Although the University of Minnesota baseball program has completed the season, a number of Gopher Baseball players will continue action throughout the summer months. In fact, some loaded up immediately after the annual end-of-the-year banquet and have already started their season. Four Gophers, Andy Henkemeyer, Ben Meyer, Tony Skjefte and Billy Soule will play for the St. Cloud Rox (Northwoods League), while DJ Snelten and Matt Halloran play for the Rochester Honkers. In all, 10 members will play within the NWL. Jordan Jess already collected a win for the Wisconsin Woodchucks on opening day (5/30/12).
Dan Olinger and Tom Windle will head to the Cape Cod League and the Brewster Whitecaps, while Kurt Schlangen will play with the Goldpanners in Alaska. Over 20 players will compete this summer. Here's a link to all the websites of the Gopher connections and their summer teams.
Since their freshman season, Alissa Koch and Dannie Skrove have dreamed of following in the footsteps of their fellow former University of Minnesota softball players, Briana Hassett and Shannon Stemper, and continuing their softball careers in the Netherlands. Now that the two recent grads have completed four memorable seasons in a Golden Gopher uniform, they are off to Europe for an experience of a lifetime to play for a team called Zuidvogels (don't ask me to pronounce that for you), which is the same team Hassett and Stemper played on during the summer of 2009.
"After hearing about Bri and Shannon's experience, Alissa and I made a promise to one another that we would do the same thing after our senior seasons," said Skrove. "Our four years as a Gopher flew by so fast, and it is a little nerve racking that it is time for us to fulfill our promises to one another. Aside from the nerves, we are really excited about this opportunity to not only continue playing softball but visit Europe."
Koch and Skrove began their journey last night as they hopped on a plane in Chicago for a seven and a half hour flight to Holland. In the coming weeks, the two will be moving in with a host family, which they will live with for their entire time abroad, and getting introduced to the Zuidvogels' clubhouse.
"The biggest challenge will be communicating with everyone, especially since we will be the only Americans on our team," Koch mentioned. "I bought some books to help me learn the language and basic terminology..."
"But all we really need to know is how to ask where the bathroom is," Skrove sarcastically jumped in to add.
The adventure that Koch and Skrove are embarking on right now is sure to be filled with a number of memorable experiences, which is why I have asked them to send updates throughout the summer. So keep your eye out for new posts from the two because about every 2-3 weeks the former Gophers will send me updates and pictures from Holland, and I will be posting them here.
Last week, four members of the Gopher women's hockey team made the 15-hour drive to Kyle, Saskatchewan, hometown of teammate Baylee Gillanders. Megan Bozek, Katie Frischmann, Rachael Bona and Rachel Ramsey spent a week hanging out at the Gillanders' family farm. Rachel Ramsey shared a few of her photos from the trip, which can be found on the team's Facebook page.
We'll keep you updated with the happenings of the team throughout the summer ... stay tuned!
Each Tuesday throughout the summer on the official Minnesota Gophers Facebook page (be sure to "like" us if you don't already!) we'll be highlighting a great moment in Gopher history to help populate our Facebook Timeline.
The Golden Gophers advanced to the 1990 Elite Eight by defeating UTEP, Northern Iowa, and Syracuse. Their memorable run ended in a hard-fought 93-91 loss to Georgia Tech. When Kevin Lynch's last-second three-point attempt missed, the final buzzer marked the end of a career for seniors Willie Burton, Richard Coffey, Melvin Newbern, Jim Shekenjanski, and Connell Lewis.
The most memorable member of the 1990 senior class was Burton. He led Minnesota with 35 points in the region final and remains the school record holder with 97 points in the 1990 Tournament and 171 career Tournament points. He led the Gophers in scoring for three seasons, and his career point total of 1,800 sits at No. 2 in Minnesota history.
Burton became a fan favorite at Williams Arena, known for his talent, passion, and the face mask he wore during the Gophers' 1989 Sweet 16 run. The face mask is on display in the T. Denny Sanford Athletics Hall of Fame at TCF Bank Stadium, and Burton's name will always be linked to two of the best seasons in Gopher history.
Amanda Zahui B. is the newest addition to the 2012-13 Golden Gopher roster, and though we know that she hails from Stockholm, Sweden and is one of the best basketball players in her country, the rookie shares 25 things fans may not know about her.
I HATE feet
Everytime I get hiccups, I have to say "Air Jordan"
I need to have too big basketball shoes
I hate scary movies
I love to scare people
I want at least 5 kids
Sometimes I have orange juice in my water bottle instead of water
I love slow jams
I love to write stuff
I have a crazy hiccup
I love to see my friends fall (not so they get hurt!)
