February 2013 Archives

Honoring the Anniversary of the United States' First Olympic Gold

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Before the day is over, please join us in celebrating the 53rd anniversary of United States' gold medal performance at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif. On Feb. 28, 1960, the U.S. squad captured the nation's first-ever gold medal in hockey after an undefeated stretch against Sweden, Canada, the USSR and finally Czechoslovakia -- the four best teams in the world. 
Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!
The 1960 U.S. Olympic team featured a trio of Gopher alums in John Mayasich, Dick Meredith and Jack McCartan (pictured above). 

For more info on the United States' gold medal performance in 1960, read USA Hockey's write-up on the historic performance. 

Sneak Peek: Gophers vs. Penn State

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Go Gophers!

On Saturday, March 2nd, the Gophers will conclude the home schedule against Penn State at Williams Arena. In preparation for their only meeting with Penn State during the regular season, Gophersports.com' s beat writer Jeff Fett takes a look at the Nittany Lions. 

Head Coach: Patrick Chambers 

This Year's Big 10 Record: 1-14 

Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
The Gophers hope to capitalize on Tuesday's dramatic win over No. 1 Indiana during Senior Day on Saturday.
Go Gophers!

Top 5 Leading Scorers: D.J. Newbill-15.8 ppg, Jermaine Marshall-15.0 ppg, Sasa Borovnjak-6.9 ppg, Ross Travis-6.5 ppg, Brandon Taylor-5.7 ppg. 

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Ross Travis-7.2 rpg, D.J. Newbill-5.6 rpg, Jermaine Marshall-4.5 rpg, Brandon Taylor-3.5 rpg, Sasa Borovnjak-3.4 rpg. 

Notable wins: Michigan, Providence, Bucknell, Army 


Penn State has had its struggles, but a win over no. 4 ranked Michigan may have this team finally turning the corner. Head Coach Patrick Chambers has had a tough time in the Big Ten in his second season. At one point, Penn State lost 18 straight conference games dating back to last season, but the Nittany Lions will be coming in with some confidence after the first Big Ten win of the season. 

Penn State suffered a big blow just a few games into its season. All Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier ruptured his Achilles tendon in its loss to Akron. He's out for the year. He led Penn State last season in all of the major categories. He is a "Mr. Do Everything" for the Nittany Lions and is obviously missed.

Fortunately for Penn State, the backcourt is still their strength, even without Frazier. Sophomore D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Miss has stepped up in his absence and is leading the team in scoring and second in rebounds. Junior Jermaine Marshall has also upped his game and provided much needed leadership on the court. 

In a tough Big Ten conference where there are plenty of big men to throw the basketball to, that's where Penn State needs help. The tallest player playing consistent minutes is 6'9" junior Sasa Borovnjak. He's averaging six points and three rebounds a game. Chaska native Ross Travis leads this team in rebounding at 7.2 boards per game. 

Penn State has had its struggles this season, but a few more wins to end the year could build some confidence as the Nittany Lions look toward next season. 

Video Collection: Coach Smith on the Indiana Win

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Many Gopher Basketball fans are still on Cloud Nine after the Gophers' incredible upset of No. 1-ranked Indiana Tuesday at the Barn, Minnesota's first victory over a No. 1 team since 1989 (Illinois).

Gopher head coach Tubby Smith and his staff are busy preparing for Saturday's home final vs. Penn State, but Coach has taken some time to address the local media over the past couple of days to reflect on the victory. Above, GopherSports.com has exclusive video of Coach's post game address to his players in the locker room directly following the game -- it's not quite as hip-shaking as his post-Wisconsin speech, but still worth watching!

Coach also spoke with the media during a special availability on Wednesday. Watch highlights from that interview below:

In addition, the Big Ten Network was kind enough to share with us Coach Smith's post game on-court interview with Ann Carroll directly following the win. Take a look below: 

The Gophers are hard at work preparing for Senior Day on Saturday, when they end their home season against the Penn State Nittany Lions (tickets available by clicking here). PSU pulled off a court-storming upset of their own Wednesday against No. 4 Michigan.

Gophers Meet the Media: Denver

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The Gophers men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday afternoon ahead of their last series at Mariucci Arena of the regular season. Minnesota enters the weekend two points behind St. Cloud State for the top spot in the WCHA with four games to go.

This weeks opponent, the Denver Pioneers, will be just as hungry as the Gophers. Denver sits in a tie for the final home-ice position for the WCHA playoffs. The Pioneers have given the Gophers fits over the years, including last season's sweep at Magness Arena.

"We have had our issues scoring goals. They are always good defensively, so we have to do a better job of getting second-chance opportunities and do a better job of getting traffic in front of the goaltender," head coach Don Lucia said.

Saturday is Senior Night at Mariucci Arena. Seth Helgeson is the lone senior on this year's team, meaning he will be the only player out on the ice for the pregame ceremony, "It is going to be odd, but the flower budget is going to be down and it probably will only take 30 seconds, so it will not be a distraction to the guys," Helgeson said.

Helgeson reflected on his four years playing for Minnesota, "I wish I could be here another four years. It is nice being here for all four years. I have had a great group of guys the last four years. It has been awesome."

