gophers special teams are on the Wildcats' minds, too.

GopherSports.com: Minnesota fans are certainly aware of Dan Persa. Who are some of the other Wildcats who are making big contributions?

Tina Akouris: Kain Colter is the big one. He plays receiver and some running back when he's not taking snaps in place of Persa. Persa and Colter have been doing the two-quarterback system since Persa came back full-time during the Wildcats' 38-35 loss at Illinois on Oct. 1. Colter is quick and has faster feet than Persa did before the ruptured Achilles.

GopherSports.com: Are there any position matchups or game-within-a-game situations that you're particularly interested to see this week?

Tina Akouris: I'd like to compare Gray with how Persa-Colter do and I'm also looking forward to watching the Wildcats defense against Gray. NU was known earlier this season for having a poor pass rush defense, so that angle interests me.

GopherSports.com: How does Northwestern win the game?

Tina Akouris: Not blowing a lead in the second half, having its receivers be more aggressive in fighting for passes and finishing drives in the red zone.

GopherSports.com: How does Minnesota win the game?
Tina Akouris: Capitalizing on Northwestern mistakes, picking apart the defense and controlling the clock.
Check out a couple new videos of highlights from the Bison Open and a interview with J Robinson about  tonight's match up against Cornell and Sunday at Penn State.


Watch more video of Minnesota 2011-2012 Wrestling Season on www.theguillotineflo.com

Watch more video of Minnesota 2011-2012 Wrestling Season on www.theguillotineflo.com

Guest Entry: "The More Things Change"

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Occasionally here on the official Golden Gopher Football Blog, we'll be featuring guest contributors, including Mike Ricci, editor and webmaster of the football program's official site -- GoldenGopherGridiron.com.

I've always enjoyed the phrase, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." This is a phrase that could just as easily be associated with the game of football.
Go Gophers! Gopher Gridiron logo
Go Gophers!
Check out GoldenGopherGridiron.com for even more football content this season.
Go Gophers!

Sure, the game has evolved so much in the last 120 years or so. From the outside looking in, the game might not look the same on the surface. The T-Formation has given way to the Wildcat. The Green Bay Packers have gone from the Packer Sweep to an aerial assault that would make Dan Marino blush. Yes, the game has change drastically--on the surface. But the core of this wonderful sport remains the same. Regardless of offense and defense schemes, football is about brotherhood and camaraderie. This is something hasn't changed and will never change.

I recently came across a video on the University of Minnesota Library database. It's 16 or 17 minutes of behind the scenes footage from the 1960 National Championship team as they travel to Wisconsin. What struck me upon watching this video is how similar traveling back then is to traveling today. Granted the advancements in technology and travel since 1960 have made everything more sleek, modern, and comfortable. "The more the world has changed, the more it has stayed the same".

A little over a month ago, I followed Donnell Kirkwood on the team's trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of the scenes in the video was Donnell goofing off with his traveling roommate, David Cobb in their hotel room. It's moments like these--on the road, just hanging out with teammates, brothers in arms--that will stay with the players long after their playing careers are done. Last season, before the USC game, the 1960 team held a celebration at TCF Bank Stadium and just about everyone from that team was together again. The former players took turns telling stories about beating Iowa at Memorial Stadium that season, the superhuman strength of Tom Brown, and reminiscing about their off the field moments. That's what really sticks out with me when I watch this video: the happy memories of youth and football still stuck with these men 50 years later. And when I watch players like Kirkwood and Cobb interacting today, I realize that in 50 years, these men will have their own set of memories they will have been able to carry with them their whole lives.

The game of football has changed over the years, and it will continue to change forever and ever. The lifestyle of the game, however, will stay pretty much the same. You travel on planes with your teammates, you eat with them, you live with them, you look out for them on the field of battle.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same"

http://umedia.lib.umn.edu/node/88463

Get to Know Kayla Hirt and Micaëlla Riché

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GopherSports.com recently sat down with freshman Kayla Hirt and sophomore Micaëlla Riché to learn a little bit more about why they chose to play basketball at Minnesota and some of their interests off of the court.

"Hi I'm Kayla Hirt from Bemidji, Minnesota. I'm a freshman guard"

Why did you choose to come to the U?
I am very close with my family and I really like the atmosphere here. I really love the fans and I love the feeling of walking into the gym and seeing all of the fans get really excited. I also really like the coaches and I like what Minnesota has brought so far and I hope to win a National Championship here."

What forced you to miss the 2011-12 season?
"I tore my ACL in practice. I was devastated. It's a repeat (injury), so it's definitely heartbreaking for me, because I just didn't want to go through it again. So, now I get to learn all of the plays, settle and get all of the freshman things under my belt."

 
One thing you are known for?
"If anyone knows me, they know that my favorite thing to buy is shoes. I have a lot of shoes. I have a lot of high-tops. I own about 20, 30, 40 (pairs) - I don't know, somewhere around there."

"Hi I'm Micaëlla Riché. I'm a sophomore forward from Ottawa, Ontario."

Why did you choose to come to the U?
"I chose to come to Minnesota all the way from home because I visited and everything was amazing, the team, the facilities, the program. It all fit really well."

What are you studying at the U?
"My major is Kinesiology, so I'd like to be a strength and conditioning coach and kick athletes butts, kind of like (Sara Wiley) does to us."

How would you describe your style?
"My personal style would best be described...I don't know. I'm comfortable. I like to wear leggings. I like to wear grandpa sweaters. I like to wear leggings and leggings and leggings.

One thing you miss about home?
"You guys have Gyros and they're kind of like Shawarmas in Canada. Shawarmas are basically chicken or beef in a wrap and it's like Arabic food and it's really good in Canada, but the one I got here was not good."

Daily Clips - Nov. 17

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Wednesday roundup: Gophers talk St. Cloud State (GopherSports.com)

Minnesota hockey back on top (NCAA.com)

Special teams could decide this weekend's series (USCHO.com)

Gophers vs. Wild for State of Hockey domination (Star Tribune)

Rivalries continue for the Gophers (Gopher Puck Live)

Lucia, Motzko friendship remains strong despite rivalry (ESPN 1500)

Motzko helped U to titles (Minnesota Daily)

Gophers geared up for home-and-home series (Minnesota Daily)

So far, Gophers have golden touch (HockeyPrimeTime.com)

Haula just wants to win, points are just a bonus (Pioneer Press)

View From St. Cloud State

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It is another rivalry weekend for Minnesota, as the Gophers play at St. Cloud State on Friday and host the Huskies at home on Saturday. We talked with Zack Fisch, who is the play-by-play announcer for the Huskies on 88.1 FM KVSC in St. Cloud. Fisch is in his fourth year covering the Huskies. KVSC is the student radio station at St. Cloud State, but is the FM Home of Husky Hockey. Games are available on 88.1 FM and KVSC.org and you can follow Zack and the crew on Twitter at @KVSCHockey.

GopherSports.com: Zack, what is your take on the Huskies this year?
Zack Fisch: St. Cloud has amassed a rash of injuries, but despite losing captains Drew LeBlanc and starting goaltender Mike Lee, the Huskies continue to have success early in the season. Losing LeBlanc, the team's leading scorer last season, to a pair of broken bones in his leg, is the biggest loss and changes the complexion of the team's offense. With Lee out, first-year goaltender Ryan Faragher has been solid and turned heads in his first WCHA start when he shutout North Dakota in their building, making 44 saves in 4-0 win. With Lee having season-ending surgery this week, it is Faragher's team to lead.

While the Huskies sit at 5-5-2 overall coming into this weekend, their biggest flaw on the season has been their inability to stay out of the penalty box. St. Cloud has 133 penalty minutes and has been called for six majors on the year.

The Huskies are led offensively by junior Ben Hanowski who has notched 13 points. Senior Jared Festler has six goals on the season and has always played well against Minnesota. Sophomores Nic Dowd and Cam Reid will center the top two lines and be heavily relied upon to up their scoring in LeBlanc's absence. Also, sophomore Cory Thorson has found a scoring touch and has three goals in his last four games.

On the backend, the Huskies are young defensively, but the youthful group on the blueline has been a pleasant surprise. Kevin Gravel has played well and uses his size well, while fellow sophomore Nick Jensen is among one of the top young defenseman in the WCHA and has a transition game that is second to none. First-year players Andrew Prochno and Jarrod Rabey have not only being strong in their own zone, but have lit the lamp as well.

GS: Who is one player that Gopher fans should pay extra attention to?
ZF: Junior forward Ben Hanowski. With his fellow captains injured, the leadership role falls on his shoulders. While he is known as a vocal leader in the room, Minnesota's all-time leading high school scorer has led on the ice this year too. Hanowski spent all of last season playing through a shoulder injury and tallied 13 goals and 7 assists. Now healthy and with a "C" on his sweater, Hanowski is on pace to far surpass those numbers. A third-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hanowski already has 7 goals and 6 assists and leads the team with 13 points. He has great chemistry on a line with Dowd and fellow junior David Eddy, and the winger has grown into his body well and is using his frame to create scoring opportunities. He is a key part of the power play and will see lots of ice-time playing on the top line.

GS: Finish this sentence for us. St. Cloud State will win if ...
ZF: Plain and simple, the Huskies have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box and win the special teams battle. St. Cloud has uncharacteristically taken six major penalties on the season and coach Motzko continues to preach how his team needs to shore up its penalty problem. With an electric atmosphere in both buildings expected this weekend, SCSU, and specially its younger players, will have to make sure to not get caught up in the excitement and give the Gophers extended time with a man up.

The power play is struggling for the Huskies heading into this weekend, and coach Motzko was quoted as saying they'd be changing things up this week. St. Cloud went 0-for-8 last weekend at Minnesota State on the man advantage, and in addition, gave up two shorthanded goals. With LeBlanc out, the whole dynamic of the Huskies power play has changed. Hanowski has been stationed at the point on the man-advantage, but I believe his counterpart Jensen has the ability to quarterback the power play and be a difference maker in turning around the man advantage.

If St. Cloud can stay out of the box and chip in a power-play goal or two, they have a good shot this weekend. Ryan Faragher will have to continue his strong play between the pipes, but special teams is key.

Another Rivalry Weekend

Every WCHA game is meaningful, but Minnesota is playing significant games for the fourth straight weekend when they play St. Cloud State in a home-and-home series.

Three weeks ago, the Gophers traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, for a matchup with the Seawolves. Anchorage ended the Gophers season last year, but Minnesota swept them on their home ice this year. Two weeks ago, the Maroon and Gold swept rival North Dakota at home and the split last weekend at rival Wisconsin.

"We know that when we go to St. Cloud, the place is going to be packed and the students are excited," said coach Don Lucia. "That is what makes it fun. It's a good atmosphere, it's a good rivalry. Our freshmen and sophomore guys haven't played there, so it'll be a new experience for them, but we've been at Duluth this year and we've been at Wisconsin, so they have a taste of it."

For Nate Schmidt, playing rivalry games every weekend is one of the reasons he decided to become a Gopher.

"We play these rivalry weekends back-to-back-to-back and that's the reason why I play," said Schmidt. "That's the reason why I came to the University of Minnesota--you're going to get everyone's best shot."

Schmidt Heads Home

Go Gophers! Nate Schmidt
Go Gophers!
Nate Schmidt, who is from St. Cloud, Minn., leads the Gophers with 12 assists.
Go Gophers!
Schmidt is the only member of Minnesota's team who is from St. Could, Minn. The defenseman, who leads the Gophers with 12 assists (tied for third nationally), will play against the Huskies in St. Cloud for the first time in his career.

"For me, personally, it's a big rivalry," said Schmidt. "I grew up watching this series since I could walk. I think the in-state rivalry is the biggest part of what makes college hockey in Minnesota what it is. It gets the people excited.

"These Husky-Gopher games--it's something else. It's really the atmosphere. They sell three-deep in standing room and you can't really see the game if you're not there an hour early. I'm excited.  It's definitely a dream come true for me. Going home to play. I'm really excited about it."

Schmidt played one game against his hometown school last season, but that was in Mariucci Arena. He is looking forward to skating on familiar ice in the National Hockey Center.

"The beauty of it for me is that I played in the rink growing up," he said. "I know the bounces of the rink, so that's not going to be a change as much as the atmosphere. I'm playing in front of friends and family and that's going to be helpful for me."

Two of those family members will be his parents, who happen to have attended St. Cloud State. It took a little bit of time for them to come around to him being a Gopher.

"It was toughest for my dad," he said. "My dad went to St. Cloud State and so did my mom. He kind of turned a new leaf in this new year, so it's easier for him.

"Growing up I had St. Cloud season tickets with my dad and we'd go to a lot of home games. We'd cheer against every team that came in, including the Gophers. It's one of those situations where the tides have changed a little bit. As I've matured and grown up, it's something I have to bear with now that I'm coming home. I'm excited about the weekend and I can't be happier now that I'm a Gopher."

Traveling Day Of The Game

This weekend is a little bit different for the Gophers than most in the WCHA. They will play at St. Cloud State on Friday and then host the Huskies on Saturday. Minnesota will bus to St. Cloud Friday afternoon for the game that night. So instead of taking morning skate at the visiting rink in the morning and having all day to prepare for a road game, the Gophers will have to be ready to play pretty much when they step off the bus.

"I think that we have to get into the routine right away that when we get up there," said Schmidt. "We have to have the mindset that we have to play. We have to have a successful first period because that's the biggest thing in that arena. The energy is going to be setting off the Richter scale and everyone's going to be excited. It's the first time we've been there in a couple years. We just have to take it one game at a time, especially when we come back here to play on Saturday night."

For coach Lucia, he not only worries about having the guys ready, but he also worries about the traffic on I-94.

"The only pain is judging traffic on Friday," said Lucia. "Is it going to take us two hours to get up there or an hour and fifteen? That's the part that's hard and it is a 7:30 p.m. start rather than 7:00, so we'll get back a little bit later. But when you're 65-70 miles away it's the right thing to do a home-and-home. It's good on both sides that instead of having a two-game set at home, we'll get them once here and once in January."

Bouncing Back

The Gophers suffered their first road loss of the season last Friday at Wisconsin. However, they bounced back with a convincing 4-1 win on Saturday night at Kohl Center.

For Lucia, Saturday provided an opportunity to see how his young team would handle a WCHA loss on the road.

"I thought that it was an important to see how our guy would bounce back because I think they'd all say they kind of laid an egg on Friday and they didn't have a lot and that Wisconsin outplayed us and deserved to win the game," said Lucia. "It just reinforced that if you're not mentally and physically engaged to play, you don't give yourself a chance to win. Even Saturday, we were engaged and mentally and physically ready to play and it was a tie game going into the third, so it just reinforces that you have to be dialed in to give yourself a chance to win. It doesn't guarantee you're going to win, but it gives you a chance."

Schmidt said the coaches challenged the team to put Friday behind them and to be better on Saturday.

"It was a long waiting period from Friday to Saturday night with the video and the meetings," said Schmidt. "I think everyone was just trying to see how we would respond and the coaches said, 'Are you for real? Are you guys going to come out and be the team that we think you're capable of being or are we going to lay down because we weren't successful last night?' Games like that are going to happen. You're going to have those certain situations where you're not on like we weren't on Friday, but to come back on Saturday was a good bounce back for us."

Jennie-O-Wrestler of the Week: Brian Peterson

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Each week of the season Gophersports.com will feature a Jennie-O-Wrestler of the week. This week's wrestler is senior Brian Peterson from Richmond, Mich.

Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Switch to Turkey
Go Gophers!

Gophersports.com: Why did you choose the sport of wrestling? 

Brian Peterson: I wanted to be tough, and wrestling is a tough   sport.

GS: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving from high school wrestling to college wrestling? 

BP: Learning to control my weight was a big adjustment (I'm still adjusting...).

GS: What is the feeling like after a big takedown or scoring a pin?