I would love to be Spongebob's friend
I love old school music
Last time I walked into Footlocker, I started to cry
Fifteen former Gophers played in the NHL this year, combining for 421 points (136g-285a) in 842 regular-season games.
Phil Kessel led all former Gophers with 82 points (37g-45a) in 82 games. He was the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in the NHL with a career-high 82 points, and Kessel was the highest-scoring Gopher since Neal Broten had 85 points in the 1989-90 season. His 82 points also paced the 301 former college hockey players who suited up in an NHL game this year.
Kessel was not the only former Gopher who starred in the NHL this season. Blake Wheeler led the Jets in scoring in their first year back in Winnipeg with 64 points. Alex Goligoski's 30 points paced all Dallas' defensemen, while Erik Johnson had 26 points to lead all Colorado blueliners.
Second-year professional Nick Leddy, who played in all 82 games, was second among Chicago defensemen with 37 points, while Jordan Leopold's 24 points were also second among Bufflao defensemen. Paul Martin also finished second on his team for defensemen scoring with 27 points in Pittsburgh.
Leopold's teammate Thomas Vanek tallied 61 points this year, which was second on the team in Buffalo. Kyle Okposo was sixth in scoring with the New York Islanders with 45 points.
Keith Ballard also played in 47 games for Vancouver, while Jim O'Brien skated in 28 games for Ottawa and Jeff Taffe saw action in five games as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Three former Gophers--all defensemen--also made their NHL debut this year. Stu Bickel played in 51 regular-season games for the New York Rangers. Aaron Ness skated in nine games with the Islanders and Cade Fairchild skated in five games with the St. Louis Blues.
Fifteen former Gophers also played in 727 regular-season AHL games and they totaled 371 points (146g-225a). Ryan Potulny, who played for Hershey, tied for third in the AHL with 33 goals and he led the league with 19 power-play goals. Fairchild tied for fourth in the league with a +26 rating while playing in Peoria.
Though their playing careers as Gophers may be over, the lives of Minnesota women's basketball seniors Kiara Buford, Brianna Mastey, Nicole Mastey and Jackie Voigt are just beginning, as all four recently earned their degrees from the University of Minnesota.
Buford received her bachelor's degree in journalism in December, while Voigt earned her bachelor's degree in sports management in May 2011. Both Buford and Voigt are now working toward a Master's of Education in applied kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management.
Brianna Mastey earned her bachelor's degree in sport management, while her sister Nicole Mastey received her degree in recreation, park and leisure studies this month.
In their time at Minnesota, the quartet combined to earn 12 Academic All-Big Ten honors, two Big Ten Distinguished Scholar awards, two Big Ten Sportsmanship Awards and helped the team earn the Gladys Brooks Commitment to Academic Excellence Award.
Listing all of the academic accomplishments of these women does not even begin to credit them for everything they have contributed to the women's basketball program, the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities-area community, and we wish them the best of luck as they take on the world.
"Opportuity rarely knocks on your door. Knock rather on
opportunity's door if you ardently wish to enter." - B.C. Forbes
Former Gopher defensive lineman Garrett Brown hasn't just
been knocking on opportunity's door, he's been hammering on it with clenched
fists for the better part of two years now.
Brown signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted
free agent in the spring of 2010. He made a good impression and was signed to
the team's practice squad on Sept. 4. Three days later, the Chiefs released
him. Howerver, he was told he should have another job in no time.
But due to a league paperwork technicality, Brown wasn't allowed to sign
another NFL contract in 2010. To make matters worse, he didn't find out about the
issue until it was too late to take care of it for the 2010 season. Opportunities
failed to materialize in 2011 as well. But he never gave up.
Brown continued to
ring the bell, knock on the door, call, email, text and tweet at opportunity to crack the
door open just one more time.
The Connecticut native took advantage of some connections at
Yale and took part in the school's Pro Day this past winter. Brown performed
well enough that the San Diego Chargers asked him to come to their rookie
tryout camp. Following that tryout, the Chargers signed him to a one-year
contract on May 14.
"I really just kept my head on straight throughout those two
years, knowing that playing in the NFL was a dream of mine," Brown said. "I
constantly took into account what I was doing while I was at home as far as
training and things of that nature. So, when the time arose, I was ready to go.
I came in to San Diego in shape and ready to play, even after two years."
Amazingly, Brown was able to maintain the necessary size,
speed and strength to play in the NFL despite more than two years out of the
game. He worked as a personal trainer in New Haven, Conn. and ran the
off-season conditioning program at a local high school to pay the bills.
Through the entire two years, Brown kept a laser-like focus
on his goal.