Helgeson is a steady player for the Maroon & Gold. His numbers are not flashy, but his physical presence on the ice and character off the ice is not missed by coaches and teammates. Here is a sampling of what they had to say about Helgeson.

Coach Lucia --"Seth has done a good job. He is great with community service, he does well in school, and he is a guy who is an anchor (on the blue line.) When you do not notice him, he is at his best."

Nate Schmidt - "Seth is a staple on our team. Off the rink, he is a great guy and teammate. Definitely a guy full of character. When he gets to the rink, he is all business. He is one of those rare guys that can flip a switch and be totally dialed in around the rink, which is really helpful for our young defensemen."

Ben Marshall -- "I have been his (defensive) partner this whole year. He is really stable. He lets me do anything out there on the ice. I like to be offensive, and he understands that. When I mess up, he is always back there to help out."

-Written by University of Minnesota student intern Josh Brennock




NHL: Martin Blasts Home His Fourth of the Year

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Paul Martin led all skaters in last night's Penguins/Panthers game with 27:33 of ice time and was a game-high +3. He also had this blast of a one-timer to bring Pittsburgh within a goal in an eventual 6-4 loss to Florida. 

Martin's four goals are the most he's had in his three years with the Penguins while the veteran needs just two more to match his career high (six in 2003-04 -- his rookie season with New Jersey). The former Gopher, who also had three hits and a blocked shot in the loss, has 15 points in 20 games this season. 


*Thomas Vanek assisted on both of Buffalo's goals in a 2-1 win over Tampa on Tuesday night. The Sabres forward currently ranks third in the NHL with 27 points this year. 

*Alex Goligoski had an assist in Dallas' 5-4 win over Columbus. The defenseman set up Brenden Morrow's fifth of the year to open the night's scoring for the Stars. 

Next Day Reaction: Gophers Stun No. 1 Indiana

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TICKETS: Watch the home finale vs. Penn State Saturday!

It was one of the most memorable games in recent Gopher basketball history -- Tubby Smith's squad took down No. 1-ranked Indiana last night in dramatic fashion, and it was followed by an epic court storming by the Maroon and Gold faithful at the Barn, all in front of a national TV audience on ESPN.

GopherSports.com is collecting links, videos, Tweets and more on last night's epic win! Be sure to watch the "super slow-mo" montage we put together above, and check out these as well:

- Of course, you have to watch the highlights from the game first (GopherSports.com): 

- Mbakwe's epic block of Cody Zeller (ESPN):

- TV call of court storming (ESPN):

- A few notable Tweets from last night:

-And finally, one of our favorite photos of the night via ESPN's Mike Tirico on Twitter

NHL: Phil Kessel Makes It Look Easy

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During the 2005-06 season, Phil Kessel racked up 51 points (18 goals, 33 assists) in 39 games and wowed college hockey crowds with spectacular goals like this: 

Seven years later...not a whole lot has changed. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward gave his team an early lead with his fourth goal of the year in an eventual 4-2 Toronto win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night. Through 20 games this season, Kessel has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) and is averaging a point a game over his last five appearances. Here's Kessel's goal to put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 in Monday's first period: 


*Nick Leddy had  a full stat sheet in Monday's 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton. In addition to an assist for the Chicago defenseman, Leddy also tallied four hits and two blocked shots as the former Gopher finished the game as  a plus-two. 

Hockey City Classic Jersey Auction Raises More Than $25,000

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A huge thank you to all who bid on Minnesota's commemorative jerseys from the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic.

A total of $25,260 was raised in this week's online auction of the game-worn jerseys. Proceeds from the auction benefited Defending the Blue Line. Thanks again for helping the Gophers raise money for a phenomenal cause! 

To put the number in perspective, the proceeds from this week's auction will cover the costs of over 50 military children for their entire youth hockey careers. 

Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Video: Warning Dangles His Way onto SportsCenter's Top 10

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In case you missed it last night, Sam Warning went end-to-end to put the Gophers up 3-2 with his seventh goal of the year and later made Sportscenter's Top 10 countdown. 

But it's better seen than described: 

Minnesota returns to action tonight at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network and 1500 ESPN. 

Help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of Minnesota's fifth national championship as the University of Minnesota honors the 2003 Golden Gopher hockey team during tonight's game against Minnesota Duluth.

The first 5,000 fans to arrive at tonight's game will receive commemorative posters of the 2003 national championship team with members of the title team signing autographs from 6:15-6:45 on the concourse of Mariucci Arena. The Gophers will also honor the team during the first intermission.

Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Minnesota captured its fifth NCAA title and second-straight championship with a 5-1 win over New Hampshire in the 2003 NCAA championship game at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. Minnesota posted a 28-8-9 overall record in 2002-03 and for the second-straight season, the Gophers went the entire season without suffering consecutive losses. In addition to the national championship, Minnesota also captured the Broadmoor Trophy as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five champions. Paul Martin captured Second Team All-America honors while Thomas Vanek was the nation's leading rookie scorer and finished one goal shy of John Mayasich's freshman goal record.