BP: When I get a big takedown or pin in a match, I feel excited like I got 100% on a final exam that was worth the entire grade of a 4 credit 4000 level honors course in a subject that I don't even like.

GS: What team or individual performance are you most proud of? 

BP: Winning the North Country Open tournament is arguable my best accomplishment in wrestling so far.

GS: Where is your favorite place to eat on campus? 

BP: I like to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings.

GS: What is your favorite Minnesota tradition?

BP: I can't think of any (I'm from Michigan).

GS: What is the best part of being a member of the Minnesota wrestling team? 

BP: The people I get to often be around make joining the Gophers amazing.

GS: Why did you choose Minnesota?

BP: I choose Minnesota because they were the best team that recruited me.

GS: Who on the team is the team prankster? 

BP: We are pretty good; I wouldn't call anybody a prankster.

GS: What have you learned from wrestling that has helped you in other aspects of your life? 

BP: I have learned how to perform more excellently in spite of pain or discomfort.

GS: What is your favorite sports movie? 

BP: I don't have one.

GS: What are you listening to on your iPod right now?

BP: At this moment I am not listening to my MP3 player, but I like to listen to (and sing) hymns like To God be the Glory by Fanny Crosby and William Howard Doane.

GS: Do you have any pre-match superstitions? 

BP: I pray to a supernatural God.

GS: What are your goals for this season? 

BP: My goal this year is to win every tournament I wrestle in.

GS: What is your favorite sport outside of wrestling? 

BP: Volleyball might be my second favorite sport to do.

 GS: What has been the best memory in your Gopher wrestling career? 

BP: Watching the last 20 seconds of Jayson Ness's national championship match is probably my best Gopher wrestling memory.

GS: If you had the choice to travel either forward or backward in time, which would you choose? Why?

BP: I would rather go back in time; there are a lot of things that I would like to see throughout history.

GS: Where do you like wrestling at more the Pavilion of Williams Arena?

BP: I like Williams Arena more than the Pav because it is bigger.

GS: What is your favorite TV show?

BP: I don't watch TV.

GS: What is your favorite food?

        BP: Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon is probably my favorite food.

Blog: Mike Grimm Previews the Wildcats

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The Gopher Radio Network's Mike Grimm gives fans five things to watch (and listen) for in Saturday's game against Northwestern:

1. BEND, DON'T BREAK: Northwestern runs a fast-paced spread offense that will have the Gopher defense huffing and puffing. Minnesota's defense will have to be good in short yardage situations, on third down, and red zone defense. N-U will get yards. Minnesota's motto will have to be -- allow yards, not points.

2. QB SHUFFLE: Northwestern's double-headed quarterback situation with Dan Persa and Kain Colter is unique. These two are basically scat backs who have outstanding throwing arms. If you try to tackle them high, they will bounce up like a punching bag and keep on going. The key is to tackle these guys properly.

3. OFFENSIVE FOOTBALL: While Northwestern's offense is second in the Big Ten in yards and points, the Wilcats defense ranks near the bottom of the league. To have a chance, the Gopher offense will need to be at its best behind quarterback MarQueis Gray and receiver Da'Jon McKnight.

4. OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Gophers will need to create turnover opportunities through their defense and then turn those take-a-ways into points on offense. As mentioned, Northwestern will move the ball, but they will also give it away if you make them.

5. ROAD SHOW: This is the final road trip of the season for the Gophers. They have not won a game away from Minneapolis this year, so this is the last chance. Remember, when Minnesota ended last year on a two-game winning streak, it started with a road win in the state of Illinois. Maybe these guys can make it two years in a row in the Land of Lincoln against two different teams.

Daily Clips - Nov. 16

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Attention Gopher fans, seats are still available for Friday in St. Cloud (Star Tribune)

Weekend Preview: St. Cloud State (GopherSports.com)

Q&A with Nick Bjugstad (GopherSports.com)

Lucia expects up-tempo weekend (Star Tribune)

Patterson's mask finishes second by seven votes (Star Tribune)

VIDEO: Gopher goaltenders describe their masks (YouTube)

Where would the Leafs be without Phil Kessel? (London Free Press)

Ryan Potulny practicing, but no contact yet (Patriot-News)

Morning Skate With Nick Bjugstad

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Go Gophers! Nick Bjugstad
Go Gophers!
Bjugstad leads the Gophers with nine goals.
Go Gophers!
Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad leads the Gophers with nine goals and is second on the team with 16 points this season. We sat down with the 6'5", 211-pound Blaine, Minn., native to find out a little bit more about him.

GopherSports.com: Why do you wear No. 27?
Nick Bjugstad: I have always liked the number since I was little. My uncle Scott Bjugstad wore it when he played for the U back in the 1980s. I have always looked up to him as a hockey player and a person, so I like to wear that number. I have worn it since high school.

GS: How has your uncle Scott helped your career?
NB: He had a good career here at Minnesota and went on to play in the NHL. I never got to see him play in the NHL, but I have seen videos. He is still doing shooting clinics and has helped me with my shooting since I was little.

GS: How has he helped you with your shot?
NB: He has taken me out on the ice and has broken down my entire shot and given me really good advice. He tells me what I should be doing with my shot. He has been through it all in hockey, so he knows what is going on.

GS: He had a pretty hard shot back when he played.
NB: He still has a rocket. I didn't get to see it when he was playing, but from what I hear he scored a lot of goals and was also really good around the net.

GS: You are the tallest player on the team at 6 feet 5 inches. Have you always been taller than your peers?
NB: I think I was 5 feet 8 inches in eighth grade and at the end of my freshman year in high school I was about 6 feet 2 inches, so I had a nice growth spurt there.

GS: The sophomore class is pretty large in numbers and a lot of the players are from the area. Was it weird at the beginning playing against some of these guys in high school and then being their teammate in college?
NB: Yeah, that was pretty weird at the beginning. I played against Justin Holl, Mark Alt and Kyle Rau a lot in high school. It is cool playing with them now because we had some battles in high school.

GS: Give us a good story from high school that involves one of your Minnesota teammates.
NB: That has to be the semifinals of the state tournament my junior year against Eden Prairie. Kyle Rau scored some goals off some of our guys shin pads. He had two goals after we were up 2-0 on them, so I definitely look back on that and am a little bit sour about that. They knocked us out and ended up winning the entire thing.

GS: Does he ever bring that up?
NB: Oh yeah, he will ask me how many rings I have.

GS: You also played tennis in high school and were 18-0 in doubles your junior year. You had to miss the section tournament to participate in the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto. Just how good were you?
NB: I wasn't that good fundamentally. My partner was pretty good. We were both pretty tall and we kind of figured out how to get to the net and figured out how to win. We were not that skilled, but figured out how to win.

Go Gophers! Nick Bjugstad
Go Gophers!
Bjugstad was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers.
Go Gophers!
GS: You were a first-round draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. What was that experience like?

NB: That was pretty cool. I had never been to Los Angeles before, so that was fun. It was a surreal moment. I watched the draft all the time when I was younger and never thought I would be up there. It was exciting being there.

GS: You have scored show highlight-reel goals this year. Have you ever had to say, "Wow, that just happened," after any of them?
NB: The puck just landed on my stick when we were at Minnesota Duluth earlier this year (VIDEO of goal). Zach Budish made a good play and I did not expect to get that much room from their defender. I was able to score and that was probably my favorite or most exciting goal this year.

GS: You have taken only two penalties this year for four minutes, after taking 20 penalties for 51 minutes last year. What has been the key for you to stay out of the box?
NB: Last year, I was in the dressing room five minutes into the first game of the season because of a penalty. That was not very fun for me, but I learned my lesson. I took a lot of penalties last year and tried cut down on them this year by moving my feet a little bit more and using my stick a little bit more.

GS: What else have you learned from freshman to sophomore year?
NB: You have to be dialed in every game. You cannot take anyone lightly because everyone in our league is good.

GS: How would you describe this year's team to somebody who has not seen you guys play?
NB: I think we are a hard-working and gritty team that has a little bit of skill as well. I think we have all the right ingredients to be a good team.

Video: Catching Up With Willie Burton

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Willie Burton came to the University of Minnesota from Detroit, and left as a Golden Gopher legend. He led Minnesota to the Sweet Sixteen as a junior, and then to the Elite Eight as a senior in 1990. He holds the second-highest career point total in Gopher history with 1,800.

Burton's scoring average increased every year. He averaged 8.7 points per game as a freshman, and 19.3 as a senior. He boasted a field goal completion rate of 51.1 percent. A lot of Burton's points came from the line, as he holds the school record for free throws made (426).

Following his career at Minnesota, Burton spent eight years in the NBA. He played for the Heat, 76ers, Hawks, Spurs, and Hornets. His 1990-91 performance earned him second-team All-Rookie honors.

Burton was inducted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame in 2010. More recently, he was back on campus for All-Star Friday Night in October, where he took some time to talk about what he is up to now.

Coach Kill Remaining Positive

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Go Gophers! Coach Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Kill plans to turn the Gophers' lack of bowl eligibility into a positive, he said Tuesday.
Go Gophers!

Watch Coach Kill's Entire Press Conference (Gopher All-Access)

Jerry Kill will tell you he hasn't had too many bad days in his life. It's also well-known that much of his coaching career has been spent taking programs that were in a downward spiral and putting them on an upward trend.
 
So, his response when asked if it bothers him that up to 10 other Big Ten teams could be getting an extra 15 practices in preparation for a bowl game this season was really not surprising. Coach Kill said there are ways the time that other teams are spending on bowl practices can be put to good use.

"You turn it to a positive," Kill said. "We'll be recruiting. What are you going to do? We'll take it as a positive. We'll still be here. We'll be farther along than we were last year. I wasn't here at this time last year. We'll have a good recruiting base. 

Go Gophers! Coach Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Jerry Kill
Go Gophers!
"Our kids will be working in the off-season," Kill added. "We need to get in the weight room and get stronger and faster anyway. Sometimes if you're 6-6, going to a bowl game ...  right now we need to be in the weight room getting bigger, stronger, faster. We'll take it and turn it into a positive. Nothing else we can do about it."

Of course the person asking that question was assuming that this week's Gopher opponent - Northwestern - will win one of its two remaining games to get to bowl eligibility. Northwestern is seeking a fifth straight season of bowl eligibility, which would be a school record. Kill's squad would like to make the Wildcats go into their Nov. 26 game with Michigan State needing a win to reach a bowl game. 

But Kill says that will be a difficult task, especially facing a high-octane Wildcat offense.

"I think they understand what they're trying to do," Kill said of the Northwestern offensive unit. "It starts with the quarterback (Dan Persa). (He) throws for a high percentage, makes good decisions. They always seem to find quarterbacks there at Northwestern. He can beat you with his feet.  He throws the short passing game, very precise routes and they do a good job of getting open. They are a very disciplined offensive football team.  They're just good at what they do."

Large Support System
Going back to coach in the State of Illinois, where he coached for 10 years prior to coming to Minnesota won't be much different than any other road trip, Kill said. He did admit that he will probably have a good number of friends, family, former players and other well-wishers in Evanston Saturday. But even that isn't much different than any other road trip or home game, for that matter.

"I've been fortunate," Kill said. "I've been blessed.  Every week ... as a staff, we have ex-players from all over the place coming in. We don't have enough tickets to get people tickets to get to the game. We've had a huge following. We'll have a huge group of people. That's why you coach."

Kill said his former players, many of who were with him through a real struggle at the beginning of his tenure at Southern Illinois, have encouraged his new team to hang in there. Coach Kill likes to tell his team that those who perservere will be rewarded in the long run. His former players have echoed that sentiment.

"A lot of the ex-players have been supportive of me because they know I'm not a very good loser," Kill said. "They know I'm not very good at it. A lot of the kids that were part of that 1-10 season when I went to Southern Illinois have been up here, been in the locker room actually, talked to some of our players. They have said, 'Stick with the old man. Do what he tells you. You'll win. We're living proof of it.'  They've been supportive of me without me even asking, which is a neat thing."

But Kill reiterated he is firmly entrenched here in Minnesota now, despite coming off a decade in the state he just happens to be coaching a game in this weekend.

"I look forward to going back," he said. "But I just want to see our team get better.  I'm at the University of Minnesota right now. I'm in the state of Minnesota. My wife and I love it here.
"My wife and I both are disappointed for everybody in the state," Kill continued. "Our time will come. I walked off the field Saturday and I went through the tunnel and walked into the locker room, had to go talk to those kids. All I'll tell you is our time will come. It all cycles back around eventually. I look forward to being in that cycle. I don't like being in this one."

Gophers In the Pros - Week Nine

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Broncos' quarterback Tim Tebow completed only two passes on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but former Gopher Eric Decker took one of those to the house for Denver's biggest play of the day.

Decker took over as a starting wide receiver for the Broncos after the Brandon Lloyd trade. And he may have become Tebow's favorite target. Decker's 56-yard touchdown reception put the Broncos up 17-7 in the final seven minutes of the game and provided the final margin of victory in a 17-10 win over the Chiefs.

"We knew if we won this game here it would put us right back in contention for the AFC West, and that's our ultimate goal," Decker reported to the Denver Post. "We started out bad, but we're going to keep on working, keep on taking it one game at a time and see how it ends up."

The Broncos' victory moves them to 4-5 on the season and puts them just one game back of the division leading Raiders.

Here's a look at the performance of other Gophers in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League:

  • Chicago Bears' running back Marion Barber recorded 13 carries for 27 yards in Chicago's division battle against Detroit. The Bears won 37-13.
  • Matt Spaeth, tight end with the Chicago Bears, was active but did not record any statistics in the Bear's victory over the Lions.
  • Vikings' cornerback Marcus Sherels was active but did not record any statistics in Minnesota's 45-7 loss to Green Bay.
  • Safety Dominique Barber is on the Houston Texans' injured reserve list with a knee injury. The Texans beat the Buccaneers 37-9 and are tied for the best record in the AFC at 7-3.
  • Logan Payne, wide receiver for the New York Jets, is also on injured reserve while he recovers from wrist surgery. The Jets fell to the Patriots Sunday night 37-16.
  • In addition to those who were on active rosters, three former Gopher players spent week ten of the NFL season on the practice squad for their respective teams. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford is with the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Traye Simmons is with the San Diego Chargers, and last year's quarterback Adam Weber practices for the Denver Broncos.
  • In the CFL, wide receiver Arland Bruce and the BC Lions had a bye this week. Ernie Wheelwright, wide receiver for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, remains on nine-game injured list.

 

Daily Clips - Nov. 15

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Vote for Kent Patterson's mask! (Facebook)

Gophers remain No. 1 in both polls (GopherSports.com)

Kent Patterson looked up to Robb Stauber growing up, but now they are looking eye-to-eye in the record books (USCHO.com)

Did you miss Don Lucia's radio show last night? Roman didn't and he has a summary for you (Star Tribune)

Despite injuries, St. Cloud State still earning points (Star Tribune)

Phil Kessel on record-setting pace (Windsor Star)

Gophers Remain No. 1 In Both Polls

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Minnesota remained No. 1 in both the USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls released today.
 
The Maroon and Gold began the year ranked No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll and was unranked in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. However, after only five weeks, the the Gophers climbed to the top of both polls.
 
Today's polls mean that the Gophers will play four straight games as the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time since Nov. 21-29, 2008 (split at Denver, lost to Michigan and tied Michigan State).

The last time the Gophers played more than four straight games as No. 1 was during the 2006-07 season. The Gophers played 18 straight games as the No. 1 team in the country from Nov. 18, 2006 - Jan. 27, 2007 (record was 13-4-1 in those games).

Minnesota's 4-1 win at Wisconsin on Saturday was its first win as the No. 1-ranked team in the country since Nov. 21, 2008 when it beat Denver 5-2 on the road. 

The Gophers play at rival St. Cloud State on Friday before hosting the Huskies on Saturday.

Gophers Honor HOFer Sandy Stephens

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One of the all-time Gopher greats is about to receive his greatest honor yet.