"It really comes down to your determination," Brown said. "That's
the main point I want to get across. If you want to do something, you pretty much
have to go out and take it. No one's going to give you anything. I absolutely
understand that. You have to take everything you want and just be positive. I've
tried to stay as positive as can be when it comes to the NFL, treating it as a
business and making sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
His positive attitude and never-say-die attitude culminated
in the recent signing of a contract with the Chargers. But he also knows that
there is still plenty of work to do. There are roughly 90 players on the San
Diego roster right now. But on opening day, there will be just 53 on the active
"I couldn't be more grateful to this organization for
allowing me to come out here and show them that I'm absolutely ready to play
and make a difference on this team," Brown said. "We're in off-season training
right now. It's all gearing up right now. Everyone wants to be in the best
shape possible for OTAs (organized team activities) and that's going to be
another sign of who belongs and who doesn't. I just have to go out and perform
and get ready for training camp and the preseason."
GopherSports.com will be posting interviews with many of the
newest Gophers from the 2012 signing class throughout the remainder of the spring
and summer. The next Gopher to be featured in our series is Isaac Hayes, an
offensive lineman from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
Isaac Hayes, a high-school standout from St. Thomas Academy,
signed his letter of intent with the Gophers as an offensive lineman. An ESPN
Top150 recruit, Hayes earned all-state, all-conference, and all-metro honors
during his high school football career, and with the help of his leadership,
St. Thomas Academy accumulated a 20-2 record over the past two seasons.
Hayes has been touted for his ability to explode off the
ball and finish blocks, and, measuring in at 6-2 and 275 pounds, has the size
and athleticism characteristic of a college-level interior lineman. Rivals.com
and Scout.com ranked Hayes as a three-star recruit, while ESPN gave him four
Isaac Hayes: I
chose Minnesota because I will be able to play in front of family and friends,
and I like the coaches a lot. The Big Ten, I think, is one of the most
competitive conferences in the country, so I couldn't pass that up. I've been
watching the Gophers ever since I was little, and I want to get [the program]
did you know you wanted to be a Gopher, and what was the experience like when
you informed the coaches you'd be coming to Minnesota?
Isaac Hayes: I
knew that I wanted to be a Gopher when I went to a spring practice and it was a
really nice day outside in [TCF Bank] the stadium. I just realized that I
couldn't pass up the opportunity to play in my home state with these great
facilities. When I informed the coaches that I would be coming to Minnesota,
Coach Kill jumped on me, and he and Coach Limegrover were really excited.
are your thoughts on the new Gopher uniforms?
Isaac Hayes: I
like them a lot. I like all of the symbolism in them and I like that they look
a little bit old school.
are you most looking forward to when you move to campus?
Isaac Hayes: I'm
looking forward to getting closer to my teammates and starting to get to work.
idea what you'd like to major in?
Isaac Hayes: I
hope to major in some kind of engineering.
are your goals for next season?
Isaac Hayes: My
goals are to get my technique down and just work as hard as I can.
are your goals for your collegiate career at the U?
Isaac Hayes: I would
say my goals are to just become the best player that I can be. Also, I think
every college football player has the goal to play in the NFL.
you have a specific athlete you look up to?
Isaac Hayes: I
would say I look up to Matt Birk and the way that he plays.
music do you listen to before games to get pumped up?
Isaac Hayes: I
listen to mostly rap before games.
does it mean to you to be able to stay home and be a part of this program?
Isaac Hayes: It
means a lot. I've seen the Gophers when they have been a pretty good team, so I
want to get back to that and be on top of the Big Ten.
any of the new commits a big part of your decision to stay in-state?
Well, just looking at the talent that we have coming in and how many in-state
kids that we have was a big part of my decision.
definitely a fan favorite offensive line recruit. Who are you excited to work
with on the current line?
Isaac Hayes: I
played against Tommy Olson in high school, so I'm kind-of excited to be on his
side for the next few years. -Interview by Student Assistant Kirsten Sherwood
The late Mike Crupi is still honored by Minnesota with the annual Mike Crupi Most Determined Player award.
Two former Gophers, both with lasting legacies, were born on May 22.
Mike Crupi, who played in 54 games for Minnesota, was born May 22, 1946,
and later died in a tragic car accident on January 10, 1969. Crupi is
still honored today by Minnesota with the Mike Crupi Most Determined
Player award, which has been given our annually since the 1972-73
season. Senior captain Taylor Matson recently received the award for the
third consecutive year.
John Mayasich, who is regarded by many as the greatest college hockey player of all-time was born May 22, 1933. Mayasich, despite playing only 111 games at Minnesota from 1951-55, is the all-time program leader in points (298) and goals (144). He is second in assists with 154. His No. 8 is the only number retired in Minnesota's storied hockey history.