Saturday's series finale with the Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. at Mariucci Arena. The Big Ten Network and 1500 ESPN will broadcast the action. 

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 5 Minnesota Duluth 3

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The Gophers captured a 5-3 victory over visiting Minnesota Duluth tonight.


Weekend Starts with a Win

The Gophers claimed victory in their first game at Mariucci Arena this month. The win keeps the Gophers alive in the battle for the MacNaughton Cup. The two points did not come easy. The Bulldogs outshot the Gophers for most of the game and fought back from two separate deficits to tie the game at three. Austin Fairley tallied two goals for Duluth. In the end, the Gophers had too much firepower. They reversed the shot counter, for a final total of 34-29, and scored two late goals.

Game Winner From Rau

Kyle Rau broke a 3-3 tie with 6:35 remaining in the game. The play started with Nick Bjugstad winning a face off in the Duluth end and getting the puck back to Zach Budish. Zach's shot from the point deflected off of Bjugstad's skate and right to Kyle Rau. Rau made no mistake putting the puck away to give the Gophers a lead they would never relinquish. Kyle's goal proved to be the game winner. Erik Haula added an empty-net goal to seal the game with five seconds left.

 One Shot = One Goal

It took the Gophers over four minutes to register their first shot on goal, but they made it count. Nate Condon's shot snuck past Minnesota Duluth goalie Matt McNeely and crept just over the line. The goal came while the Bulldogs had the first three shots of the game and many of the best chances in the first period. The Gophers thought they had a second goal in the opening frame, but it was waived off for goalie interference. The first period ended with the Gophers leading 1-0.

Condon Ignites the Second Line

The coaches have switched up lines throughout the season to provide a spark. Tonight, Nate Condon was put back on the second line with Sam Warning and Erik Haula. Nate made an instant impact on the line tonight. He scored the Gophers first goal of the game and assisted on Sam Warning's goal in the second period. Sam's goal came at a particularly key time because Duluth evened the game less than two minutes earlier. Warning cut in off the wing, made a sweet move around one defender, and buried the puck behind McNeely. Erik Haula also scored two goals on the night.

Gophers Go For Sweep Tomorrow

Every game is critical for the Gophers for the remainder of the season if they are to recapture the MacNaughton Cup. Tomorrow's rematch with the struggling Bulldogs provides an excellent opportunity for the Gophers to keep the heat on the top teams in the WCHA. Duluth is winless in their last eight regular season games. At Wednesday's media availability, coaches and players stressed the importance of putting together a complete weekend and not just playing a strong first game.  Tomorrow's game will determine the success of the weekend for the Gophers.


Written by Communications Student intern Josh Brennock 

Gopher Teammate Trivia

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How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!

Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has junior Micaëlla Riché answering questions about Kionna Kellogg. Enjoy!

NHL: Wheeler Nets Two in Jets Win

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Thursday's Jets/Hurricanes game started and ended with a Blake Wheeler goal as the former Gopher scored twice in Winnipeg's 4-3 win including the eventual game winner. 

The game's No. 2 star, Wheeler has 13 points (six goals and seven assists) in 16 games this season including this wrist shot to put the Jets up early on Thursday. 


And why change a good thing for the eventual game winner? 



*Toronto's Phil Kessel tallied a pair of assists in Thursday's 3-1 win over Buffalo. 

*Jordan Schroeder picked up a helper in Vancouver's 4-3 win over Dallas. 

NHL: Martin Tallies Three Assists for Pittsburgh

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Much has been made this season of Paul Martin's revitalized play with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was no different. 

The former Gopher notched three assists in the game to end the night with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) this season. Martin also led the Penguins with 31 shifts last night as his role throughout the Penguins' game plan increases. The defenseman's third assist of the night helped Pittsburgh tie the game at 5-5 with just over two minutes to play in regulation (the Flyers would sneak in the game winner moments later, however). 

Here's all three of Martin's helpers from last night for your viewing pleasure. 


Gophers Meet the Media: Minnesota Duluth

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The Gophers met with the media Wednesday ahead of this weekend's showdown with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

Minnesota Duluth enters this weekend in the midst of a tailspin. Last Saturday's tie with Bemidji State represents the Bulldogs first point earned in seven league contests. Despite this, the Gophers are well aware of the dangers of playing in-state opponents.

"They have a lot of Minnesota kids, so it will be some of their biggest games of the year," forward Travis Boyd said. Head coach Don Lucia cautioned not to judge the Bulldogs on their record. "They have not scored on a consistent bases throughout their lineup, but their top end is very good. I think their team speed is as good as anybody."

With just three weeks left of the regular season, the Gophers still have work to do if they want to assure home-ice advantage in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. To do this, Minnesota must find consistency. "We have to put a good weekend together, and a good weekend is two nights, not just one," Boyd said. 

Captain Zach Budish said the key to a good weekend comes before gametime. "We have had good weeks of practice leading up to Friday games, and we have won the last couple of Friday games. Saturday, maybe we haven't had the same intensity coming out or preparation during the day."