The University of Minnesota honored former All-American quarterback Sandy Stephens during Saturday's game against Wisconsin, as the two-time Rose Bowl participant will be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame Dec. 6 in New York.
Go Gophers! Sandy Stephens
Go Gophers!
Sandy Stephens III with U of M President Eric Kaler on the field Saturday.
Go Gophers!

Stephens, who passed away on June 6, 2000 at age 59, was represented Saturday by his son Sandy Stephens III, his siblings - Barbara Stephens Foster, Ray Stephens and Joyce (Stephens) Bell - his nephew Lee Stephens, his niece Sharla Foster and long-time friend Otis Courtney.

Only 900 players and 194 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly five million people who have played or coached the game over the past 143 years. In other words, less than .0002 percent of those who have set foot on the gridiron have earned the distinction.

We'll have more coverage once Stephens' enshrinement comes around, but be sure to watch the video from Saturday's recognition ceremony honoring one of college football's finest players.

Daily Clips - Nov. 14

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Wisconsin's view on Minnesota's 4-1 win last Saturday (Star Tribune)

Kyle Rau checks in at No. 11 (MN Hockey Hub)

Get well soon Goli (Defending Big D)

Leddy has been Hawks best D-man (ChicagoNow.com)

This week's opponent St. Cloud State is fighting injuries (College Hockey News)

Blog: Michele Redman Captures Legends Tour Victory

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Minnesota women's golf head coach Michele Redman carded rounds of 72-70 to win the ISPS Legends Tour Open Championship. Below is the release courtesy of Lisa Mickey from the LPGA.

Lisa also shared with me that plenty of Golden Gopher fans sporting maroon "M" hats were on hand to cheer her on.

Congrats Coach Redman!

Bright House Sports Network Video Link 1

Bright House Sports Network Video Link 2

PALM HARBOR, Fla., Nov. 13, 2011 - Michele Redman answers to the title of "Coach" these days, but today, she added the title of "champion" to her 2011 list of accolades.

The LPGA Tour veteran, who became the new head women's golf coach at the University of Minnesota in August, emerged as the winner of the ISPS Legends Tour Open Championship presented by Publix and Kraft Foods.

Redman posted rounds of 72-70 to win the Legends Tour's season-ending tournament at 2-under 142 on the Island Course at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort.

She edged out last year's champion Rosie Jones, who finished second at even-par 144 with a final-round score of 3-under 69. Redman was runner-up to Jones at the 2010 tournament.

"I really didn't expect much," said Redman, 46, a second-year member of the Legends Tour and a two-time LPGA Tour winner. "I just came down to Florida to have some fun and to go on vacation next week."

But Redman had a few extra cheerleaders heading into today's final round. After Saturday's opening round, she received text messages and emails from her Minnesota Golden Gopher players, telling the coach to go low.

And today, Coach Redman played like the LPGA Tour veteran who won the 1997 JAL Big Apple Classic, the 2000 First Union Betsy King Classic and who was a scrappy former U.S. Solheim Cup team member who used to drive her opponents crazy because she's the classic "Steady Betty" under fire.

Redman bogeyed the first hole when she three-putted from 45 feet, but she answered with a birdie from 18 feet on No. 3 and a 45-foot birdie on the eighth hole. She chipped in from 15 feet on the 10th hole and played the remaining holes at even-par, intentionally not looking at leaderboards on the course.

"I think I'm getting smarter," said Redman, who pocketed the $40,000 winner's prize. "Honestly, I've been so busy with my new job, I haven't thought about winning, but I putted well today. This was a lot of fun."

Celebrating her 52nd birthday in today's final round, Jones knew she needed to post a low score to have a chance to break away from the pack to defend her title.

"I knew I was still in the game if I could go out there and make some birdies today," said runner-up Jones, who recently served as captain of the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup team. "But this is a tight golf course and you really have to be in touch with your putter. You can't make any mistakes."

Finishing third at one-over 145 was Cindy Figg-Currier (70). Tied for fourth at 3-over 147 was Christa Johnson (72) and Legends Tour rookie Liselotte Neumann (73).

Canadian Lorie Kane, who started today's final round tied for the lead with Redman, struggled today with a 4-over 76 to finish sixth at 4-over 148. A second-year Legends Tour member, Kane carded a double-bogey on the second hole and could never catch Redman, with whom she was paired in the last group.

"She played steady, just as she always does," said Kane of Redman's performance.

And steady wins golf tournaments.

- Lisa D. Mickey


Daily Clips - Nov. 13

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Minnesota beats rival Wisconsin (GopherSports.com)

Gophers surge past Wisconsin (Star Tribune)

Lucia earns 300th win as Minnesota coach (Pioneer Press)

Matson leads Gophers to win (ESPN 1500)

Minnesota bounces back, earns split (Gopher Puck Live)

Feldy and Phersy debate Gopher hockey (Rochester Post Bulletin)

AUDIO: Lucia, Matson and Condo talk (AudioBoo)

The Emperor pontificates on where Minnesota will be ranked on Monday (Star Tribune)

Gophers split with Badgers (Examiner.com)

Gophers third-period barrage buries Badgers (Madison.com)

Observations from Minnesota's 4-1 win over Wisconsin

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Meaningful Win
With the 4-1 win on Saturday, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia's earned his 300th win as the head coach of the University of Minnesota hockey team. The Gophers, who lost on Friday's series-opener in hockey and lost on the football field earlier Saturday, avoided being swept in Madison, Wis. since Nov. 12 and 13, 1999. The top-ranked Gophers also improved to 3-6-1 in their last ten games as the country's top ranked team. UM will meet the Badgers again at Mariucci Arena for the Gophers' Senior Weekend on March 2 and 3.

Freshmen Not Named Rau
Through the first month of the season, Kyle Rau was the best freshman in NCAA Division I hockey, shown by his HCA National Freshman of the Month award. He also scored a clutch game-winning goal against North Dakota a week ago and was solid in every facet of the game. He played terrific again this weekend, but some other freshmen stepped up their game, as well.

Entering Friday night's game, Seth Ambroz has a plus/minus rating of +1, tied for the lowest among Gophers with more than three games played. He didn't improve on that number in the loss, but he did make a positive impact in the game by making several hits and breaking up two prime scoring chances for Wisconsin's Ryan Little. He was one of six Minnesota skaters that weren't on the ice for a Badger goal and he almost netted his third goal of the season in the final frame when he hit the crossbar with 9:10 to go.

On Saturday, Ambroz continued his solid play, creating a screen in front of the Wisconsin net that helped Seth Helgeson score the game's first goal. He finished with a +2 rating on the night.

Rookie defenseman Ben Marshall also played well, creating many chances on both nights. His feed to Erik Haula early in the third period on Friday almost gave the Gophers life early in the period, but Haula's one-timer was stopped by UW goalie Joel Rumpel.

Marshall played well again on Saturday, firing several shots in from the point and making some good rushes deep into the offensive zone.

Fellow first-year skaters Travis Boyd and Sam Warning did their part to contribute to Saturday's win, as well.

Senior Leadership
Another positive from UM's first WCHA loss was the play of senior assistant captain Jake Hansen. Hansen helped create several scoring chances in the final 25 minutes of the game and was finally rewarded with his fourth goal of the year with 1:09 to go. In the series finale, Hansen was effective again, helping the Gophers second line gain the UW zone on several occasions.

Another senior who stepped up this weekend was captain Taylor Matson. Eager to make sure his team avoided a sweep, Matson made a great effort to set up Seth Helgeson's opening tally. He also beat UW goalie Joel Rumpel 6:14 into the third period to notch the game-winning goal.

"That Felt Great"
For the second straight year, Wausau, Wis.-native Nate Condon scored against his home-state team at the Kohl Center. Around ten minutes after making a great effort to set up Taylor Matson's goal, Condon created his own breakaway and converted on a snapshot to ice the game at 4-1. The goal was similar to a shorthanded goal he scored at Alaska Anchorage two weeks ago.

Special Teams Provide Highlights for Gophers

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Throughout Minnesota's 42-13 loss to Wisconsin, the Badgers maintained control of the game. But a few big special teams plays injected some energy into the Gophers and kept them within reach for awhile.

Down 21-0 in the second quarter, the Gophers sent out their field goal unit to try for three points. Instead, they came away with six. Holder Adam Lueck flipped the ball through his legs to kicker Jordan Wettstein, who ran to the right and into the end zone. In the excitement after his 5-yard touchdown run, he missed the extra point attempt, but the Gophers were on the board.
Go Gophers! Wettstein
Go Gophers!
The Gophers celebrate after Wettstein's touchdown.
Go Gophers!

"We've done enough reps the last week that it was just kind of second nature," Wettstein said. "I trusted Adam. We hit it all week, and we executed."

The Gophers went into the locker room down 28-6. Then they gained some momentum right away in the third when Duane Bennett returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. It was the Minnesota's second kick return touchdown of the season.

"It got the sideline really alive, and then our defense was able to come out and get some stops," Bennett said.

Even against a tough opponent like Wisconsin, and even when they are down, the Gophers have found ways to make positive things like those two touchdowns happen. Head coach Jerry Kill has tried to instill a "never say die" attitude in his team, and the team has taken it to heart.

"You can't sit down and dwell on (it), whether you're down 28 or down 35 points," Bennett said. "You've got to come out and play the next play and be ready to go. I think the players take that pride in what Coach Kill is preaching to us as far as fighting back. ....The last thing you want to do is quit on the field and make it evident to your teammates, your coaches, as well as the fans that have seen it. You can notice when somebody's quit."

On the Road with the Golden Gophers

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Gophersports.com takes fans on the road with the Minnesota women's basketball squad as its plays three games in three days at the WBI Tip Off Classic in sunny and warm Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Gophers arrived in the Sunshine State Thursday night, before opening the 2011-12 season with a 68-60 victory over Arkansas Friday night on lucky 11-11-11.

Follow along with their journey day-by-day in a series of videos. Enjoy!

Daily Clips - Nov. 12

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Gophers Drop First WCHA Game Of Season (GopherSports.com)

Observations from Minnesota's 3-1 loss to Wisconsin

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Not Easy Being Number One
After ascending to the top ranking in the country from the No. 19 spot just ten games into the season, the Gophers dropped to 2-6-1 in their last nine contests as the top-ranked team in the country on Friday. The last time UM was No. 1 in 2008, it lost to Michigan 6-3 and tied Michigan State 4-4 at home in the College Hockey Showcase after a road split with Denver. The loss was also Minnesota's first in WCHA play. The Gophers were the last team in the league to lose an in-conference game and are still in first place by three points at 6-1-0. It was also UM's first road loss after sweeping league foes Minnesota-Duluth and Alaska Anchorage away from Mariucci Arena.

Quick Strikes
Just like in their 5-4 loss to Vermont where they gave up three goals in just over three minutes to fall behind in the second period, the Gophers afforded their opponent three goals in a short time span in the second period on Friday. The Badgers scored all three of their goals in a 5:38 span in the second period to win their first game against Minnesota at the Kohl Center since Nov. 6, 2009. UW also held the Gophers off the scoreboard for the first two periods after UM had scored in each of its first 13 periods, including overtime, on the road this season. 

Full of Youth
The Gophers-Badgers game on Friday night was full of young players. A total of ten upperclassmen dressed for the two teams combined, including UW junior goalie Mitch Thompson, who didn't play. Three of the game's four goals were scored by sophomores. Jake Hansen's goal with 1:09 left to play was the only goal scored by a junior or senior.

Rumpel Earning His Time
After going with freshman Landon Peterson in the first game in each of their first five series this year, the Badgers started fellow rookie Joel Rumpel in net on Friday. Rumpel entered the night with the better statistics, holding a 3-1-1 record despite a 4-5-1 start by UW overall. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound goaltender added to his resume by making many timely saves in a 24-save winning effort over No.1 Minnesota.

Trying to Shut Down Down Schultz
He may be a defenseman, but Wisconsin's Justin Schultz is one of the top point producers in the nation. He showed why on Friday. In addition to coming close to goals on many attempts in the first, Schultz sprung Michael Mersch on a breakaway that created UW's third goal. The assist, his second of the night, added to his nation leading (by a defenseman) point total. He now has 16 points (4g-12a) on the year after he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and first-team All-American last season.

Q&A: Bucky Bytes

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Each week here in the Golden Gopher Football blog, I chat with a beat writer or member of the media who covers the opponent and we publish that interview in a Q&A format here. This week, Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal and madison.com was kind enough to give us a few minutes. Here's that interview ... 

GopherSports.com: What's the buzz around the Badgers, after such a dominating performance last week?

Tom Mulhern: Relief, mostly. The previous two losses on last-second touchdown passes were agonizing for fans and players alike. The dominating win at Purdue gets them back on track. Next up: winning on the road in the Big Ten.

GopherSports.com: Wisconsin has held Paul Bunyan's Axe for seven years. None of the Badger players have ever lost to Minnesota. How do they view the game and the rivalry?

Tom Mulhern: It's important to the players because the coaches make a big deal out of it. The coaches start talking about the axe going all the way back to January, when the team first gathers after taking a few weeks off after the bowl game. The axe is on the field for all of the practices this week. Players usually touch it on their way to the locker room. Each year, UW coach Bret Bielema has a guest speaker give a presentation about the rivalry. This year, it was defensive graduate assistant Ben Strickland, who recovered the blocked punt in the end zone for the winning touchdown in 2005.

GopherSports.com: Does Minnesota's performance at Michigan State, a place where Wisconsin also lost a close game, grab the Badgers' attention?
Tom Mulhern: Without question. I think beating Iowa, then taking the Spartans into the fourth quarter in consecutive weeks means the coaches won't have to work hard at all to get the players' attention this week.

GopherSports.com: Who/what has Wisconsin's attention when it comes to Minnesota?

Tom Mulhern: Well, MarQueis Gray and Da'Jon McKnight for starters. The Badgers have faced a lot of dual-threat quarterbacks this season, with mixed results. They did a great job against Nebraska's Taylor Martinez (61 rushing yards) and not so great against Ohio State's Braxton Miller (99 rushing yards, 2 TDs). McKnight certainly looked like one of the best receivers in the Big Ten last week. The Badgers rank second in the Big Ten in pass defense but those late breakdowns in the two losses remain a huge concern. The fifth-year players, like safety Aaron Henry, remember Kim Royston, who last played at UW in 2007. The younger UW players probably know Royston because he shows up a lot on film, making tackles.

GopherSports.com: Minnesota fans are certainly aware of Russell Wilson, Montee Ball and Nick Toon. Who are some under-the-radar Badgers who are making big contributions?

Tom Mulhern: Tight end Jacob Pedersen is a big threat in the red zone (team-high seven TDs).  Fullback Bradie Ewing is a tough blocker and a receiving threat (13-194). The defense prides itself on being a bunch of no names, but LBs Mike Taylor and Chris Borland are tied for the Big Ten lead in tackles and CB Antonio Fenelus might be playing as well as anybody in the conference at his position.

GopherSports.com: Are there any position matchups or game-within-a-game situations that you're particularly interested to see this week?

Tom Mulhern: To me, it's all about the run game. UW has averaged 223.7 rushing yards and 46.9 attempts in the seven-game winning streak over the Gophers. How will Minnesota's defense defend that, while also slowing the play-action passing game that has been such a huge part of quarterback Russell Wilson's success?

GopherSports.com: How does Wisconsin win the game?

Tom Mulhern: Stay away from momentum-swinging big plays allowed on special teams, which were huge factors in road losses at Michigan State and Ohio State. Run the ball at least 40 times and continue to avoid turnovers (only six lost all year). On defense, keep Gray contained and limit big plays.

GopherSports.com: How does Minnesota win the game?