Mayasich, who never played in the then six-team NHL, would star on two U.S. Olympic teams. He scored three goals in a 4-1 win against Canada in the 1956 Olympics, which would end with the U.S. claiming the silver medal. The 4-1 win was Team USA's first-ever win against Canada in Olympic competition.
Mayasich also played in the Olympics in 1960 and helped the U.S. win it's first-ever gold medal in hockey. He had a hat trick in the first game against Czechoslovakia and the Americans would go 7-0 in the tournament beating the Soviet Union 3-2 in the championship game. In addition to it being Team USA's first gold medal in hockey, it was also the first time that they had beaten the Soviets in international competition.
John Mayasich is often regarded as the best college hockey player of all-time.
"John Mayasich brought college hockey to a new plateau. He was the Wayne Gretzky of his time, and if he were playing pro hockey today, he would simply be a bigger, stronger, back-checking Gretzky. The words to describe him haven't been invented. When I say he's the best, that's
totally inadequate." - John Mariucci (Read the complete story: John Mayasich and the Eveleth High School Hockey Dynasty)
"He had a great shot and was a tremendous playmaker and skater, but what set him apart was that he was the smartest hockey player I've been around. He was subtle, like a great chess master, and he made players around him better. It was like he saw the game in slow motion." - Herb Brooks (Read the complete story: The Quiet American)
"He was the best player I ever saw," - Jack McCartan (Read the complete story: Simply The Best)
"Mayasich was probably the best amateur hockey player in America." - Jack Riley (Read the complete story from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame)
Mayasich interviewed by NHL Video at the Vancouver Olympics (YouTube)
Members of the Minnesota women's basketball team took time out of their busy schedules recently to mentor girls at nearby Maplewood Middle School.
During the outing, nearly 100 middle school girls were split up into small groups, where the Golden Gophers were able to tell the individual stories of how they became involved in basketball and how they balance their school work, personal time and athletics.
"This event was great," guard Rachel Banham said. "We got to bond with a lot of young girls. It was really fun. I got a lot of questions about basketball and a lot of questions about school and everything they have to do to be successful. It was a great experience."
The experience is one of many that Minnesota women's basketball players were able to experience this season, as the Gophers concluded the 2011-12 academic year with the second-highest average of community service hours among the school's 23 athletic programs.
Heather (Dorniden) Kampf finished up her stellar Golden Gopher career in 2009, but she has remained a standout on the track. Her latest accomplishment was a win in the USA 1 Mile Road Championship in Minneapolis last night.
Kampf crossed the finish line on Nicollet Mall in four minutes, 36.90 seconds. She took the lead with about a quarter mile to go and won by almost three seconds. Watch RunnerSpace.com's video of the race below.
Former Gopher Kyle Okposo has two goals and one assist in seven IIHF World Championship games.
The 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship has reached the win-or-go-home stage. The quarterfinals are tomorrow and former Gophers Alex Goligoski and Kyle Okposo and Team USA will face defending champion Finland in Helsinki.
The Americans finished round-robin play with a 4-2-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, which put them in second place in their group. One of their four wins was a 5-0 triumph against Finland (5-0-0-2) on May, 13.
Goligoski, who had one assist against Finland, has five points in seven tournament games. He has one goal and four assists and is +6 (tied for second best on the team) during the annual tournament. He also has taken only one minor penalty.
Okposo has two goals and one assist in seven games and has not taken any penalties for Team USA.
Two other former Gophers competed in the championship, but their teams have been eliminated from play. Evan Kaufmann skated in seven games for Germany (2-0-0-5) and had one assist, while Matt DeMarchi totaled two goals and 14 penalty minutes in seven games for Italy (0-1-0-6). DeMarchi scored two of Italy's six goals in the tournament.
The last time Lindsay Whalen had played a game in the Sports Pavilion, she was a sophomore wearing a Golden Gophers jersey. It was 2002. Pluto was still a planet, the Oklahoma City Thunder was still the Seattle Supersonics, and no one yet owned an iPhone.
The Gopher women moved to Williams Arena in 2002. Whalen returned to the Sports Pavilion yesterday afternoon for an exhibition game between her Minnesota Lynx and the Chicago Sky. In the decade between her Pavilion appearances, Whalen has made a Final Four run, been traded from the Connecticut Sun to her hometown team, and won a WNBA Championship.
She had actually played an exhibition game in Williams Arena as a member of the Sun, but this was her first time back in the Pavilion, and her first time playing at the University of Minnesota as a member of the Lynx.
Although the game was in the Pavilion, the Lynx used the basketball locker room in Williams Arena. The hallway walls outside the locker room--as well walls and trophy cases within the locker room itself--bear images of Whalen and the rest of the Gophers' 2004 Final Four team. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said that Whalen took some ribbing from teammates for this.