Minnesota players and staff had a chance to reflect on their experience at the Hockey City Classic. Here are some thoughts:

Lucia - "I think it was a great experience for us. I think the players will remember it the rest of their lives. From our standpoint it was a positive experience, except for the score."

Budish -- "It was a once in a lifetime event. The people at the Hockey City Classic did a great job putting it on. It was a big stage for us and we had a blast. Obviously, coming out with a loss was not what we planned for."

Jake Parenteau -- "It was really cool, a once in a lifetime experience. I will cherish it for a long time."

Boyd -- "We were all in the moment. Playing on that stage is something no one has done on that big of a stage before."


Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Get to Know Maverick: Video Feature

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Watch this video feature on Gopher men's basketball guard Maverick Ahanmisi. The junior and Santa Clarita, Calif. native has provided a spark off the bench for the Gophers in 2012-13, playing in all 26 games (through Feb. 20) and shooting a team-best 42 percent from behind the three-point line.

Through Feb. 20, Ahanmisi is averaging 3.7 points and 9.9 minutes per game. His 16 three-pointers (in 38 attempts) has already set a career high.

Feature originally aired during "Gopher Basketball with Tubby Smith" which can be seen Fridays on Fox Sports North. Check your local listing for exact times and dates.

NHL: Kessel's "Wired" Game Winner

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Former Gopher and current Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel picked up the game winner last night in the team's 3-0 win at Florida. The right-handed winger has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last five games including last night's laser that had ESPN's John Buccigross tweeting the following: 
We'll let you judge for yourself. 

Sneak Peek: Gophers at #18/18 Ohio State

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Go Gophers!

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the Gophers will continue the Big Ten season against Ohio State in Columbus. In preparation for their only meeting with OSU during the regular season, GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett previewed the Buckeyes. 

Head Coach: Thad Matta 

2012-13 Record: 18-7 (8-5) 

Leading Scorers: Deshaun Thomas-20.2 ppg; Lenzelle Smith, Jr.-10.3 ppg; Aaron Craft-9.5 ppg; LaQuinton Ross-7.8 ppg; Sam Thompson-7.0 ppg.      

Leading Rebounders: Deshaun Thomas-6.2 rpg; Lenzelle Smith, Jr.-5.3 rpg; Evan Ravenel-4.6 rpg; Amir Williams-4.2 rpg; Aaron Craft-3.8 rpg. 

Notable wins: Michigan, Washington, Winthrop, Wisconsin 

Notable losses: Duke, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State, Illinois 


Ohio State is one of those scary young teams no one wants to face this time of year. 

The Buckeyes have only one senior in Evan Ravenel, and are led by junior guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. and junior power forward Deshaun Thomas. 

Last season, Jared Sullinger and William Buford led this team, but Thomas has stepped up this season and is shooting the lights out, averaging a conference-high 20.2 ppg. Craft is also one of the best defenders in the nation.

Along with Craft and Thomas, the Buckeyes are getting nice contributions this season from their sophomore class of Amir Williams, LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott. 

After a non-conference season where they beat respectable teams in Washington and Winthrop, the Buckeyes have taken care of business in the Big Ten this season. They've beat the teams they needed to in Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern, which are near the bottom of the standings, but they've also knocked off conference contenders in Michigan and Wisconsin too. 

Right now, the Buckeyes appear in safe position for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but the schedule still has some roadblocks. Such is life in the Big Ten Conference. 

NHL: Sunday's Pens/Sabres Game Filled with Gophers

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Sunday's matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres featured former Gophers Paul Martin, Thomas Vanek and Jordan Leopold -- also known as the NHL's leading scorer, a former Hobey Baker Award winner and a total of four national championships between the trio.

Martin, whose revitalized play this year was profiled last week by ESPN, picked up the game winner with his second goal of the year -- a slap shot blast with just over two minutes to play in Pittsburgh's eventual 4-3 win. 

Vanek also tallied a goal and an assist in the game to move to a league best 25 points and 12 goals this season. The Sabres alternate captain's redirection goal on Sunday was a thing of beauty. 

Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Don Lucia
The Don Lucia Radio Show continues tonight at the Beacon Public House on campus. If you haven't checked out the new restaurant yet, catch tonight's show live starting at 6 p.m. as Coach Lucia and Wally Shaver discuss all things surrounding Gopher hockey. Tonight's show also airs live on 1500 ESPN. 

Tonight, Lucia and Shaver recap an exciting weekend series against the Wisconsin Badgers including Sunday's outdoor game at Soldier Field. They'll also preview the upcoming home series against Minnesota-Duluth and take a look a the WCHA landscape as the playoffs get closer and closer. 

Fans can also participate in the show via social media by tweeting their questions using the hash tag #PrideonIce. We'll ask the best questions live on the air. 

The Beacon Public House offers great deals each week for the Don Lucia Radio Show including half price entrees and a happy hour special. The Beacon Public House is located in the new Commons Hotel on campus (615 Washington Avenue SE). 