Tom Mulhern: The strategy has to be to control the ball on offense, to keep UW's offense off the field. Wisconsin ranks fourth in the Big Ten in time of possession (31:00), so it has not held the ball as much as recent years. If the Gophers can come up with a couple big plays -- either on offense or special teams -- they can ride the momentum of the home crowd and win the game with the help of a late onside kick. Worked before, right?

The Jeanly Cup

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Haven't heard of the Jeanly Cup? Most people haven't, being that it's a made up intrasquad three-on-three tournament, with a tin foil trophy at stake. However, the competitive nature of the Gopher players and coaches made it an entertaining event. 

A Gopher women's hockey tradition since 2003, the Jeanly Cup is an annual tournament, held the week of the Four Nations Cup each fall. The Gopher squad, including coaches, are split into four teams. Seniors Anne Schleper, Sarah Erickson, Emily West and Kelly Seeler were named the captains of each team, and held a draft to pick their teammates.

With bragging rights and the Jeanly Cup on the line, the competition was fierce. Team Orange, led by Erickson, earned a spot in the championship game with its play in the first three days of the tournament. In today's play, Team Black, led by West, battled against Schleper and Team White for the other spot in the championship game. Black won, putting White in the consolation game against Team Blue, led by Seeler. The consolation game loser has the unfortunate task of carrying the baggage when the team travels to Boston to play Harvard Nov. 25-26. White won the consolation game, giving Blue baggage duty on the trip to Harvard.

In the championship game, Team Orange and Team Black skated to a 4-4 tie at the end of regulation. Coach Frost decided to implement a two-minute sudden-death overtime period, during which Erickson scored for Orange.  

Athletic director Joel Maturi was on hand to present the Jeanly Cup to Team Orange. Coach Muzerall presented the Jean Smythe MVP Award to Team Black's Bethany Brausen and the Jean-Vezna Top Goalie Award to Shyler Sletta. Video of the championship-winning goal and award presentations can be seen here.

Team Orange members proud signed their names to the Jeanly Cup trophy to record their 2011 Jeanly Cup victory. The trophy was constructed by Coaches Frost and Johnson.

Champions: Team Orange
Sarah Erickson
Brad Frost
Kelly Terry
Sam Downey
Rachel Ramsey

Second Place: Team Black
Emily West
Bethany Brausen
Meghan Lorence
Nikki Ludwigson
Becky Kortum

Third Place: Team White
Anne Schleper
Baylee Gillanders
Stephanie Anderson
Nadine Muzerall
Sarah Davis

Fourth Place and winners of baggage duty: Team Blue
Kelly Seeler
Megan Bozek
Katie Frischmann
Rachael Bona
Joel Johnson

Photo album available on the Gopher women's hockey Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MinnesotaWomensHockey

Video: Catching Up With Voshon Lenard

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Former Minnesota guard Voshon Leonard was one of several alumni who appeared at the Gophers' All-Star Friday Night event on Oct. 14. He received a warm reception from the fans in attendance as he participated in the three-point contest and alumni scrimmage.

The Detroit native played for Minnesota from 1991-95. He was a great scorer, and officially finished his Gopher career with 1,097 points, now 27th in school history. He was a sniper from behind the three-point line, making 137 triples to rank seventh in Gopher history.

Lenard went on to play in the NBA, with the Heat, Nuggets, Raptors, and Trailblazers. He averaged 11.9 ppg during his 11-year career, and also won the 2004 All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shootout.

Look for more video Q&A sessions with Gopher alumni and current players throughout the season.

View From Wisconsin

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Minnesota heads to rival Wisconsin for a pair of Border Battle games this weekend. Starting on Friday, the top-ranked Gophers will play five of their next six games on the road. We talked with Chuck Schwartz, who is the hockey editor of Bucky's 5th Quarter, about the Badgers. You can also follow Schwartz, who is a college hockey loyalist, on Twitter.
 
GopherSports: Chuck, you are a loyal follower of all things Wisconsin, but pay extremely close attention to the Badger hockey program. Can you give us a scouting report on them this year?
Chuck Schwartz: The team refuses to use it as an excuse, but it's impossible to talk about Wisconsin without bringing up their youth. The Badgers have only one senior on the roster, and have been trotting out lineups this season that regularly feature 15+ underclassmen. Without injured junior forward Derek Lee available this weekend, Wisconsin will use a lineup of forwards that features only one upperclassman, and that's junior Ryan Little, a converted defenseman.

It's been an up and down five weeks for the Badgers but they've played significantly better at the Kohl Center than they have on the road. Wisconsin is 4-2 at home so far, averaging over two more goals per game.

One of the major question marks surrounding this team coming into the year was where the scoring was going to come from, and to this point the answer has been by committee. The top line of Mark Zengerle, Tyler Barnes, and Joseph LaBate has led the charge, but 14 different players have recorded goals for the Badgers.

GS: Who is one player that Gopher fans should pay attention to this weekend?
CS: Defenseman Justin Schultz. He might be the best player in college hockey right now. The junior passed up an opportunity to sign a rookie max pro contract to come back for another year, and has been impressive in every facet. He'll play in all situations this weekend and will make it look effortless. Schultz had three goals last weekend vs. St. Cloud and saved his biggest one for last. His goal with 40 seconds left on Saturday night forced overtime and helped Wisconsin earn a much needed road point against the Huskies.

GS: Finish this sentence for us. Wisconsin will win if...
CS: It can get consistent play from their freshmen goaltenders. This is the first season since 1964-65 that the Badgers started the season without a goalie on the roster with collegiate game experience. Wisconsin has rotated two freshmen, Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel so far and have found mixed results. Wisconsin can't get into a track meet on the scoreboard if they want to win, so they are going to have to find a way to keep the number one scoring offense in the country under wraps. If Peterson and Rumpel can hold Minnesota's offense in check, Wisconsin will be in a position to earn some league points.

View From Wisconsin

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Minnesota heads to rival Wisconsin for a pair of Border Battle games this weekend. Starting on Friday, the top-ranked Gophers will play five of their next six games on the road. We talked with Chuck Schwartz, who is the hockey editor of Bucky's 5th Quarter, about the Badgers. You can also follow Schwartz, who is a college hockey loyalist, on Twitter.
 
GopherSports: Chuck, you are a loyal follower of all things Wisconsin, but pay extremely close attention to the Badger hockey program. Can you give us a scouting report on them this year?
Chuck Schwartz: The team refuses to use it as an excuse, but it's impossible to talk about Wisconsin without bringing up their youth. The Badgers have only one senior on the roster, and have been trotting out lineups this season that regularly feature 15+ underclassmen. Without injured junior forward Derek Lee available this weekend, Wisconsin will use a lineup of forwards that features only one upperclassman, and that's junior Ryan Little, a converted defenseman.

It's been an up and down five weeks for the Badgers but they've played significantly better at the Kohl Center than they have on the road. Wisconsin is 4-2 at home so far, averaging over two more goals per game.

One of the major question marks surrounding this team coming into the year was where the scoring was going to come from, and to this point the answer has been by committee. The top line of Mark Zengerle, Tyler Barnes, and Joseph LaBate has led the charge, but 14 different players have recorded goals for the Badgers.

GS: Who is one player that Gopher fans should pay attention to this weekend?
CS: Defenseman Justin Schultz. He might be the best player in college hockey right now. The junior passed up an opportunity to sign a rookie max pro contract to come back for another year, and has been impressive in every facet. He'll play in all situations this weekend and will make it look effortless. Schultz had three goals last weekend vs. St. Cloud and saved his biggest one for last. His goal with 40 seconds left on Saturday night forced overtime and helped Wisconsin earn a much needed road point against the Huskies.

GS: Finish this sentence for us. Wisconsin will win if...
CS: It can get consistent play from their freshmen goaltenders. This is the first season since 1964-65 that the Badgers started the season without a goalie on the roster with collegiate game experience. Wisconsin has rotated two freshmen, Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel so far and have found mixed results. Wisconsin can't get into a track meet on the scoreboard if they want to win, so they are going to have to find a way to keep the number one scoring offense in the country under wraps. If Peterson and Rumpel can hold Minnesota's offense in check, Wisconsin will be in a position to earn some league points.

Daily Clips - Nov. 10

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Wednesday Roundup: Rau comes up big, Patterson ties Satuber and Condon heads home (GopherSports.com)

Gophers have a game-changer in net (ESPN 1500)

VIDEO: Gophers winning close games (WCCO)

VIDEO: Rau exceeding lofty expectations (KSTP)

"I like pressure on myself. It makes me better." - Kyle Rau (Star Tribune)

Rankings don't mean anything come Friday (Minnesota Daily)

Johnny Pohl check in at No. 14 (MNHockeyHub.com)

Position Preview: Guards

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The Golden Gopher men's basketball team opens its regular season against Bucknell this Friday, Nov. 11. During the final days before the opener, Gophersports.com has been previewing what to look for at different positions. The first two installments focused on centers/power forwards and small forwards. The third looks at the Gopher guard corps.

Minnesota enters the regular season with uncertainty in the backcourt. Several players are competing to fill the spots left by last year's seniors, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber. Two exhibition games has not been enough to fully see what they are capable of doing, so the early non-conference schedule will be important in terms of establishing a guard rotation.
Go Gophers! Austin Hollins
Go Gophers!
Austin Hollins is one of three returning guards.
Go Gophers!

The Gophers returned three guards from last year: sophomores Austin Hollins, Chip Armelin, and Maverick Ahanmisi. Hollins is one of the Gophers' best defenders, leading the team with an average of 1.2 steals per game last season. The Gophers will also count on him to hit some outside shots. With three three-pointers in the exhibition season, he was the only Minnesota player to make more than one. Hollins could also play the small forward position.

Armelin has shown his scoring ability in spurts, as he did during the game against Augustana. He is an aggressive player who can hit outside shots as well as get to the basket. But head coach Tubby Smith would like to see more consistency from him--Armelin played well and took care of the ball in the second game, but turned it over four times the first game.

The final returning guard, Ahanmisi, is part of arguably the most interesting position battle on the team: the competition for minutes at point guard. The sophomore guard filled in at times last season after Nolen's injury, and on media day Smith said that "the returning players obviously have the upper hand." Ahanmisi is certainly not ruled out, but two newcomers--junior transfer Julian Welch and freshman Andre Hollins, Tennessee's 2011 Mr. Basketball--now appear to be the top candidates after playing more minutes during the exhibition season.

Welch missed the Bemidji State game with an ankle injury, but played 17 minutes and scored seven points--including a three--against Augustana. Hollins struggled shooting both nights (3-of-14 overall), but handed out seven assists with no turnovers in 27 minutes against BSU. He played 16 minutes on Monday. Welch's experience could give him the edge to start, but both could see significant minutes running the point.

No matter which of these guards ends up as the primary point guard--Welch, Andre Hollins, or Ahanmisi--any of them could also play shooting guard or "off guard." They can all hit outside shots, though Hollins has struggled during exhibition. Hollins (23.5 ppg as a high school senior) and Welch (19.0 ppg last year at Yuba CC) definitely have a scoring mentality, so they would be valuable whether or not they are bringing up the ball.

Another newcomer, Joe Coleman, is also a scorer. The freshman averaged 21.5 ppg, leading Hopkins to a state championship and earning the title of Mr. Basketball his senior year. His shot is not as smooth as some of the other guards, but he can get to the rim and score. The 6-4 Coleman could also play the small forward position because of his driving ability.

The Gophers also welcome walk-on Kendal Shell to the guard corps. As a senior, the Missouri native captained his team to its fourth conference title of his high school career.

The Gopher guards will need to both feed the ball to big men Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson, and make outside shots and drive to the hoop themselves to take pressure off the two seniors. All of them are in their first or second season at Minnesota, so it will be a learning process, but they have the tools to become a very talented backcourt.

Minnesota-Wisconsin Rivalry

Minnesota and Wisconsin meet this weekend on the ice in Madison, but the schools are also facing one another in football in Minneapolis. In addition, the Vikings and Packers are playing in Green Bay on Monday Night Football. Yes, this truly is a Border Battle weekend and the Gophers are excited about it.

"We've got to uphold our end of the Border Battle," said coach Don Lucia. "There's the Packers and Vikings and certainly Gopher football and we have two games, so we want to make sure we do our part this weekend."

Redshirt sophomore Zach Budish has three points (2g-1a) in four career games against Wisconsin. He is looking forward to both games at the Kohl Center, but also the entire sporting weekend.

"I'm a big Vikings fan, so that's a big one for me Monday night," said Budish. "But Friday and Saturday we have to take care of business. It's a big Border Battle for Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend."

Senior goaltender Kent Patterson, who is 1-0-2 in his career against the Badgers with a 2.53 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, said the Kohl Center is one of his favorite places to play.

"It is a great atmosphere," said Patterson. "They have a great fan base, especially their student section. They are right behind me for two periods each game and for four periods on the weekend. It is great to see that atmosphere and just the rivalry itself is exciting."  

Rau Comes Up Big

Freshman Kyle Rau is 5-foot-8 and weighs 172 pounds. He is smallest player on the team, but has come up big for the Gophers in his first 10 collegiate games.  

Rau leads all freshmen and is tied for third nationally among all players with 15 points. His eight goals lead all freshmen and tie him for fifth among all players in the nation. His four game-winning goals are more than anybody else in the country.

The true freshman has points in nine of 10 games this year, including points in his last eight. Rau was named the national rookie of the month for October.

A lot of people outside of the program may be surprised at his instant success, but his coaches and teammates are not.

"He's going to score," said Lucia. "He's scored all his life. Guys have that dirty rotten habit of scoring goals and he's got it. It's a good habit to have. He knows where to go, he finds empty ice, and the puck seems to follow him. I watched him a lot, even since peewees and bantams growing up, and that competitive nature has always been there."

Rau has played on the top line with sophomore center Nick Bjugstad and redshirt sophomore right wing Zach Budish.

"It's kind of weird that I'm the oldest guy on the line and I'm only a redshirt sophomore," said Budish. "It's a lot of fun playing with both of them. Kyle knows where to go, as you can see. He scores goals every weekend and he gets in the right spot.

"I knew he was going to adjust well to college and I think he's exceeded expectations through the first ten games of the season and I expect him to continue that. He's very fun to play with. He skates well and does the little things that people don't notice. He blocks shots, he finishes his checks, he's good defensively, and he's got a good all-around game."

Lucia said he knew right away that he wanted to experiment with Rau on the top line with the larger Bjugstad (six-foot-five) and Budish (six-foot-three).

"Right from the get-go, I thought of putting him with Nick and Budish," said Lucia. "That would be a nice combination. With Zach coming back there's some size there. We didn't want Kyle, even though he's been a center his whole life, to play center as a freshman. We thought it'd be easier for him."

Rau certainly has made it look easy.

"It's a blast coming to the rink every day," said Rau. "My line has made the adjustment to college hockey so much easier being with Bjugstad and Budish. They're both amazing players. The guys are awesome. They've made the transition really easy because they're just great guys. It's just a blast. I never thought it would be this much fun."

Patterson Ties Stauber

Kent Patterson posted his fifth shutout of the season in a 2-0 win against North Dakota last Friday. It came in the ninth game of the year and tied Robb Stauber for the most in one season by a Gopher.

"I have not talked to Robb yet, but he was one of my role models and mentors growing up," said Patterson, who is 9-1-0 on the year with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. "Robb was a great goaltender when he was here and he probably still is a great goaltender when he puts on the pads."

Stauber posted five shutouts during the 1987-88 season, which was the same year he won the Hobey Baker Award. Stauber started all 44 games that year.

Patterson, who did not have a shutout before this season, is quick to credit his teammates for helping him keep the puck out of the net.

"Guys have been finding their roles and playing into those roles and we have been playing as a team," he said. "You saw that last weekend. Guys were blocking shots and willing to do the hard things to get the two victories. Our defense has been letting me see shots and for the most part they have been taking care of the second shots and clearing pucks outs."

Lucia is quick to point out that Patterson had a pretty good junior year after he became the No. 1 goalie in early December. Patterson's .920 save percentage from last year ranks second all-time at Minnesota in a single season.