It was all in good fun. Reeve also said that her team wanted to perform well for Whalen at her former home arena. The team delivered. The crowd of 4,102 saw the Lynx take a 40-25 lead into halftime and win by a final score of 82-61.
Whalen played 22 of 40 minutes. She scored nine points, distributed eight assists, and added five rebounds. A few of her scoring highlights included a crossover and step-back jumper, and an and-one layup to open the second half.
She also displayed her usual hustle and toughness, flying out of bounds and through some seats. But Reeve was not worried about the possibility of injury.
"Whay is a hockey player playing basketball," she said. "She takes all kinds of hits. It doesn't ever worry me. Occasionally she gets up a little slower, but I know she's going to get up."
Whalen is one of the big reasons the Lynx won the 2011 WNBA title. Virtually the entire roster from last season remains intact in 2012. The team has a shot to become the first back-to-back league champions since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. The Lynx will open their regular season on Sunday against the Phoenix Mercury.
For a final preseason tune-up on the road to a repeat, it's hard to imagine a better place for Whalen than the court that helped to launch her into the national spotlight. Ten years after her last college game in the Pavilion, and eight years after her Gopher finale, she still holds a special place Minnesota basketball fans' hearts.
The 2012-13 season will be Minnesota's 14th time as a participant in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but most of those games have been against just a couple different opponents. The Golden Gophers have faced Virginia four times, and this fall's matchup in Tallahassee will be their fourth Challenge duel against Florida State. Minnesota will look to snap its five-game road losing streak in the Challenge. Coincidentally, the Gophers' one road win in the Challenge came at Florida State.
With the announcement of the 2012 matchups today, GopherSports.com took a look back at the Gophers' Big Ten/ACC Challenge history against the Seminoles.
Bauer hit a key three-pointer late in the 2000 game.
In the second year of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Gophers took to the road. Coming off a loss to Georgetown in the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic championship, they had extra motivation to win this game. The Gophers came out firing early, shooting 51.9 percent in the first half. Minnesota led, 35-33, at half time. The hot shooting continued after the break--the Gophers hit six of seven three-pointers in the second half.
The game stayed close the whole way. The Gophers trailed by five with six minutes to go. They took a 63-62 lead on a Terrence Simmons three with under four to go. After the Seminoles tied it up again, Michael Bauer hit a three to reclaim the lead for good. Simmons led the Gophers with 19 points. The victory gave Minnesota a 2-0 record in the Challenge, and helped the Big Ten win.
November 30, 2004 Florida State 70, Minnesota 69 The Gophers led for more than 36 minutes after Vincent Grier (who led the Gophers with 23 points) hit a three for the team's first points. But Florida State cut into the lead and then ended the game on a 21-6 run. The visiting Seminoles led by four with 14 seconds to go, and then Aaron Robinson hit a three for the Gophers with six seconds left. After a missed Seminole free throw, the Gophers had one last desperation shot, but it did not fall.
November 27, 2007 Florida State 75, Minnesota 61 The visiting Gophers took a 22-18 lead in the first half before Florida State began to take control with a 12-2 run. The loss was the first of Tubby Smith's tenure at Minnesota. The Gopher freshman class provided some bright spots, with Blake Hoffarber scoring a team-high 12 points off the bench and Al Nolen making his first career start.
Todd Richards had 158 points as a Gopher in 167 games.
The Columbus Dispatch reported this morning that former Gopher standout Todd Richards will be named the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The club has since confirmed the hiring and will hold a press conference at 12 p.m. CT. Fans can watch the press conference here.
Richards has been on the Columbus staff for one year. He started last season as an assistant coach, but was then named interim head coach with 41 games remaining in the regular season.
According to the Dispatch, under Richards the Blue Jackets went 18-21-2, which included an 11-8-0 record after March 1 and wins in five of their last six games. Columbus was also 14-0 with Richards behind the bench when they had the lead after 40 minutes.
Richards played in 167 games for the Gophers from 1985-89 and served as captain during his senior season. He ranks first in Minnesota history for career points (158) and assists (128) by a defenseman. Among all Gopher players he is tied for 23rd in points (with Reggie Berg) and tied for fifth in assists (with John Pohl). His 30 career goals place him tied for eighth among Gopher blueliners (with Bill Baker). Richards' 43 helpers during his sophomore also rank third all-time in single-season assists for a Minnesota defenseman.
This will be the second NHL head coaching stint for Richards, as he previously led the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11. He compiled a 77-71-16 record as the bench boss for the Wild. Richards also served as an assistant coach for San Jose during the 2008-09 season. He was also the head coach of the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton franchise from 2006-08 and was an assistant with the Milwaukee Admirals from 2002-06.