Video: Pride on Ice -- Outdoors (Sneak Peek)

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The University of Minnesota men's hockey team is providing an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at this weekend's WCHA series with Wisconsin, culminating in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Chicago's Soldier Field -- Minnesota's first outdoor game of the modern era. Check out this sneak peek webisode of "Pride on Ice" -- titled Outdoors.

Watch the first sneak peek episode (titled Wheels Up) by clicking here.

Gopher Hockey in Chicago: Hockey City Classic

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Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Photo Gallery

It's finally here -- the Gophers have made it to Chicago for the 2013 Hockey City Classic.

Minnesota arrived Chicago this afternoon following Friday night's 3-2 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, and are ready for the main event: the first-ever Hockey City Classic outdoors at Soldier Field. Sunday's game will be Minnesota's first outdoor contest in the modern era.

The Gophers got to skate around on the rink at Soldier Field Saturday afternoon, and the smiles on players and coaches alike were hard to contain. 

"This was the most fun I've had at a practice in a long time," said Nate Condon after the Saturday's work out. The Gophers enjoyed a light skate around as the sun set in Chicago, beginning their practice around 4:45 and finishing under the Soldier Field lights a little before 6 p.m.

"It's definitely a dream come true," said Erik Haula. "It's a huge setting, and it's going to be fun... I can't to go out there tomorrow."

"It was pretty exciting to be out there and see what kind of stadium they have," said Seth Helgeson. "It was a pretty fun time out there."

Check out the photo gallery link above and stay tuned to GopherSports.com for another sneak peek look later tonight at our upcoming webisode series "Pride On Ice." To watch yesterday's teaser, click here.

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 3 Wisconsin 2

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The Gophers collected a 3-2 victory in Madison against the Badgers.

Gophers Grab Game One

The Gophers kicked off the weekend with a big win in Madison by a score of 3-2. Minnesota now has lost only once in their last six contests at the Kohl Center against the Badgers. The Gophers pulled themselves to within three points of league-leading St. Cloud State and even with second-place North Dakota in the WCHA standings. Both St. Cloud State and North Dakota are idle this weekend, so the Gophers can make up more ground on Sunday during the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field. 

Power Play was Key

In a close game, special teams is always going to play a key role. Minnesota came into the game with a league-best mark of 25.2% on the power play. The percentage will only get better. All three goals for the Gophers came on the power play. Sam Warning scored late in the first period to tie the game at one on a juicy rebound. Nick Bjugstad scored late in the second period to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead with a blast from the point that clicked off the point. The Gophers final goal came in the third period when Seth Ambroz battled for space on top of the crease and slipped the puck past just over the line.

Got the Goaltending

Adam Wilcox has provided the Gophers with excellent goaltending all season and tonight was no different. On the road, in a hostile environment, Adam Wilcox made 28 saves. Wilcox flashed his patented glove early and often tonight. He also made a number of huge saves when Wisconsin pulled their goalie late in the game to get an extra attacker. The Badgers have now scored two goals or less in four straight games against the Gophers. Adam Wilcox was responsible for the last three games.

First Period Shot Barrage

Minnesota registered 20 shots in the first period. The period was more wide open and featured more chances for both sides than a typical matchup with the Badgers. The most important Gopher shot of the period came from Sam Warning. He evened the game with a power-play goal late in the period, cashing in a rebound from a good Ben Marshall shot. The Gophers had five shots on the late power play alone. The second and third periods were tighter checking as the neutral zone became harder to navigate.

Hockey City Classic is Next

This week, Minnesota coaches and players all emphasized the importance of tonight's game. Now, with the battle in Madison over, everyone can turn their attention to Sunday's OfficeMax Hockey City Classic. The Gophers will bus down to Chicago before having a practice on Soldier Field at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. The Maroon & Gold will play their first outdoor game in the modern era against the Badgers at 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The game can be seen on BTN. 

Story Written by University of Minnesota Student Intern Josh Brennock

Video: Pride on Ice -- Wheels Up (Sneak Peek)

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The University of Minnesota men's hockey team is providing an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at this weekend's WCHA series with Wisconsin, culminating in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Chicago's Soldier Field -- Minnesota's first outdoor game of the modern era. Check out this sneak peek webisode of "Pride on Ice" -- titled Wheels Up

Gopher Hockey Road Trip Blog

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Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!
Despite Minnesota's first outdoor game of the modern era on Sunday at the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic, the Gophers started this weekend's road trip as if was just your standard Western Collegiate Hockey Association series. 

After an early Thursday practice at Mariucci Arena, Minnesota hopped on a bus bound for Madison. The Gophers' first stop in Wisconsin was the Kohl Center to drop off equipment and prepare for Saturday's morning skate. From there, the team arrived at the hotel for dinner (chili was the resounding favorite of the team while steak, salad and baked potatoes were also on the menu). It was an early night for the team as players and staff alike retired to their rooms to watch the Gopher men's basketball team pick up a win over Wisconsin. 

The Saturday schedule started early as it often does for the Gophers with team breakfast before departing for morning skate at the Kohl Center. The light skate coincided with support staff preparing for Friday's game while some members of the team also checked out Wisconsin's brand new LaBahn Center. The Gophers returned to the hotel following skate for one last team meeting to go over strategies and situations before the standard pre-game meal (with a bonus of fish this time of year). 