"He had a great season last year," said Lucia. "Let's not forget that he was a second-team all-WCHA goalie last year. His play in the second half helped us become a better team in the second half of last year. He's taken off where he's left off."

Condon Heads Home

Nate Condon is the only player on Minnesota's roster who is from Wisconsin. The sophomore center was recruited by the Badgers but picked the Gophers over his hometown school.

Many of Condon's family members went to school at Wisconsin, including his aunt, Kristi Austin, who played basketball for the Badgers from 1974-76. She was also recently named president of Wisconsin's W Club.

Last year, Condon scored at Wisconsin as the Gophers beat and tied Wisconsin in Madison.

"That felt great," said Condon. "I had probably 10 to 15 family members there and I got them to wear Gopher stuff, which was a task in itself. It's what I thought about since I came to Minnesota--scoring against Wisconsin. All of my aunts and uncles and cousins graduated from there."

Condon looks forward to this weekend more than any other because he gets to go home and play in front of friends and family.

"This is by far the road trip I look forward to the most--going back home and playing at the Kohl Center. I played at the Kohl Center countless times growing up at different levels. Not to mention a lot of my friends from high school go to Madison."

When asked how many of his family members would be at Kohl Center this week, Condon said zero. They all decided to make the trek to the Twin Cities and watch the football game between the Gophers and Badgers instead. 

Kessel Scores in USA's 8-0 Win Over Sweden

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Gopher sophomore Amanda Kessel helped Team USA to an 8-0 victory over Sweden in today's Four Nations Cup game. Kessel scored on the power play 16 and a half minutes into the second period to put the U.S. ahead 5-0. Kendall Coyne and Jillian Dempsey had assists on Kessel's goal.

Former Gopher Gigi Marvin (2006-09) had an assist on Kelli Stack's third-period goal to put Team USA up 6-0.

"It was a good start for us," said Katey Stone, head coach of the 2011 U.S. Women's National Team. "Our players kept it simple and moved the puck quickly. It's going to be that hardworking effort that makes a difference."

Both the U.S. and Sweden were scoreless in the first period, but Team USA took the lead on a goal less than three minutes into the second period. The Americans scored five goals in the second period and three in the third to bring the final tally to 8-0.

Kessel played on USA's second line with Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne. Gopher Jen Schoullis played on the fourth line with Julie Chu and Jillian Dempsey. Marvin was paired with Kacey Bellamy for the defense.

In earlier action, Gopher defenseman Mira Jalosuo and Team Finland lost to Canada 5-0. Jalosuo played with defensive partner Tea Villilä.

In tournament play tomorrow, the U.S and Canada face off at 8:30 a.m. central, while Finland plays Sweden at noon. Follow live stats here.

Gophers In the Pros - Week Nine

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Two former Gophers made appearances in the end zone for Chicago in their Monday night game against the Eagles.

Tight end Matt Spaeth caught a five-yard touchdown pass to score on the Bears' opening possession. It was his second touchdown of the season. Spaeth, primarily a blocker in the Bears' offense, had two receptions for 13 yards.

Chicago's second touchdown came from running back Marion Barber. His two-yard run gave the Bears a 17-10 lead at the half. Barber had nine rushing attempts for 31 yards along with an eight-yard reception. The Bears went on to beat Philadelphia 30-24. 

Here's a look at the performance of other Gophers in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League from this weekend: 

  • Eric Decker, wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, had three catches for 47 yards and one touchdown in the Broncos' 38-24 win over Carson Palmer and the Raiders. Decker's reception yards per game are up almost 40 yards from last season.
  • The Minnesota Vikings and cornerback Marcus Sherels had a bye this week. They play rival Green Bay next Monday night.
  • Dominique Barber, safety for the Houston Texans, is on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Texans beat the Browns 30-12.
  • New York Jets' wide receiver Logan Payne is also on injured reserve while he recovers from wrist surgery. New York beat the Buffalo Bills 27-11.
  • In addition to those who were on active rosters, three former Gopher players spent week nine of the NFL season on the practice squad for their respective teams. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford is on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Traye Simmons is with the San Diego Chargers, and last year's quarterback Adam Weber is with the Denver Broncos.
  • In the CFL, wide receiver Arland Bruce had five receptions for 57 yards in the BC Lions' victory on Saturday. Wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright remains on the Saskatchewan Roughriders' nine-game injured list.

Game Time with Grimm: Minnesota-Wisconsin Preview

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The voice of Gopher Football, Mike Grimm, gives fans five things to watch (and listen) for in Saturday's game against Wisconsin:

1. CONTINUED CONFIDENCE: The Gophers are a team that is gaining confidence and they need to continue to do things that help them grow. Even in last Saturday's loss you could see signs that things were starting to click for more and more Minnesota players.

2. STAY GRAY: Minnesota's MarQueis Gray threw for more yards against Michigan State than any signal caller this season. After taking a big step forward against Iowa, he took another step in the right direction in the loss at Michigan State. As I said in the preseason, this team will win games if Gray is making plays.

3. GOOD McKNIGHT: Da'Jon McKnight had a career game last week against the nation's top passing defense. It was an all-Big Ten type of performance. He got involved early and never looked back. Gray will have to dial in his top target early in this game Saturday.

4. DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: Wisconsin is tough to stop on offense. They have a downhill running game and a good intermediate passing attack that makes it difficult to slow down key on any one area. The Gopher defensive coaches will have to call up some great strategies, as they have the past two weeks, in order to contain the powerful Bucky offense.

5. CHIEF ENGINEER: There are a lot of moving parts with our game broadcast every Saturday. The man who keeps us on the air and pushing all the buttons is our chief engineer Dan Rowbatham. He has to monitor multiple locations, including pregame site, restaurant locations, the radio booth, the scoreboard desk, the sidelines, the locker room, and our broadcast studio. He is one of the top men in the business, so our sound is outstanding.

Get To to Know Your Gophers: Ryan Wynn

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KFAN's Justin Gaard sits down with Gopher football center Ryan Wynn to discuss video games (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), his musical abilities and the Wisconsin Badgers in "Get to Know Your Gophers."

Justin Gaard: "You had your 24th start this past weekend at Michigan State. Is it hard to believe you've started 24 games at the college level?"

Wynn: "It's definitely hard to believe, especially after missing a season with a back injury. Sometimes it feels like I haven't played that much, but when you say that it's like wow. That's like three football seasons in high school, that's crazy how many games I've gotten a chance to start, it's an honor."

Gaard: "This is Get to Know Your Gophers so we care about football a little bit, but we also care about your off the field endeavors. My sources tell me you're a piano player. Where did you start playing piano?"

Wynn: "I started playing the piano in first grade. I was taking lessons through my freshman year here. Football and school got a little hectic so I had to drop the lessons part, but I still know how to play, fortunately after all that time. I did that, and the nice thing about that is I can pick up and play guitar now and I did choir in high school as well. I have been very fortunate to be blessed with some musical talents there."

Gaard: "Is it hard to be a piano player when you're an offensive lineman? Because you guys have big hands, your fingers are huge, how do they fit on the keys?"

Wynn: "Actually big hands are great because I'm able to reach notes that a lot of piano players can't. My little sister plays piano too, she's a freshman, and she has the little fingers, but I can play the big chords and stuff. So I get more nervous when my hands get all smushed up during football practice now. Most guys don't take jammed fingers as a big deal, but I always get worried because I have to play the piano."

Gaard: "What's your song? What's the Ryan Wynn, go-to song?"

Wynn: "My favorite song would probably be the first classical piece I learned and that is Fur Elise by Beethoven, so anybody that's got a little bit of classical music background would know that one. It's probably my favorite one."

Alumni Corner: Rob McClanahan

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Go Gophers! Rob McClanahan
Go Gophers!
McClanahan had 108 points in 121 games at Minnesota and helped lead the Gophers to a national championship in the 1978-79 season.
Go Gophers!
Before Rob McClanahan became a starter on for the U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the famous "Miracle on Ice" game and went on to capture the country's first gold medal in hockey in 20 years, he skated for three years at the University of Minnesota. As a Gopher, the St. Paul-native recorded 108 points in 121 games and helped lead Minnesota to its third national championship in the 1978-79 season. McClanahan later played over 200 games in the NHL and scored 117 points. He recently took some time to look back on his hockey career and catch up with GopherSports.com.

GopherSports.com: What was your time like at Minnesota and what is your favorite memory from playing at the old Mariucci Arena?
Rob McClanahan: My time at Minnesota was great. The program was at the top and I was proud to be able to wear the M on my jersey.

My favorite memory from playing at the old Mariucci would be my first time walking into that locker room and seeing my name on a stall. Then walking up the stairs to play our first game in front of a packed house. That was cool!

GS: The campus has changed a lot since you went to the U and is still changing a lot even now. Where was your favorite place to eat on campus at the University of Minnesota?
RM: Stub & Herbs was our hangout. We had our pregame meals there and would go there after our Saturday night game.

GS: Which teams were your biggest rivals in college?

RM: Our biggest rivals were the same as they are today. Wisconsin and North Dakota.  We also had great games against Michigan.

GS: You played for one of the most legendary hockey coaches of all time in Herb Brooks. What was it like playing for him at Minnesota and was he any different when he coached you for the U.S. Olympic team?
RM: Playing for Herb required serious discipline and a thick skin. At the U we really didn't know where we stood from one day to the next. He would change lines on a dime so we were constantly on edge.
 
As far as the coaching differences between the U and Olympic team, it was like night and day. By the time we played on the Olympic team Herb had refined many of his training tactics. He no longer just skated us for conditioning and he was ahead of his time as far as interval training and dry-land training tactics. He also let us be far more creative offensively than while at the U.
 
The bottom line with Herb: he got his players to play at their highest level at the most important time. He knew how to win the big game.
 
GS: Assuming that winning the Gold Medal at the 1980 Olympics is at the top of the list, what is your second-favorite hockey memory?
RM: I have so many it's hard to pick just one. I was fortunate to play on many successful teams throughout my career. If I had to pick a second-favorite memory it would have to be the night of the selection to the US Olympic team. It was midnight and there were 84 players sitting in a room. I was one of 26 selected that evening and it validated that all my hard work had paid off.

GS: What did you think of the movie "Miracle"?
RM: I have seen the movie and I think it is very well done. Kurt Russell's portrayal of Herbie is terrific. The message sent is timeless.

GS: Do you think the Olympics should still use college-age players or do you like that they now use players from the NHL?
RM: Tough question to answer. I enjoy watching the best players in the world play against one another, but I also believe there is more passion when a team has the opportunity to grow together over an entire season. I change my mind on this almost daily.

GS: Who was the best player you ever played with or against?
RM: Wayne Gretzky.

GS: What have you been up to since you stopped playing the game?
RM: When I was playing in New York for the Rangers I worked two summers on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley. I've been in the investment business ever since I retired.

GS: To what extent do you follow Gopher hockey today? Do you still keep in touch with the players you played with at the U?
RM: I pay very close attention to Gopher Hockey. I stay in contact with a handful of former teammates and am as anxious as anyone to see them get the program back to where it belongs...on top!
Go Gophers! Rob McClanahan
Go Gophers!
McClanahan (back row, far left) was all smiles when the 1980 Miracle On Ice Olympic Team was honored at old Mariucci Arena.
 (photo courtesy of Jesse Rodriguez).
Go Gophers!

Daily Clips - Nov. 9

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Weekend Preview: Wisconsin (GopherSports.com)

Have you voted for Kent Patterson's mask yet? (Facebook)

News of Minnesota's No. 1 ranking crashed USCHO.com (Star Tribune)

Kevin Gorg chimes in on Gophers new ranking (FoxSportsNorth.com)

Some Gopher talk here (USCHO.com)

Keith Ballard feature story (Minnesota Daily)

Badgers prepare for clash with No. 1 Minnesota (The Daily Cardinal)

There is a reason it is called Minnesota Nice and not Wisconsin Nice (Madison.com)

Position Preview: Small Forwards

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The Golden Gopher men's basketball team opens its regular season against Bucknell this Friday, Nov. 11. During the final days before the opener, Gophersports.com will preview what to look for at different positions. The first installment (below) focuses on the centers/power forwards. Today the focus is on forwards, followed by the guards tomorrow.

As the returning starter at the small forward position, Rodney Williams Jr. will be important to the Gophers' success this year. During Minnesota's two exhibition games, the 6-7 junior appeared more confident than in the past. He scored 10 points and pulled down four rebounds in each of the two contests. Trevor Mbakwe was the only other Gopher to score in double figures in both games. Williams averaged 6.8 points per game last season.
Go Gophers! Rodney Williams
Go Gophers!
Williams is the veteran of the small forwards.
Go Gophers!

Head coach Tubby Smith said two areas in which he wanted Williams to improve during the offseason were aggressiveness and shooting. Williams, a career 51-percent free throw shooter, made his first nine free throws of the exhibition game. He ended up 4-for-9 in the Augustana game, so the extent of his shot transformation is yet to be determined. Reworking shooting mechanics is a difficult process. Even if he does not become a great shooter, Williams will have an impact if he can drive to the basket. That is where the strength and aggressiveness--and certainly confidence--will come into play.

While Williams will likely be more of a threat driving to the hoop, redshirt freshman Oto Osenieks is expected to score from the outside. He had limited looks during the exhibition games, missing one three-pointer against Bemidji State and making 1-of-2 triples against Augustana. At 6-8 like Williams, he could also grab some rebounds.

The Gophers also have a pair of players listed as guards who could also play small forward. Sophomore Austin Hollins and freshman Joe Coleman could play either small forward or shooting guard. Hollins has the better shot of the two, so he would likely play at the "two" spot if they were on the floor at the same time. Coleman, Minnesota's Mr. Basketball last season, averaged 21.5 ppg during Hopkins High School's state championship run. More about Hollins and Coleman will appear in the guards preview tomorrow.

As a junior and returning starter, Williams will need to step up and lead the less experienced players. With this young team especially, the Gophers need him more than ever to play well consistently. Once the newcomers get acclimated to the competition, they can help take some of the pressure off.

Kill: Wilson the "Difference" For Wisconsin

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Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill told the assembled Twin Cities media Tuesday that he knows exactly how good Wisconsin's running back, offensive line, receivers and defense are. He told the media about his good relationship with Badger head coach Bret Bielema. But he really gushed over Russell Wilson, the Wisconsin quarterback. 

Kill made it very clear that Wilson is the engine that makes the Badger offensive machine so potent. And it is potent - Wisconsin is the No. 4-ranked scoring offense (47.0 points per game) and the No. 9-ranked total offense in the nation (503.2 yards per game).

"It's a great pick up for the University of Wisconsin because that is the difference, I think, in their whole football team," Kill said of Wilson.  You can tell when they interview the young man how mature he is.  He's just a different    he and plays on a different level than anybody else in college football.  So he's special, no question about that.

"I know one thing ... they've got a lot of great players, but that guy right there has been the difference for the University of Wisconsin, no question," Kill added.

Meanwhile, Gopher signal-caller MarQueis Gray has played very well the past two weeks.

"If you're a golfer and you struggle, but then you hit some great shots and all of a sudden you start believing you can do it, all of a sudden you're playing pretty good," Kill said of Gray. "I think he's made some plays and had some success.  Once you have success, you build on that, and before long confidence is a great thing."

Saturday has the makings of a pretty good battle at quarterback. In the last two weeks, Gray has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 488 yards with four touchdowns. He has rushed for 133 yards and one score. Wilson is hitting at a 67.3 completion rate with 458 yards and five TDs over the past two games. The Badger QB has rushed for 76 yards and one score in his last two outings as well.

Much like what Kill said about the talent Wilson has around him in Madison, he was quick to spread the praise around when talking about his own quarterback. 

"Plus we've had some people around (MarQueis) make a few plays, and that helps also," Kill said. "It's a team thing.  Offensive line wise, even though we've had a different group start each week, they have been able to hang in there and allow him to do some things also."