Minnesota baseball players are picking up publicity throughout hometown papers recently. The La Crosse, Wis., connection of Drew Ghelfi, Bobby Juan, Austin
Lubinsky, as well as assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere were featured
in the La Crosse Tribune this past weekend.
Kurt Schlangen chatted with his hometown paper, Albany Enterprise, talking Gopher baseball since playing with Albany back in 2008 (Subscription access is required to read the full article).
Gopher signed recruits continue to get in the news as they compete for their high school teams. Earlier this year, Connor Schaefbauer was named the
South Dakota's AA Basketball Player of the Year as well as well as a
first-team All-State selection.He was recently featured in an extensive interview through his hometown paper of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader as he is in his final season with O'Gorman.
Alec Crawford was recently named the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week on April 26th. So far this season, Crawford is 8-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings pitched. Allowing just 18 earned runs, he has scattered 52 hits so far this season.
Burnsville's Dan Motl was recently named a finalist for the Lions Male Amateur Athlete of the Year, which is determined by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Motl, along with Burnsville teammate Matt Stemper, and Gopher recruits Dalton Sawyer and Troy Traxler were named to Minnesota Baseball Hub's Players to Watch coming into the season.
Jake Hansen had seven points (5g-2a) in six playoff games for the Gophers.
Jake Hansen has had a busy couple of weeks. First, he helped lead Minnesota back to the Frozen Four and then he signed a professional contract and played in the final two games of the Springfield Falcons' season. After that he was back on campus and back in class to finish up his senior year and prepare for graduation later this month. We caught up with Hansen to talk about this year and his hectic schedule.
GopherSports: Jake how would you describe your senior season?
Jake Hansen: This being my senior year, there was a lot of pressure to get back into the NCAA tournament. As soon as we lost last year we went to work. That was definitely the hardest we have worked in the summer. That is tough to do with (strength coach) Dal Dietz too, but he definitely made it tougher. It was a good season. Guys were in the best shape of their lives and we had a good team bond.
We were able to start off really hot. Obviously, you have some ups and downs during the season and we hit that streak around Christmas where we were not playing good hockey. During the middle of the season we were a .500 team, but we were able to finish the year strong.
To win the MacNaughton Cup was truly unbelievable. Then we had a tough loss to North Dakota in the Final Five where we blew a 3-0 lead, but we were able to come back the next week and beat a great team in Boston University and then we got a little bit of revenge on North Dakota and made it to the Frozen Four.
Obviously, our No. 1 goal was to win a national championship, but it is still a year to be proud of. To get to the Frozen Four is a great accomplishment and something we can look back on and be happy about. We did not win the championship, but it was still one heck of a year.
GS: You talked about pressure to get back into the NCAA tournament, but you guys did that and even more by advancing to the Frozen Four. Was there any sense of relief in doing that?
JH: There was a lot of pressure because our class took a lot of heat. The first three years a lot of guys did not play much. We had 12 or 13 guys here my freshman year and then it got down to seven after guys left early or they wanted an opportunity somewhere else. We took a lot of heat and there was a lot of pressure on us, but we ended up with a great group of seniors. There was pressure of us, but we just went to work every day and we tried to be good leaders. We just told the team over and over again that the feeling of not making it to the tournament is just brutal. Once our season started going and I realized how good we were, I had all the confidence in the world that we were going to make it to the tournament.
GS: You had a strong year individually as well, which seemed to be a little bit of a carryover from the second half of your junior season.
JH: I was happy with my year. I hit some streaks where the scoring was not there and struggled at times to get some goals, but was able to turn it on during the second half of the year and get some goals. The whole ordeal last year where Zach Budish got injured is something you never hope for, you never wish for, but I was able to get more ice time and play more because of that. This year, the chemistry between Erik Haula, Sam Warning and me was huge. I think we played our best hockey at the end of the year. Haula was on fire and Warning was playing well and had his confidence going. Our line was really clicking. For me, being on the penalty kill, the second line and the first power-play unit, getting that kind of ice time you are eventually going to produce. It also builds confidence in your own game.
GS: You also elevated your play at the end of the year, as you had five goals and two assists in six playoff games.
JH: Everyone talks about how you can do whatever you want during the season, but the biggest part of the year is the playoffs. That was something that I really wanted to do, was to play really well in the playoffs and help the team out as much as possible. I played really well toward the end of the year because our line was playing really well. I don't know if I was more determined in the playoffs, but I wanted us to get as far as we could in the tournament.
GS: Then after the Frozen Four, you signed your first professional contract. That had to be a nice feeling.