Right now, the team is either resting or preparing for tonight's series opener. The Gophers will head to the Kohl Center in a couple hours before the action gets started at 7 p.m.

While Minnesota's first 24 hours of this weekend's road trip have been standard for the team, the rest of the weekend will be anything but once tonight's game concludes. 

Reminder that tonight's game is on FOX Sports North and 1500 ESPN. 

Coach Kill, Wife Rebecca Talk Marriage On WCCO

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Coach Kill and his wife Rebecca recently sat down with WCCO's married couple of Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello to talk about what makes a successful marriage.

They were married at a young age and through the years, they have dealt with job issues, financial issues and health issues. But the duo says that everything they have been through has only brought them closer together.

Today is a day for flowers, chocolates, cards and dinner reservations, but there is only one thing that coach has to get Rebecca to make sure that today is a good day. If you ask us, we think he is getting off easy.

Gophers Meet the Media: Wisconsin

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The Gophers met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss this weekend's two-game battle with the Wisconsin Badgers. The two teams will tangle Friday in Madison before the team takes the bus ride to Chicago for Sunday's OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.

The Gophers enter the weekend five points behind idle St. Cloud State for the top spot in the standings, making every game vital. Head coach Don Lucia knows the team's focus has to be on Friday's matchup before they turn their attention to playing outdoors. "We are going to worry about the Chicago game on Saturday. We want to make sure we have a good week of practice and get ready to play Friday in Madison."

The importance of Friday's game has been made clear to the players. "It has been a emphasis all week that our goal was to come out ready on Friday night," defenseman Mark Alt said.

Forward Erik Haula spelled out why both games this weekend is so important. "With the standings so close and the two games in hand, we have to focus on Friday and go from there."

At the same time, it is only human nature to have an eye towards playing Sunday at Soldier Field. "We are really excited (for the game in Chicago.) It is going to be a fun weekend, "Alt said.

When the Gophers last met the Badgers in November, Wisconsin was off to very slow start. Mike Eaves' team has since found their grove, dropping only two of their last 14 games. "(Wisconsin) is winning some of the close games now. Our mindset has to be to try and win a 2-1 or 3-2 game," Lucia said. "We are going to have to do something on the power play because we know five-on-five it will be difficult to score." 

Friday's game at the Kohl Center can be seen at 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports North. Sunday's tilt at Soldier Field will be on BTN. Game time is 3:30 p.m.

-Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

NHL: Vanek is League's Early Surprise

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It's a special week for the Gopher hockey program with the Gophers taking on border rival Wisconsin on Friday in Madison before playing the Badgers in Minnesota's first outdoor game of the modern era on Sunday at Soldier Field as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic. 

We're kicking off the week tonight with the Don Lucia Radio Show on 1500 ESPN, broadcast live at 6 p.m. from the Beacon Public House on campus. 

Tonight, Coach Lucia and Wally Shaver preview the big weekend and look back at last weekend's split against St. Cloud State.

Fans can also participate in the show via social media by tweeting their questions using the hash tag #PrideonIce. We'll ask the best questions live on the air. 

The Beacon Public House offers great deals each week for the Don Lucia Radio Show including half price entrees and a happy hour special. The Beacon Public House is located in the new Commons Hotel on campus (615 Washington Avenue SE). 

NHL: ESPN Profiles Martin's Revitalized Play

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Former Gopher Paul Martin helped the University of Minnesota to back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003 before jumping to the NHL in 2003-04. 

Now in his third year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Martin has seen his play revitalized this season and the Elk River native is big reason the Penguins are one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division. 

But the process wasn't easy. 

ESPN.com featured Martin's impressive turnaround this weekend. Read Scott Burnside's full article below. 

Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

PITTSBURGH -- At the end of last season, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero invited defenseman Paul Martin into his office.

With Martin sitting across from him, Shero asked a simple question: Do you want out?

Was the abomination that was Martin's season so brutal that he would appreciate a new start somewhere else?

"I asked him if he wanted a trade," Shero told ESPN.com this week.

These are the moments that define a person, a career even. In some ways, they define a franchise too.

Martin, signed to a five-year, $25-million deal in the summer of 2010, could not have been blamed if he said, "Yes, get me the heck out of here."

Fans were certainly clamoring for just such a move throughout the season as the mistakes piled up and Martin's play worsened.

"He was embarrassed by his year," Shero said.

But Martin looked at his boss and insisted he wanted to stay. He told Shero he didn't want to take the easy way out. Moreover, Martin pledged to return this season a different player, the old player, the player that had made him one of the top free-agent defensemen on the market in 2010.

"He said, 'I do not want to be traded. I came here for a reason, and you signed me for a reason,'" Shero recalled Martin saying. "He said, 'If I do come back, you're going to see a different player.'"

So far, Martin has been good to his word.

"I basically told him I have a lot of pride in what I do," Martin told ESPN.com. "I came here for a reason. It wasn't just because of the money. [He had more lucrative offers.] I came here because I wanted to win a Stanley Cup."