Importance of Rivalry 
In his first year at the University of Minnesota, Kill was also asked on Tuesday if he understood what the rivalry with Wisconsin means to Gopher fans. Kill has been here less than a year, but he made it clear he is well aware how important Minnesota's rivalries are to the fanbase.

"I don't think there's any question I know about the rivalry," Kill said. "I know it means a ton to our fans.  I know it means a ton to our players and the state of Minnesota, and shoot, our coaches are competitive too.  We're right here on the border.  We understand recruiting and all that stuff.  So I tell you that to down play it or something like that, no. It's dang important to us. We understand that.  But we also understand who we're playing. We're going to have to play our guts out just like we did last week.  (We've) got to play hard."

Stephens to Be Honored
Saturday will also mark an on-campus celebration of the induction of former Gopher quarterback Sandy Stephens into the College Football Hall of Fame. The University of Minnesota and the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame will jointly honor the late Stephens with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute. Stephens, who passed away on June 6, 2000 at age 59, will be represented by his son Sandy Stephens III, his siblings - Barbara Stephens Foster, Ray Stephens and Joyce (Stephens) Bell - his nephew Lee Stephens, his niece Sharla Foster and long-time friend Otis Courtney.

The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program is a hallowed tradition that began with the inaugural class in 1951, and to this day the salutes remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee's Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee (or his representatives) returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. 

Playing for the Gophers from 1959 to 1961, Stephens became college football's first African-American quarterback to be named an All-American as he earned consensus First Team All-American accolades in 1961. That year, he finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting; claimed the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player; and set a school record for single-season quarterback rushing with 534 yards.

He led the Golden Gophers to their last national championship in 1960 and back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances. Following the 1961 season, he directed the club to its only Rose Bowl victory, a 21-3 victory over No. 16 UCLA, and his performance earned him the Most Valuable Player Award in the game. During his career, he completed 101 passes for 1,475 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 791 yards and 18 scores. The versatile star also registered nine career interceptions as a defensive back and returned 42 punts for 254 yards.

A member of Minnesota's All-Century Team, Stephens is one of just five Golden Gophers to have his jersey retired by the university. Uniontown, Pa., native is a member of the University of Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

2011 Four Nations Cup

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Four players with ties to the Golden Gophers are competing in the 2011 Four Nations Cup in Nykoping, Sweden, this week. Playing for Team USA are current Gophers Jen Schoullis and Amanda Kessel, as well as former Gopher Gigi Marvin (2006-09). Playing for Team Finland is current Gopher Mira Jalosuo.

Team USA's first game is Wednesday, Nov. 9 at noon central. Team Finland faces Canada tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. central. Live stats for each game are available here, click on "Women 4-Nations" for statistics.

Fans can follow Team USA in the tournament through the women's hockey blog on the USA Hockey website.

Daily Clips - Nov. 8

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Gophers No. 1 in both major polls (GopherSports.com)

Who would coach Lucia vote No. 1? (Star Tribune)

Minnesota climbs to No. 1 (USCHO.com)

Eaves looks ahead to Minnesota (UWBadgers.com)

Gophers complete sweep of North Dakota (Pioneer Press)

Gophers Ranked No. 1 In Both Polls

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Go Gophers! Kyle Rau
Go Gophers!
Minnesota is ranked No. 1 in both major polls.
Go Gophers!
Minnesota is the new No. 1 team in the country in the USCHO poll. News of the Gophers new ranking caused USCHO.com to momentarily crash. The Gophers started the season No. 19 but climbed to No. 1 after five weeks.

Minnesota also moved from No. 5 to No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. The Gophers began the season unranked in this poll.

The 9-1-0 Gophers last played a game ranked No. 1 on Nov. 29, 2008. They tied Michigan State 4-4 at home.

Minnesota swept rival North Dakota at home last weekend.

Date USCHO Rank USA Today Rank
Oct. 3
19
NR
Oct. 10
14
14
Oct. 17
8
10
Oct. 24
8
8
Oct. 31
5
5
Nov. 7
1
1

Daily Clips - Nov. 7

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Gophers remain near top in national stats (Star Tribune)

Taking a closer look at Minnesota (USCHO)

Rau leads Gophers against North Dakota (Scout.com)

Blog: Get to Know Brianna Mastey

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GopherSports.com recently sat down with senior guard Brianna Mastey to learn a little bit more about what she did over the summer, how she likes being a twin and her plans for life after graduation.

On what she did this summer
"The big thing I did this summer was my internship with the Lynx. It was very exciting. I got to spend my whole summer around basketball and around some great players, and I got to learn a lot about the game from players who've been around for a long time, like Seimone and Taj is a big veteran. I was able to go to their games, every game, work with them and just learn a lot about the game, so that was exciting."

On being a twin
"I love being a twin. You have someone by your side all the time. No matter what you want to do I can usually drag her along, but she's always there to talk to and I always have someone to do something with so it's great!"

On her plans after graduation
"I am actually hoping I'll get back to my internship with the Lynx. I had a great time time with that and I am also going to return to my YMCA job I had teaching basketball classes and hopefully getting more opportunities within the YMCA there, so those are the things I'm looking forward to."

Daily Clips - Nov. 6

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Videos of every Minnesota goal, post-game interviews, game recap and much more (GopherSports.com)

Minnesota's sweaters from last night (Facebook)

Feel-good weekend at Mariucci (Star Tribune)

Better late than never (ESPN 1500)

Gophers rally for sweep (Gopher Puck Live) and weekend thoughts (Gopher Puck Live)

Sweep was first against North Dakota in nearly six years (USCHO)

Holy Rau! (SBNation)

Rau scored game-winner (Minnesota Daily)

Thoughts on an eventful weekend at Mariucci (College Hockey News)

North Dakota's take on the game (Grand Forks Herald)

Observations from Minnesota's 3-2 win over North Dakota

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Battle Hymn of the Republic
Win a 3-2 win on Saturday night, the Gophers swept North Dakota at home for the first time at home in the regular season under head coach Don Lucia. Minnesota last swept UND at Mariucci Arena on March 8 and 9, 2002 in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and last did it in the regular season on Nov. 8 and 9 1996. Minnesota's last sweep overall against its archrival came on Dec. 9 and 10, 2006 in Grand Forks. It is the Gophers' fourth sweep of the season (second at home) in five series.

Fourth Line Does It Again
For the second straight night, Minnesota's fourth line made a difference on the scoresheet. After assisting on Tom Serratore's insurance goal on Friday, senior Nick Larson tied the game at two in the third period on Saturday. Freshman Travis Boyd assist on both goals. As usual, Serratore and his linemates brought a physical presence and energy to the Gopher lineup.

Small Freshmen Make a Big Difference
After missing the first game of the series, 5-foot-6 North Dakota freshman Rocco Grimaldi broke through for a his first collegiate goal in his fifth game of the season, giving UND a 2-1 lead in the second period. Not to be outdone, 5-foot-8 rookie Kyle Rau defended his HCA Freshman of the Month title by scoring the game-winning goal, his fourth winner of the 2011-12, with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Goaltenders' Duel
Kent Patterson didn't record his school record-breaking sixth shutout of the season on Saturday, but he did do enough to lead his team to victory, making some clutch saves on Brock Nelson and Corban Knight late in the third period. He finished the night with 17 saves.

After starting the year 2-3-1 with a 3.41 goals against average and a .843 save percentage, North Dakota goaltender Aaron Dell showed why he was named to the All-WCHA First Team last year. The junior netminder stopped 30 of 32 shots on Friday and 39 of 42 on Saturday (.932 save percentage on the weekend) and was one of the reasons UND had a chance to win late in the game on both nights.

Big Crowd, New Jerseys
Mariucci Arena was sold out for the second straight night on Saturday with 10,234 fans in attendance, the tenth-largest crowd at the arena since it was built in 1993. The Gophers also played in their new alternate white home jerseys for the first time on Saturday night in the win.

Blog: Another Step in Right Direction for Gophers

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By Michael Molde
GopherSports.com


Last week's win versus Iowa was a step in the right direction for head coach Jerry Kill's University of Minnesota football program. Today's 31-24 loss to #15/16 Michigan State on the road in East Lansing was another step forward, despite being on the short end of the score.

Sure, no football coach is going to accept a moral victory, and Kill, his staff, and players will not be okay with a defeat, no matter the opponent. But there's no denying the fact that the past two games have been proof that the Gophers are beginning to make progress after an 0-3 start in Big Ten play, and there can be some measure of satisfaction in that.

Go Gophers! Da'Jon McKnight
Go Gophers!
Da'Jon McKnight's 3 TDs led an inspired effort by the Gopher football team Saturday.
Go Gophers!
"They (MSU) are a very physical hard-nosed bunch, and it's very easy to see why they've won a lot of games here," Kill said. "We are working to improve our program and move it forward and I think we're doing some of that. I think we played hard today and gave everything we had; they just made eight or nine plays that we didn't and that was the difference. I'm proud of our kids and we just have to keep getting better and move forward."

Minnesota (2-7, 1-4) entered the game against one of the top defenses in the nation with a patchwork offensive line, but the Gophers went toe-to-toe with the heavily-favored Spartans all the way to the wire in front of 72,219 at Spartan Stadium. The Golden Gophers carried a 24-21 lead into the final quarter, and had chances to tie the score on their final two possessions, both of which advanced into MSU territory before faltering.

Led by junior quarterback MarQueis Gray, who played well for the second consecutive week, Minnesota amassed an impressive total of 415 offensive yards (295 passing, 120 rushing), the second-most allowed by Michigan State this season. The yardage total is even more noteworthy because it took place against a stout MSU defense that had entered the game allowing just 228.8 total yards per game and only 127.2 per game via the pass.

"They (the Spartans) have a great defense," Gray said. "They did a great job and are hyped up. On offense, we just tried to focus on one play at a time and I think we did that; we just didn't make enough plays to win the game."

Gray had his best day throwing the ball, as he recorded career-highs for completions (19), passing yards (295), and longest completion (64 yards), while tying his career-high with three TD passes. Gray also rushed 21 times to lead the Gophers with 71 yards on the ground, and he led the team on several time-consuming drives to keep the ball away from Michigan State's potent offense.

"He (Gray) played awfully well," Kill said. "I think at the end of the game he was physically exhausted and gave everything he had, but that's how you learn. There's a lot of pressure to play against that defense...I thought he played very well and I'm pleased with his progress."

For the game, Minnesota held the ball for 34 minutes and 28 seconds, and the Gophers had possession for at least half of all four quarters. But MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 296 yards and two TDs, including one with :05 left in the first half to give the Spartans a 21-17 edge at the break, and Le'Veon Bell rushed for 97 yards and the game-winning 35-yard TD run with 10:58 remaining to escape with the win.

Gray's top target was senior wide receiver Da'Jon McKnight, who also had a career day with a personal best for receiving yards (173), while tying his career-highs for receptions (nine) and TDs (three). McKnight, who caught 10 touchdowns in 2010, including three versus Penn State on Oct. 23, increased his career total to 15 touchdowns.

"He's (McKnight) a play maker, and we have to put the ball in playmakers' hands," Gray said. "He did a great job for us today and hopefully continues that for the rest of the season."

Minnesota's offensive line - with senior Chris Bunders at RT, redshirt freshman Zac Epping at RG, senior Ryan Wynn at C, redshirt freshman Caleb Bak at LG, and sophomore Ed Olson at LT - played exceptionally well. The unit allowed just two sacks against a team that had recorded 24 prior to today's game, giving Gray the necessary time to find open receivers or scramble for sizeable gains.

McKnight had the big day catching the ball, but Gray spread his passes around to six other targets, with four of those players having a reception of 20+ yards in the game.
"Everybody is just doing their job and making plays to help this team," Gray said. "(Last week's win versus Iowa) gave (us) a lot of confidence, and we know that we can play with anybody if we play for four quarters and do what we are supposed to do."

The Gophers will attempt to continue their positive progression when they face another big challenge next Saturday against arch-rival Wisconsin at TCF Bank Stadium. The game time for the Border Battle versus the Badgers will be announced early this week.

Daily Clips - Nov. 5

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Gophers blank North Dakota 2-0 - plus video, photos, analysis and much more! (GopherSports.com)

Patterson carries Gophers (FSN)

Patterson by the numbers (Star Tribune)

Clash ends with Minnesota win (Star Tribune) as Gophers keep rolling (Star Tribune)

Minnesota's defense shines in win (SBNation)

Post-game wrap (College Hockey News)

Patterson makes 24 saves against North Dakota (USCHO)

Minnesota 2, North Dakota 0 (Grand Forks Herald)

Gophers hot start continues (Gopher Puck Live)

Minnesota gets first shutout against North Dakota since 2004 (ESPN 1500)

Are we watching one of the last games between Minnesota and North Dakota? (ESPN 1500)

Observations from Minnesota's 2-0 win over North Dakota

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Patterson Perfect Again
Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson made 24 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, tying Robb Stauber's Gopher record set in 1987-88. Stauber won the Hobey Baker Award that season. Patterson, who also was the HCA Commissioners National Goaltender of the Month in October, became the third recorded goaltender in school history to post four shutouts in the same month, as well. Tonight marked Minnesota's first shutout against North Dakota since Oct. 23, 2004 (Kellen Briggs in a 6-0 win) and was the first UM shutout at Mariucci Arena against UND since Dec.12, 1993 (Jeff Moen in a 3-0 win). Last year, no goaltender in the nation had more than six blankings all season.

Fourth Line Effort Pays Off
The Gophers' fourth line of Tom Serratore, Travis Boyd, and Nick Larson often gives Minnesota momentum by hemming opponents in their own end, but on Friday, the trio gave the Gophers more. The lined tacked on the insurance goal that helped the team earn its eighth win of the year. Serratore scored five-hole on Aaron Dell off a pass from Larson (second assist to Boyd) to make it 2-0 with under nine minutes remaining.

Mariucci May Need a Bigger Penalty Box, More Seats
In front of a rocking crowd of 10,176, the largest at Mariucci Arena this season, Minnesota and North Dakota combined for 65 penalty minutes. At one point late the second period, UND had five players in the box and the Gophers had four. UM and Minnesota-Duluth racked up 72 PIM on Oct. 14 at Amsoil Arena, the most in a Gopher game this year.

Killing It
With 41 penalty minutes on the night, the Gophers were forced to kill seven penalties--and they did. The most challenging kill of the night started 30 seconds into the second period after Seth Ambroz took a contact-to-the-head major. That kill gave Minnesota enough momentum to take a 1-0 lead into the third period. Keeping opponents off the board was a struggle last year, but Minnesota has killed 42 of its 47 penalties (89.4 percent) to begin 2011-12.

Looking to Break out the Brooms
Tomorrow night, the Gophers will look for their first regular season sweep of North Dakota since Nov. 8 and 9, 1996. Minnesota swept UND at home on March 8 and 9, 2002 in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The last Gopher sweep of UND overall came on Dec. 9 and 10, 2005 in Grand Forks. UM took three of four points in from its biggest rival the last time UND visited on Jan. 15 and 16, 2010. Minnesota won the second game 5-1 after a 3-3 tie in the first game.

Position Preview: Centers and Power Forwards

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The Golden Gopher men's basketball team opens its regular season against Bucknell on Nov. 11. As that date approaches, Gophersports.com will preview what to look for at various positions. The first installment focuses on the centers/power forwards. Up next will be the small forwards, followed by the guards.

This season, Minnesota's entire senior class is concentrated in the center/power forward position. Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III, being the only two seniors on the squad, "are going to have to carry the load this year," according to head coach Tubby Smith.
Go Gophers! Trevor Mbakwe
Go Gophers!
Mbakwe is a preseason All-Big Ten selection.
Go Gophers!

Mbakwe certainly carried the load in 2010-11, leading the team in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg) while recording 19 double-doubles. He led the U.S. team in rebounding at the World University Games over the summer.