JH: Our team really was close this year. It was truly a family and we would do anything for each other. Then we lost to Boston College and you are heartbroken and that definitely killed us. But then in the next few days to be able to sign a contract was...well it was almost tough to handle because we had just lost and you still have that bitter taste in your mouth and wish you could play that game again. But to be able to sign a contract and go to play for Springfield was rewarding. Obviously, we wanted to win it all but to be able to go from the Frozen Four to signing a professional contract, you cannot ask for much better of a year than that.
GS: You played the final two games of the season with Springfield. What did you learn from those games?
JH: It was just crazy. I signed the contract on Wednesday and then Wednesday night I am flying out at 7 p.m. I got in at midnight and got to the rink the next day. There were two days left in the season and they were on the playoff bubble. I was really nervous because you do not want to step on anybody's toes. There are a lot of veterans on the team and you do not want to be that kid who comes in and irritates anyone. But they were a great group of guys and made me feel welcome. I was really nervous that first practice, but once I got in the game I felt comfortable out there and had my legs. I felt confident and felt I played well both games. We got two wins and that was something that was a great experience for me.
GS: You also picked up your first point as a professional, which was an assist. What can you tell us about that?
Hansen played in two games for the Springfield Falcons and recorded one assist after Minnesota's season ended.
JH: We were forechecking like crazy. The puck came out to Boone Jenner and he hit me and then I ended up sliding one through and he put it top shelf. It was a nice way to finish the two games there, with an assist and we were +2 that night. That was huge for me to know I can play at that level.
GS: You came back to campus after playing those two games and were back in class the next week. That had to be a little weird, right?
JH: It was weird because I went there Wednesday and played two games and was back home on Sunday night. It was weird being away from the guys for four days or whatever it was and they were all texting me. I enjoyed the experience in Springfield, but coming back and doing homework and being back in class on Tuesday was pretty weird. In Springfield, you are there to play hockey. You wake up, get some breakfast and then go to practice. Your main focus is hockey, so to come back after that and be in class again was a little weird.
GS: You will graduate this month, so it has been a pretty wild couple of weeks for you.
JH: Playing here four years and being able to get my degree is something my parents and I have always wanted. My dad has said that he cannot believe it is happening, but it is going to be amazing. If hockey does not work out, it is great to know that I will have my degree to fall back on.
GS: What are the plans for this summer?
JH: I am going to be training hard with Cal Dietz this summer. He will write a program for me and I will be in the weight room Monday through Friday. I plan on working out every day and skating every day, but I will make sure to get in a lot of golf as well.
After 41 years, 766 games (including 585 wins) and countless memories, Gopher Baseball said one final goodbye to historic Siebert Field Tuesday, May 1. Siebert Field's "Final Pitch" was a resounding success, with a capacity crowd of nearly 1,500 spectators braving potential thunderstorms to bid farewell to one of college baseball's true historic landmarks.
GopherSports.com was there to capture Siebert Field's final contest, fittingly, a 9-2 Gopher victory. Enjoy this music video "One Final Goodbye."
With the Final Pitch at Siebert Field, the Gophers were in the news last week in a few locations. Holding previews in the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and Minnesota Daily, the Gophers were also covered on the day of the event. With a live shot from WCCO to a MinnPost writeup on the field's history, the Gopher facility (please excuse the mispronunciation) made it on the Diamond Report through the Big Ten Network. Here's links to some of the action we found throughout the week:
The University of Minnesota softball team has had Game Two of their doubleheader against Purdue delayed until 6 p.m. tonight, due to thunderstorms in the area.
The Golden Gophers took Game One of the series 5-3 before the storm clouds entered Minneapolis, Minn. Back-to-back home runs by senior Dannie Skrove and freshman Erika Smyth in the fourht inning propelled the Maroon and Gold past the Boilermakers. Sophomore pitcher Sara Moulton shutdown the potent Purdue offense by striking out eight batter (six of which came in the first three innings) and allowed the same number of hits.
Stay up-to-date on all the information regarding today's rain delay and Gopher softball by visiting GopherSports.com, Facebook and Twitter (@GopherSoftball).
Kent Patterson (pictured) shared the John Mariucci Most Valuable Player award with Nick Bjugstad.
The University of Minnesota men's hockey team held its annual banquet at Jax Café in Minneapolis tonight. Eight different awards were handed out to eight different individuals and only one member of the team received two different awards. The awards were voted on by members of the team.
Senior Kent Patterson and sophomore Nick Bjugstad shared the John Mariucci Most Valuable Player award. This is only the second time in the award's history, which dates back to the 1955-56 season, that Minnesota has had co-MVPs. Goaltender Kellen Briggs and forward Danny Irmen split the honor after the 2004-05 season.