Assistant coach Todd Reirden visited Martin at his offseason home in Minnesota during the summer to monitor the defenseman's workout regimen and discuss Martin's place with the team.

Physically, Martin put on 10 pounds to make himself more solid, while managing to increase his foot speed and mobility.

Reirden, who handles the Penguins' defensemen, and coach Dan Bylsmadecided to move Martin to the right side where he had played earlier in his career in New Jersey and pair him with rock-solid veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik.

The results have been remarkable.

Martin leads all Penguin skaters in average ice time at 25:28 a night. He and Orpik play against opposing teams' top lines every night, and have been the defensive anchors on a team that ranks in the top 10 in the NHL in goals allowed per game and penalty killing.

Through the Pens' first 12 games, Orpik and Martin combined for six minutes in penalties with Martin taking his first and only minor of the season in the third period of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Devils.

Martin has been on the ice for just seven even-strength goals in Pittsburgh's first 12 games.

"Paul's a good story," Shero said. "He's playing like the Paul Martin we signed and the player Paul Martin is."

Phil Bourque is a former Penguins defenseman who won two Stanley Cups with the team in the early 1990s and now is a radio analyst covering the Penguins. He describes Martin's 2011-12 season as "a train wreck."

Bourque figures there are a number of elements to Martin's renaissance. First, he is completely healthy, something that wasn't the case last season when Martin missed nine regular-season games and three playoff games to injury, Bourque said.

"I think they pretty much said to him, we don't care if you don't get a point all season," Bourque said. "And don't try and justify that $5 million salary and just be Paul Martin."

As expectations to provide offense diminished, Martin has actually contributed more regularly on the offensive side of things. On Thursday against Washington, with Kris Letangout of the lineup with an injury, Martin was a key part of a power-play unit that converted three of four chances during a five-goal outburst in the second period.

Martin has a goal and five assists this season.

"At first I didn't know how it was going to go," Martin said. "It's been great so far. Brooks is easy to play with. He's smart. I think he's underrated as a skater and a puck mover."


Reirden grins.

"Yeah, it was," he said.

In fact, the whole process was fraught with risk.

In taking Martin at his word, Shero dealt his defensive partner Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix at the draft. Then, by deciding not to just keep Martin but in effect ask him to do even more, the Penguins opened themselves to another season of defensive issues.

The bottom line is that few teams can afford to have a $5 million defenseman who has to be buried in the lineup because he cannot perform up to standards.

But part of Reirden's visit in the summer was to put all of this in front of Martin, to challenge him to revive his career.

"All the credit goes to Paul and [the] commitment he made this summer," Reirden told ESPN.com.

The coach sees a more aggressive, more assertive player who uses his speed and hockey smarts to thwart attacking forwards. He is winning more battles around the net and in the corners, and his attention to detail in terms of stick positioning is better, the coach said.

"His aggressiveness and confidence on the ice is at a level we haven't seen in a while," Reirden said. "He got off to a good start to the season and is building each game. Last year, things just started to snowball in the wrong direction."

More than his play, the coaching staff asked Martin to take on more of a mentorship role with the group of young defensemen the Penguins are grooming.

If Martin wasn't sure how this was all going to play out, neither was the coaching staff.

"I was going to give him the opportunity to succeed," Reirden said. "What he did with it was up to him."

Several analysts told ESPN.com they are withholding judgment on the Martin experiment and wonder whether he'll ever return to the promising player he was in New Jersey. But thus far the Penguins are ecstatic with the results.

As for Martin, he is as quiet and thoughtful a player as you are likely to meet in the league. Standing in the Pittsburgh dressing room, he is candid about the nightmare that was last season and thankful for a second chance to make things right.

A former standout at the University of Minnesota, Martin never played a single game in the minors, making the jump from collegiate hockey to the NHL after the Devils selected him with the 62nd overall pick in 2000. The 31-year-old was a shoo-in to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic team until he suffered a broken forearm and missed the tournament.

If he continues to play at his current level, he will definitely be back on the U.S. Olympic radar for the Sochi Games that begin a year from now in Russia.

"It was definitely difficult. I definitely wasn't happy with the way last year went," he said.

In some ways, it is a classic case of a player trying to be something he wasn't, an example of how a player becomes defined by his contract and pushes to do more to justify the money. Instead, the more Martin tried to do, the less he accomplished. And the less he accomplished, the less confidence he had to make the plays that had at one point been second nature to him.

The fact that fans and sports talk shows began taking Martin to task for his play exacerbated the situation.

Even if you don't read or listen, you know what people are saying about you.

"You don't want to believe it," Martin said. "You're so hard on yourself. I wasn't satisfied with the way I was playing. You're frustrated. You expect more of yourself."

He questioned how he was preparing and what he was doing. In the offseason, Martin went about addressing those issues.

"I don't want to make excuses for anything," he said. "For me, it was a great learning experience. I think it will help make me a better hockey player and make me a better person."

NHL: Schroeder Nets First Two NHL Goals in Canucks' Win

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We've been following Jordan Schroeder's first year in the NHL very closely -- catching his first career game, his first point in the NHL and even his shootout winner earlier this year. Last night, the former Gopher officially tallied his first NHL goal (and then added another) in Vancouver's 5-1 win over Calgary. 