"He came back, and we talked about his consistency and trying to be a more complete player, the things he needs to work on, especially his free-throw shooting," Smith said. "I think that's something that he is still improving on."

Mbakwe led the Gophers with 17 points and 11 rebounds in their exhibition win over Bemidji State. That was to be expected from someone who earned so much preseason acclaim: Mbakwe has been named to the John R. Wooden Award watch list, the Lute Olson Preseason All-America Team, the preseason All-Big Ten First Team, among other honors.

"He's really trying to be more consistent in his efforts, playing both ends of the court," Smith said. "One of the things I think we had concerns about was just him staying out of foul trouble, making sure he's playing defense before his man gets the basketball, things like that, that they're going to make him a more complete player."

Sampson has also been working toward becoming a complete player. He worked out in Chicago over the summer with Michael Jordan's trainer.
 
"Ralph has improved each year," Smith said. "His stats have gone up each year, and I expect him to do the same this year. He's one of the top shot blockers in the league. His shooting was a little off last year, but he'll be a lot better this year. He needed to get the ball to the basket more, get to the free throw line, and he'll be fine."

Patterson, Rau National Players Of Month For October

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University of Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson, who posted a 7-1-0 record, a 1.74 goals-against average, a .939 saves percentage and a nation's best four shutouts in eight starts between the pipes, is the Hockey Commissioners' Association National Division I Player of the Month for October.

A 6-1, 196-pound senior from Plymouth, Minn., Patterson began the 2011-12 season with three straight home shutouts, blanking Sacred Heart twice (9-0 and 6-0 on Oct. 7 & 8) and
Vermont once (6-0 on Oct. 21). He then picked up his first road shutout on Oct. 28 with a 5-0 triumph at league rival Alaska Anchorage. A perfect 4-0-0 on the road, Patterson's seven
victory-month also includes a WCHA sweep at defending national champion Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 14-15 when he posted back-to-back, career-high, 46-save performances. Named WCHA co-Defensive Player of the Week twice in the month, he surrendered just nine even-strength goals in eight games, with five coming on the power-play.

Patterson's four shutouts in October make him the third recorded Minnesota goaltender to shutout an opponent more than three times in the same month by himself, joining Robb Stauber in 1988 and George Clausen in February of 1934. His four shutouts also are one shy of the UM season record of five, set by Stauber in 1987-88 when he won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Kyle Rau, a freshman forward at the University of Minnesota, is the choice as HCA National Rookie of the Month for October.

A 5-8, 172-pound freshman from Eden Prairie, Minn., Rau produced 13 scoring points (7g, 6a) in eight games in the month of October, notching at least one point in seven games. He had
six multiple-point games and scored at least one goal in six of those eight games.

Rau, who is the team's first line left wing, leads all freshmen nationally in both scoring and goals, has four power-play goals, three game-winners and is tied for the team lead with a +12 plus/minus rating. He was named the WCHA Rookie of the Month on Oct. 18 after helping the Golden Gophers to a road sweep over defending national champion Minnesota Duluth.

HCA Commissioners' Choice Awards • October, 2011

National Player of the Month
Kent Patterson, G, Minnesota, WCHA

National Rookie of the Month
Kyle Rau, F, Minnesota, WCHA

Honorable Mention Player of the Month
Bill Arnold, F, Boston College, HEA
Kyle De Laurell, F, Air Force, AHA
Jeremy Langlois, F, Quinnipiac, ECACH
Anders Lee, F, Notre Dame, CCHA

Honorable Mention Rookie of the Month
Cole Gunner, F, Air Force, AHA
Phil Di Giuseppe, F, Michigan, CCHA
Johnny Gaudreau, F, Boston College, HEA
Matthew Peca, F, Quinnipiac, ECACH

-- Release courtesy of Hockey Commissioners' Association

Q&A: Speaking of Sparty

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Each week here in the Golden Gopher Football blog, I chat with a beat writer or member of the media who covers the opponent and we publish that interview in a Q&A format here. This week, Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal was kind enough to give us a few minutes. Here's that interview ... 

GopherSports.com: What's the mood around the Spartan program this week after the way things went in Lincoln last Saturday?

Joe Rexrode: There's definitely some disappointment because the Spartans feel like they didn't give Nebraska their best shot, but they're now looking at November as a new start of sorts -- calling it a "playoff" to try to get to the Big Ten title game. They know they have to win out (while hoping Nebraska loses a game) to get there. 

GopherSports.com: What's your opinion on how Michigan State views this game? Does the win over Iowa grab their attention a bit more?

Joe Rexrode: I'm sure MSU coaches were pleased to see that result, because you can tell players an opponent is tough all you want, but now the coaches have evidence to show their players. The Spartans know how dangerous MarQueis Gray is (especially safety Isaiah Lewis, his former high school teammate), and I think they respect the Gophers' competitiveness.

GopherSports.com: Who/what has Michigan State's attention this week, when it comes to Minnesota?

Joe Rexrode: Gray, as I mentioned, along with Duane Bennett and Da'Jon McKnight. That's a good offensive skill trio. Gary Tinsley earned some mention as a linebacker who can make plays on that defense.

GopherSports.com: Who should Gopher fans who may not be familiar with all the Spartans' stars keep an eye on in this game?

Joe Rexrode: The obvious ones on offense are QB Kirk Cousins and WR B.J. Cunningham, but watch for TE Dion Sims and RB Le'Veon Bell as well. Bell started last week for Edwin Baker and has been MSU's best back in the past two weeks. On defense, OLB Denicos Allen has been a surprise star this year. And the aforementioned Lewis has two interception returns for touchdowns. Sophomore DE Will Gholston is an emerging star who had 15 tackles last week at Nebraska.

GopherSports.com: Are there any position matchups or game-within-a-game situations that you're particularly interested to see this week?

Joe Rexrode: I'm interested to watch Brandon Kirksey against MSU's interior offensive linemen. It will be interesting to see how MSU defends Gray, the Spartans have done well against mobile quarterbacks this season but he is much bigger and more physical than anyone they've faced. I will be watching to see if Minnesota gives safety help to bracket B.J. Cunningham all day, as Nebraska did with great success last week. That takes help away from the run defense, but the Huskers got away with it.

GopherSports.com: How does Michigan State win this game?

Joe Rexrode:  By coming with the proper emotion and focus after four tough and draining games. The Spartans need to rediscover their running game and continue with the stingy rush defense to put Gray in third-and-long situations.

GopherSports.com: How does Minnesota win this game?

Joe Rexrode: Emotion is important here, too. The Golden Gophers need to build on that Iowa win, not be satisfied with it. Gray is going to have to make some big plays in the passing game and Minnesota has to wind up with a big edge in special teams and in the final turnover tally.

Daily Clips - Nov. 4

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Haula leads the nation in scoring (Pioneer Press)

Five epic games between Minnesota and North Dakota (Star Tribune)

 View From North Dakota (GopherSports.com)

Minnesota-North Dakota is a series to watch (InsideCollegeHockey.com)

Minnesota faces biggest test so far (College Hockey News)

WCHA Power Rankings (College Hockey News)

This weekend in college hockey (Grand Forks Herald)

Gophers rediscover offense (Grand Forks Herald)

Are Minnesota-North Dakota games numbered? (Star Tribune)

Gophers are off to a good start (Hockey Wilderness)

Mark Bahr headed to the World Junior Championships (GopherSports.com)

Guest Entry: Looking Back at Iowa

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Occasionally here on the official Golden Gopher Football Blog, we'll feature guest contributors, including Mike Ricci, editor and webmaster of the football program's official site -- GoldenGopherGridiron.com.

It's been an interesting week or so around the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex for the Maroon and Gold. There was the excitement in the air regarding last weekend's matchup against the rival Iowa Hawkeyes. When game day arrived, I cannot tell you the emotions brewing in the Minnesota locker room. When the team arrived in the locker room after warm-ups, they were greeted by between 80-100 former players who proceeded to give the 2011 team a round of applause for a good 90 seconds until every player was back in the locker room.
Go Gophers! Stoudermire
Go Gophers!
For more on Gopher Football, visit GoldenGopherGridiron.com.
Go Gophers!

For a lot of the Gophers in their first season, especially those not from the Midwest, this was an opportunity for them to get a feeling about what the Minnesota-Iowa rivalry was really about and what it means to former players. Players paced nervously around, trying to stifle the nervous energy that was suffocating the entire room. In the center of it all was the trophy stand holding Floyd of Rosedale. The alumni crowded around the bronze pig, perhaps recounting their memories of beating the Hawkeyes.

Then Coach Kill made his way into the locker room. The first words out of his mouth might've seemed ordinary, but I couldn't help but analyze them while filming the pregame speech. He called everyone in the locker room together --- he didn't just encourage, he insisted that the alumni also crowd up as far as possible. They were just as much of a part of this moment as the current team.

By now maybe you've heard about the video Coach Kill showed the team moments before leaving for the field, a clip from 2002 when Iowa tore down the goalposts in the Metrodome. The anger and disdain for Iowa was obvious in the eyes of the former players (especially for those who were on the 2002 team) and the adrenaline pumped harder for the current players. Kill paced the room, narrating the video.

"Where I come from -- that's STEALING!... How can you let someone come into your house and take what belongs to you?!"

The video ended. The team assembled. It was game time.

Minnesota 22, Iowa 21.

When it was all said and done on Saturday, the stadium erupted and fans young and old began to spill out onto the field to celebrate. This was a victory for the state, not just the players or the school. The energy during the post game celebration was almost impossible to put into words. People were hugging random people -- I was hugged by at least five people I have never met (and I'm not exactly a George Clooney-type). There was a sense of relief among the fans. Beating Iowa last year wasn't a fluke... Beating Iowa this year was a statement.
Go Gophers! Mark Bahr
Go Gophers!
Mark Bahr was named Video Coordinator for the U.S. National Junior Team
Go Gophers!
USA Hockey today announced that Mark Bahr will serve as video coordinator for the U.S. National Junior Team that will compete at the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship from Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta.

Bahr is currently in his 17th season as the director of hockey operations for the University of Minnesota's men's ice hockey team. In that role, he handles all video responsibilities associated with the Golden Gophers, as well as travel and ticketing issues. The former Gophers hockey player graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in sports management.

- Courtesy of USA Hockey
Minnesota alum Lindsey Berg was named the team captain as USA Volleyball participates in the FIVB Women's World Cup to be held Nov. 4-18 in Nagano, Japan. The event is the first 2012 Olympic Games qualification event with the top three countries earning a ticket to London next summer. Team USA, led by Hugh McCutcheon, posted his full roster, which also includes Jennifer Tamas, the wife of Gopher assistant coach, Chris Tamas. Team USA will open the World Cup against Brazil on Nov. 4, Serbia on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 against Korea. Following a travel day Team USA will then competes against Kenya on Nov. 8 and Germany on Nov. 9.

The full USA Volleyball release with roster and information can be found here.

View From North Dakota

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The Gophers host rival North Dakota this weekend at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota leads the all-time series 140-128-14 and split with North Dakota last season. To find out a little bit more about one of Minnesota's biggest rivals we talked with Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman. You can follow Brad on Twitter here.
 
GS: Brad, you know North Dakota hockey almost as well as anyone. Can you give us a scouting report on this year's team?

BES: The Sioux lost 294 points off of last year's team and many players are trying to adjust to new roles. It was expected that UND's big, physical defensive corps and the goaltending of Aaron Dell would lead the team early in the season, but it hasn't played out that way. The Sioux rank 10th among WCHA teams in scoring defense. Expect that part to improve as the season goes along. They have some dynamic, speedy players up front that can score at any time in Danny Kristo and Rocco Grimaldi. Corban Knight is a solid all-around centerman who usually wins a large percentage of faceoffs. And guys like Carter Rowney, Derek Rodwell and Mario Lamoureux may not pack much of a scoring punch, but they typically find themselves on physical, grinding lines that try to wear out opponents.

GS: Who is one player that Gophers fans should pay attention to?

BES: Freshman defenseman Nick Mattson. It has been five years since Mattson has played a game in the Twin Cities. At that time, he was a blue liner for Chaska High School. He went on to play two years in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the U.S. Under-18 team and two years with Indiana in the USHL. Mattson graduated from high school in 2010 and played one extra year in the USHL and that year had made him ready to be an impact player right away. Behind Ben Blood, Mattson is UND's best offensive weapon from the blue line. He keeps it simple in his own zone and has potential to create highlight reel plays in the offensive zone. Watch for the spin move he sometimes uses to leave forecheckers behind.

GS: Finish this sentence for us, North Dakota will win if...

BES: ...it can shut out Minnesota's power play. The Gophers are scoring a ton of goals and the power play, converting at 35.9 percent, is a huge reason for it. Minnesota will surely score its share of goals this weekend, but if UND can force the Gophers to do it at five-on-five -- and make the Gophers execute perfectly to score -- it will go a long way in helping the Sioux come away with points.

Daily Clips - Nov. 3

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Gophers are excited about this weekend (Star Tribune)

Records don't matter in Minnesota-North Dakota rivalry (USCHO)

Gopher Hockey: Stories Behind the Masks (GopherSports.com)

Taylor Matson: "Getting ready for North Dakota -- I can't even put it into words" (Minnesota Daily)

Gophers talk North Dakota, playing at home and shutouts (GopherSports.com)

Minnesota-North Dakota among the best rivalries in college hockey (ESPN 1500)

Rivalry weekend (Grand Forks Herald)

North Dakota coming to town (Gopher Puck Live)

Gophers welcome North Dakota to Mariucci Arena (SBNation)

Kent Patterson and his mask make Uni Watch (uni-watch.com)

Q&A with Kent Patterson (GopherSports.com)

Phil Kessel knows it October was only October (Slam Sports)

Keith Ballard and the Canucks must be in Minnesota (Vancouver Sun and The Province)

Cade Fairchild and Jay Barriball participating in Movember (Peoria Journal Star)

Jacob Cepis scores again for Idaho (Idaho Press Tribune)


The Gophers met with the media today and talked about this week's upcoming games against rival North Dakota. They also talked about Kent Patterson's four shutouts and how it will be nice to play UND at home instead of on the road.
Go Gophers! Lucia
Go Gophers!
Don Lucia says the Gophers are ready for North Dakota this weekend.
Go Gophers!

Coach Don Lucia

"These are the kinds of weekends you want to play if you're an athlete. I've always told guys that you can judge your players and your team a lot in the big rivalry games because these are for men only. You sit back in these environments and you want to see who can perform. We're going to have some young guys out there in key situations and it's going to be interesting to see how they can perform. Same thing with North Dakota, they have a lot of young players this year, too."

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad

"We're excited about North Dakota coming in this weekend. They're going to bring everything they got, so we're going to have to be ready. North Dakota's always a good school, so we'll get to see where we're at."

Redshirt sophomore Zach Budish:

"We're excited to play North Dakota. It's always a battle when we play them. We're all looking forward to Friday and Saturday night. It should be a fun series and a good test for us. It'll be a tough game. They've got some big defensemen. Their top line of [Danny] Kristo, [Corban] Knight, and [Brock] Nelson are three very good players. That will probably be the best line we've played against early in the season. We have to contain them and use all four lines and six defensemen in our lineup to take away their time and space and use our depth to score some goals and play a solid 60 minutes.

"It's huge. It's North Dakota-Minnesota. There's not really much else to say. They won the regular season and the playoffs last year, so they're the team to beat right now in the league. We're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we'll keep out momentum going and take it into November."

Senior captain Taylor Matson:

"They're a huge rival of ours. We look for these games down the road on the schedule. It's something we look for and it's going to be wild here at home. Getting ready for North Dakota, I can't even put into words. It's just something when you're skating in warmups and you're looking over at them and you see the green.

Nice To Play At Home

Nine of the last 11 meetings between the Gophers and North Dakota have been in Grand Forks, N.D., including the last five.