Both Patterson and Bjugstad were named Second-Team All-Americans and All-WCHA First Team this year. Patterson was the National Player of the Month for October and was a three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Bjugstad was the National Player of the Month for November and was recognized as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week once this year.
Patterson's 28 wins were the most by a Gopher goalie since Robb Stauber won 34 games in 1987-88. He won games against 10 different WCHA teams. He set a single-season school record and tied for the national lead in shutouts with seven this year. Patterson played in 43 games (tied for second all-time in one season) and played 2556:11 (second all-time in one season). His 2.32 goals-against average is third all-time in a single season, while his 966 saves rank fifth. He finished his career first in Minnesota history in save percentage (.913) and tied for first in goals-against average at 2.45 (Kellen Briggs also had a 2.45 career goals-against average in 132 games from 2003-07). Patterson's seven shutouts place him tied for third all-time in career shutouts.
Patterson also started the final 64 game of his career at Minnesota, dating back to his junior year. Starting on Dec. 4, 2010, he played a consecutive 3414:13 before not playing the final 20 minutes against Wisconsin on March 2, 2012. His minutes-played streak spanned 57 games and went through 170-regulation periods and parts of 12 overtime sessions.
Bjugstad led Minnesota with 25 goals and finished third on the team with 42 points, despite missing three games this year (two while he was playing for the United States in the World Junior Championship and one because of an injury). His 25 goals led Minnesota and placed him tied for fifth nationally and were the most by a Gopher since Ryan Potulny had 38 in during the 2005-06 season. Bjugstad recorded 21 of his points (9g-12a) in 16 road games and had a point in 13 of 16 road games, which included five multiple-point games. He tied for second on the team in power-play goals (8) and was third in plus-minus with a +21 rating. Bjugstad led the Gophers with a 17.2 shooting percentage and Minnesota was 20-6-1 when he recorded a point.
Kyle Rau received the Frank Pond Rookie of the Year award after recording 43 points in 40 games as a freshman.
Freshman forward Kyle Rau earned the Frank Pond Rookie of the Year award. Rau, who missed two games while playing for the United States in the World Junior Championship, was second on the team in points (43) and third on the team in goals (18) and assists (25). He led the team with nine power-play goals and finished second on the team with a +23 rating. Rau tallied six game-winning goals, which tied him with Trent Klatt (1991-92) for ninth all-time for most game-winning goals in a single season. Rau, who was named to All-WCHA Rookie Team, was also the national Rookie of the Month for October and a three-time WCHA Rookie of the Week. His 18 goals were the most by a Gopher freshman since the 2006-07 season (Jay Barriball had 20 and Kyle Okposo had 19) and his 43 points were the most by a Gopher freshman since the 2008-09 season when Jordan Schroeder had 45.
Sophomore forward Erik Haula was named the Tom Mohr Playoff MVP. Haula, who led Minnesota in scoring with 49 points (20g-29a) in 43 games this season, increased his level of play when the postseason started. The Pori, Finland, native had five goals and six assists in six postseason games as Minnesota advanced to the Frozen Four. Haula had at least one point in all six playoff games and had four points (2g-2a) in Game 2 of Minnesota's first round WCHA playoff win against Alaska Anchorage.
Senior captain Taylor Matson was named the Mike Crupi Most Determined Player and also received the Elwin "Doc" Romnes Leadership and Sportsmanship award. Matson, who coach Don Lucia has often referred to as the hardest-working player he has ever coached, has now received the Mike Crupi Most Determined Player award the last three seasons. He is the third player to receive the honor three times since it was first handed out after the 1972-73 season. Matson joins Scott Bell (1991-93 and 1994-1995) and John Pohl (1999-2002) as the only three-time winner of the award. Matson played in all 43 games this season and had 23 points (8g-15a).
Senior goaltender Jake Kremer received the Dr. V. George Nagobads Unsung Hero award. Kremer served as the team's third goalie for the last four years and in that timeframe nobody practiced or faced shots more than him. Kremer played in one game during his career, as he was in net for the final 44 seconds in a 7-3 win against Alaska Anchorage as Minnesota won Game 2 in the first round of the WCHA playoffs this year.
Sophomore Nate Condon earned the John Mayasich Outstanding Student-Athlete award. Condon is double majoring in Finance and Accounting and has a 3.61 grade-point average. On the ice, he played in all 43 games and set career highs in goals (11), assists (19) and points (30).
Junior Seth Helgeson received the Donald M. Clark Community Service Award for the third straight year. He joins Justin Johnson (2002-05) as the only three-time recipient of the award. Helgeson played in all 43 games this year and set career highs in goals (5), assists (9) and points (14).