The last time that the two rivals met at Mariucci Arena was Jan. 15-16, 2010. The teams tied the first night 3-3 and the Gophers won the second meeting 5-1.

"The way the schedule has worked the last few years a majority of the games have been in North Dakota," said coach Don Lucia. "I know our fans are going to be excited and our players are going to be, too. It's always a great rivalry, but we're looking forward to having some games at Mariucci with them."

Surprise Shutouts?

Goaltender Kent Patterson has recorded four shutouts in his first eight games this season as the Gophers are off to a 7-1-0 start. The senior, who did not have a collegiate shutout prior to this year, said that even he is surprised at the success he has had to begin the season.
 
"I have to say that I am quite surprised," said Patterson. "Prior to this year I did not have a shutout in my collegiate career and even going back to juniors I did not have four in the two years that I played so it is surprising."

Patterson, who has a 1.74 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage was quick to praise his teammates for his success this year.  

"The guys have been doing a great job blocking shots and we have been playing good overall team defense," he said. "No one person gets a shutout. Whenever there is a shutout it is a team shutout and the team gets credit for it."

The people who are not surprised about Patterson's early-season success this year are his teammates.

"He works hard every single day," said senior captain Taylor Matson. "Kent's always looking to get better and he's the backbone of our team. If he can keep doing what he's doing, he's going to be something special this year."

Alternate captain Zach Budish agreed.

"He took last year's momentum right into this year and started the year with two shutouts," said Budish. "He's been rolling and he's given us a chance to win every night and I think that's the biggest thing. We don't want him to have to make 40 saves every night, but he has the ability to do it, like you saw up in Duluth. He's a great goalie."

Patterson made a career-high 46 saves in back-to-back wins against defending national champion Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 14-15. 


Kyle Henderson: Get to Know Your Gophers

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In this installment of "Get to Know Your Gophers" with KFAN's Justin Gaard, the Gopher Radio Network sideline reporter sits down with Gopher football defensive back Kyle Henderson to compare Minnesota rivalry trophies, DII versus DI football and more.

Justin Gaard: Kyle, tell us a little about your journey. You started down in Mankato now here you are, you go from Boom-town to Dinkytown, how did that happen?

Kyle Henderson: You know, it's a long story but I'll make it short. I love Mankato and I really do appreciate the coaches there, but I just decided that I wanted to come back home and be a gopher. I'm from here, in Minneapolis, and it is always something I wanted to do, so I decided to take a risk, and I think it worked out in my favor.

Justin Gaard: Is there a bigger rivalry between Minnesota State Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth or Minnesota and Iowa?

Kyle Henderson: Oh it's a bigger rivalry between Minnesota and Iowa. I would have to say the Minnesota state rivalry would be St. Cloud, that's definitely their Wisconsin or Iowa you could say. They have the Travelling Toolkit as their trophy and that's a pretty big thing over there. We took that very serious when we played them (St. Cloud).

Justin Gaard: From going to a toolkit to a pig, an axe, and a jug, you probably made the right call, right?

Kyle Henderson: I am not going to try to diminish my old trophy by any means. You guys definitely have to keep that toolkit, for the Mavericks. It is really just a bigger stage. The axe and the pig, the Floyd, are very old traditional trophies that not very many guys get to say they can touch. We have the axe coming up; I've never been able to hold that, so that would be a great honor if I could. It's definitely just a bigger stage and effects more people, so it's a little bit nicer over here.

Justin Gaard: Talk about being on the field on Saturday when you guys know you're going to win. You've got Floyd of Rosedale right behind the bench, talk about that moment a little bit for us.

Kyle Henderson: That was a really great moment. You can't trade those moments for anything: the experience, the fans which stay by our side the whole game, and that really showed in the last few quarters of the game. But once we knew that we had won and we didn't have to go back into the locker room feeling like someone could have done something differently and just questioning ourselves, we actually got this win and it was a good win. I think it just felt great honestly. I felt great for me and felt great for my teammates. Hopefully we can carry that over to this next week.

Justin Gaard: And this next week we got Michigan State. I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I am going to bring a toolbox to East Lansing with me, if you guys get the win over the Spartans, I will give you the toolbox, deal?

Kyle Henderson: Deal. Make sure that it is maroon and gold for sure.

Justin Gaard: I think we can take care of that. Thanks to Kyle Henderson, senior defensive back. You can watch him this Saturday against Michigan State. Thanks for checking out the latest edition of Get to Know Your Gophers here on gophersports.com.

Michgian State Preview: Game Time with Grimm

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The Gopher Radio Network's Mike Grimm gives fans five things to watch (and listen) for in Saturday's game at Michigan State:

1. MOMENTUM: The Gophers will need to capitalize on the momentum and confidence gained in Saturday's stunning victory at home against Iowa. There weren't a lot of people who figured Minnesota would win that, but now that it has, take that momentum and move forward.

2. A TOUCH OF GRAY: Minnesota's MarQueis Gray may have taken a step forward as a leader and a quarterback in the win against Iowa. To lead two big fourth quarter TD drives can't help but give the talented signal caller confidence. He will have to play well on the road for the Gophers to have any chance against a really good Spartan team.

3. SPECIAL TEAMS AGAIN: There's no doubt special teams are becoming a way Minnesota can win games. The most important play of last week's victory was a perfectly-executed onside kick. Without it, the Gophers don't win. Minnesota will need another big play or two on special teams to win in East Lansing.

4. PASS RUSH: For the first time in awhile, the Gophers were able to get consistent pressure on a quarterback, and it resulted in a win against Iowa. They will need to do the same against Sparty's senior field general Kirk Cousins.

5. CHEAT SHEET: You see coaches with those play-calling cheat sheets on the sidelines all of the time. Well, this might be a little secret for some of you, but most radio announcers use their own cheat sheets, as well. Spotting boards and a good spotter are vital tools for me in the Gopher broadcast booth. David Leatherman is my spotter for home games. Hope you'll join us for the radio broadcast on the Gopher Radio Network presented by AlarmForce!

Morning Skate With Kent Patterson

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Senior goaltender Kent Patterson has been honored by the WCHA twice this year as the Defensive Player of the Week. Through eight games he is 7-1-0 and has a 1.74 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. We talked with Patterson and found out how he became a goalie and ask him about the perception that goalies are a little odd.
Go Gophers! Kent Patterson
Go Gophers!
Gophers goalie Kent Patterson.
Go Gophers!

GopherSports: How did you become a goalie?
Kent Patterson: It started back in mites when I first began to play hockey. Back then they had a bag of equipment and I put on the goalie gear one game and played. We won 3-0 so I was the guy who played goalie every game after that. I was hooked.

GS: Have you played anything else beside goalie?
KP: I played a little defense as well, but mostly I just played goalie. I was pretty good at it and enjoyed it. Defense was my second favorite position to play. My parents told me I was pretty good at goalie and the team always wanted me to play it as well so I figured I would go with it.

GS: What kind of save give you the biggest rush?
KP: Either a big glove save or making a big breakaway save. Any clutch save that gets the crowd going is probably the most exciting. It is always good to make that key save that you need for your team to win.

GS: How much communication is there in a game between you and your defensemen?
KP: There is a ton of communication. Whenever the puck is in the zone there has to be communication. It not only helps myself, but it helps the team help me with regards to getting the puck cleared out. There are a lot of things they cannot see, and I am able to help them out if a guy is sneaking back door or if somebody is moving and they do not see them moving. Communication is a huge part of playing goalie.

GS: A lot of people think goalies are weird...
KP: I can understand that. We have to have a different mindset than players. Instead of shooting the puck, we are getting the puck shot at us. I don't think a lot of people want to be in that position. It is different mentally and physically. We have to play the full 60 minutes of a game. The other players get to take some shifts off, but we have to be able to focus when we need to and to be able to find a mental zone where we can relax and then get ready again when play comes back down toward us.

GS: Where is the worst place to get hit by a puck?
KP: There are two spots. Either the collarbone or the knees are really bad. I have had a few problems in the past where I almost injured my knees and collarbone because pucks hit me there.

GS: You had an assist last year. Is that something you care about or is it something that just happens sometimes?  
KP: It is pretty exciting, but I kind of laugh about it more than anything. The one last year was against Wisconsin. I just kind of wrapped it around the boards. I think Cade Fairchild got it then and moved it ahead to Jacob Cepis who scored. It is always exciting to see that. Sometimes I try to play the puck up and give our guys a shot, but that only happens every couple of games.

GS: Tell us about your mask. Who does the design?
KP: My brother Kris helps a lot with the design. He is a really good artist and has always enjoyed watching me play. Whenever I ask him to design something for a mask he takes it seriously and gives me a bunch of designs and then I pick and choose which one I want.

GS: Tell us something about your mask that nobody knows about.
KP: You would have to look pretty close but on the back of my mask I have a cancer ribbon. I have known a lot of people who have been affected by cancer, including some close friends. Also, my coach growing up and my best friend's dad actually passed away this past year toward the end of the season. It was sad to see, but that is something that has been on my mask for the past year and it is on there again this year.

Daily Clips - Nov. 2

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Weekend Preview: North Dakota (GopherSports.com)

Wally Shaver previews the upcoming weekend and looks back at the sweep in Alaska (YouTube)

Kent Patterson honored by the WCHA (GopherSports.com)

Seth Helgeson thriving in junior year (Faribault Daily News)

Scouting report on Jake Hansen and Seth Ambroz (Fire The Cannon)

Minnesota players are off to a great start (Hockey's Future)

Phil Kessel is the first Maple Leaf to be named NHL's Player of the Month in 18 years (Toronto Sun)

The Thrill is on a pace to record 134 points this season (Toronto Sun)

Patterson Named WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week

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Go Gophers! Kent Patterson
Go Gophers!
Kent Patterson has four shutouts this year.
Go Gophers!
Goaltender Kent Patterson was named the Red Baron® WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week for Nov. 1. He shares the honor with goaltender Josh Robinson of Michigan Tech.

Patterson earned his fourth shutout of the season and first on the road in a 5-0 win at Alaska Anchorage last Friday. Patterson, who made 22 saves, was the first goaltender to shutout the Seawolves at home since Oct. 23, 2009.

For the weekend, Patterson stopped 48 of 49 shots (.979 save percentage) and the only goal he allowed was a power-play goal on Saturday that found the net after making its way through traffic. Patterson played a significant role in helping the Gophers become the first team to sweep the Seawolves at Sullivan Arena since Dec. 4-5, 2009. It was Minnesota's first sweep in Alaska since Feb. 2-3, 2007 (8-2 and 2-1 wins).

Patterson, who entered the season with zero career shutouts, now has four in eight games this year. He began the year with three straight home blankings (Gophers won their first three homes games by shutout for the first time since the 1928-29 season), beating Sacred Heart (twice) and Vermont. Through eight games, the senior is 7-1-0 and has a 1.74 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. One more shutout would tie Patterson with Robb Stauber for the most in one season. Stauber posted five shutouts during the 1987-88 season. Patterson is currently tied with Kellen Briggs (2003-04, 2004-05) and Jim Mattson (1952-53) for second in program history with four shutouts in a season.

In addition, Patterson and the Gophers posted four shutouts in the same month for only the sixth time in program history. The feat was last accomplished in February of 1988 and had not been done before that since January of 1939. Patterson became the third recorded Gopher goaltender to shutout an opponent more than three times in the same month by himself. Stauber did it in his Hobey Baker Award-winning season in 1988 and George Clausen pulled it off in February of 1934.

This is the second time this year that Patterson has been honored as the WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week (also week of Oct. 11). Kyle Rau was also named WCHA Rookie of the Week for Oct. 18.

Kill: Hard Work "Guarantees You A Darned Chance"

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Go Gophers! Coach Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Kill previewed Saturday's game at Michigan State Tuesday.
Go Gophers!

Head coach Jerry Kill said his team learned a valuable lesson in Saturday's come-from-behind victory over Iowa.

Since he took over the program, Kill has been constantly talking to his team about effort, intensity, working hard, not taking plays off, etc. For instance, prior to the game against North Dakota State back in September, Kill said the Bison were a "football team that plays tremendously hard. They do not take plays off. That's something we can learn from here at the University of Minnesota."

It looks like that message sunk in vs. the Hawkeyes.

"I think the kids, no matter who it was ... they played hard," Kill said during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon. "As I told them at the end of the game, playing hard doesn't promise you a victory, but it guarantees you a darned chance and this is what we've been trying to tell you. Everybody has got to play hard."

Now, the key will be to keep or improve upon that level of intensity when the Gophers go on the road to face a nationally-ranked Michigan State squad. The Spartans are Nos. 15 and 16 in the two major college football rankings and are coming off back-to-back emotional contests. MSU miraculously defeated Wisconsin on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game two weeks ago. The Spartans then went to Lincoln, Neb. with a chance to grab control of the Legends Division race and were handed a 24-3 setback to the Huskers.

"We're going to play a great, great football team, a tremendous defensive football team," Kill said. "I think their (defense is) No. 2 in the country right now, and rightfully so.  Very, very, very athletic, and we have our work cut out for us.  It will be a great challenge for our football team. (Michigan State is) a very, very physical football team. It's not a good time to play them. I can tell you that.  They'll be ready to play on Saturday."

Coach Kill said last week's victory over Iowa should certainly give the Gophers some confidence as they travel to East Lansing to face the Spartans. He's hoping that his team will have a positive mental mindset Saturday and that the aforementioned lessons about hard work carry over. But playing against a very physical opponent after leaving it all on the field last week has the head coach concerned.

"Mentally, I think we're in much better shape than we were a week ago because you get a win," Kill said. "Physically, I worry about it because we expended a lot on the field, and we're not the biggest group in the world, so I worry about us a little bit physically right now.  Our injury report was pretty big (after last week's game)."

Although I can't say for certainty if either of these guys were on the official injury report Coach Kill receives from the medical staff, it wouldn't surprise me if Duane Bennett and Christyn Lewis were listed. But those two were among a number of Gophers who received a good amount of praise from Kill in his weekly talk with the media, partially for their mental and physical toughness.

"Christyn Lewis kind of sums it up," Kill said. "He's a buck 65 playing safety, tackling a 235-pound tailback who's got about a 10- or 12-yard running start at you, and he's sticking it in there every play. So I can tell you he's giving me everything he's got.  I told him he was the toughest 165 I've seen in a long time.  But that's a credit to him and the way he's playing, played hard."

"(Duane) ran physical," Kill added. "He got banged up a little bit and I hope he's going to be ready to go. Duane is a proud kid, and I think after he fumbled, it bothered him, and I think he played even harder after he fumbled the football to make up for the fumble.  He's a competitive kid.  He's a senior.  He's been through a lot.  Duane has been great to me since the day I walked in the door, been a very positive kid, and I was very happy for him."

Bennett, Lewis and the rest of the Gophers will travel to East Lansing on Friday. Kickoff for this week's game is set for 11 a.m. CT from Spartan Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the BTN with Matt Devlin and former Gopher head coach Glen Mason calling the action.

Emily West Featured in Star Tribune

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Rachel Blount's column in the Star Tribune features Emily West today, here's the link.

In other coverage from last weekend:

Minnesota Daily

USCHO.com weekend round up

Star Tribune: feature on former Gopher player and coach Natalie Darwitz

Examiner.com


Daily Clips - Nov. 1

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North Dakota next up for Minnesota (Star Tribune)

Gophers ranked No. 5 (Star Tribune)

Way too early for this headline (Daily Gopher)

Defense keyed the sweep in Alaska (ESPN 1500)

60 seconds (which is really 90) with Erik Johnson (Avs TV)

VIDEO: Gophers Inner Circle-Make A Beast of Yourself

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Happy November 1 Golden Gopher fans! Next Saturday is the Bison Open already! I just wanted to pass along another highlight video that was recently made featuring the team. Check it out below!

MAKE A BEAST OF YOURSELF!!

Visit www.theguillotineflo.com for more videos