Here's Schroeders' first NHL goal -- the eventual game winner on Saturday night for the Canucks: 

Schroeder and former Gopher defenseman Keith Ballard both finished the game as plus-ones for the Canucks. 

"It kind of feels like a weight off your shoulders because you want to get that first one so bad," Schroeder said after the game. "And to be able to get two in one night, it's always good." 

Speaking of the second goal: 

Gopher to Gopher Connection

Former Gophers Thomas Vanek and Jordan Leopold hooked up on Buffalo's first goal in a 3-2 win over Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders. Leopold earned the second assist on the goal -- Vanek's NHL-best 11th of the season. 

Vanek would later add an assist for the Sabres, giving the NHL's leading scorer 23 points this season. 

Kessel Notches Three Points in Toronto Win

Phil Kessel rifled a goal home and picked up two assists as the Maple Leafs blanked Montreal 6-0 on Saturday night. Kessel has two goals and eight assists in 12 games this season including this lovely wrister. 

*Paul Martin logged a game-high 28:49 of ice time for the Penguins in the team's 3-1 loss to New Jersey. 

Coaches Social Set For Tuesday at Campus Pizza

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University of Minnesota head women's basketball coach Pam Borton and her staff, in conjunction with the Fast Break Club, will hold their Coaches Social on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Campus Pizza in Stadium Village. The event is set to get underway at 6:30 p.m.

The Coaches Social is the final event of a series of Coaches Luncheons hosted by the Fast Break Club. The events serve as a great way for Golden Gopher women's basketball supporters to discuss the season and enjoy great company throughout the year.

Cost to attend the Coaches Social is $25 for Fast Break Club members and $30 for non-members. Fans can access the registration form on the Fast Break Club website at fastbreakclub.net.

NHL: Goligoski's Two Assists Help Dallas to 3-1 Win

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Former Gopher Alex Goligoski had a pair of assists including a secondary helper on the eventual game winner as Dallas picked up a 3-1 win over Anaheim in the only game on the NHL docket on Friday. 

Both assists by the Stars defenseman came off prime passes -- including this one on Jamie Benn's eventual game winner. 

Goligoski's second assist wasn't too shabby either as Loui Eriksson gave the Stars a 3-1 lead in the third period. 

The former Gopher also had three hits in the win and was second on Dallas' roster with 21:31 of ice time. Through 11 games this year, Goligoski has five assists with nine hits and 15 blocks. 

Gopher Teammate Trivia

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How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!

Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has freshman Jackie Johnson answering questions about fellow freshman, and roommate, Shayne Mullaney. Enjoy!

Dinner at the Schmidts

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The Gopher men's hockey program would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Schmidt family for hosting the entire squad for team meal last night in St. Cloud. Truly a great way to start the weekend! 

No. 1 Minnesota returns to action tonight at 7:30 p.m against No. 8/10 St. Cloud State at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Can't make it to St. Cloud, tonight's game is on FOX Sports North PLUS and 1500 ESPN.  
Former Gopher Phil Kessel made his first goal of the season count on Thursday night -- tallying the game winner in Toronto's 3-2 win over  Winnipeg. The game-deciding tally gave the forward his 100th goal with the Maple Leafs organization and his 166th as a pro. 

Through 11 games this year, Kessel has seven points (one goal, six assists). The forward tallied 82 points (37 goals, 45 assists) in 82 games for the Maple Leafs last season. 

Vanek's Two Goals Rally Buffalo to Overtime Win

The NHL's leading scorer this season -- Thomas Vanek notched another monster game on Thursday -- scoring a pair of third period goals including the overtime-forcing tally with under two seconds left in regulation -- in Buffalo's eventual 5-4 shootout win over Montreal. 

Considering Vanek has tallied a point in all but one of the 10 games he's played in this year and leads the league in goals (10) and points (21), you really can't be surprised the former Gopher found a way to knock in this goal to force overtime.

Vanek, who also ranks fourth in the league with 11 assists this year, also lit the lamp in Thursday's shootout. Here's Vanek's first goal of the night, which brought the Sabres within a goal. 


*Paul Martin assisted on Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal -- the first of five unanswered goals by Pittsburgh following an early goal by Washington -- in a 5-2 Penguins' win. Martin also had a game-high 28:08 of ice time.

*Former Gophers Jordan Schroeder and Keith Ballard were victorious in their return to Minnesota -- the Canucks picked up a 4-1 win over the Wild.

NHL: Schroeder 'Proving He Belongs' with Canucks

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Former Gopher Jordan Schroeder is seven games into his NHL career, and people are starting to take notice of the Prior Lake, Minn., native. The center, who tallied Vancouver's shootout winner on Feb. 2, has two assists and is a +4 this season with the Canucks after spending the last two years with the organization's AHL affiliates.

Canucks.com recently profiled the team's newest skater as he and current teammate and fellow former Gopher Keith Ballard return to Minnesota to take on the Wild Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center. 

From Canucks.com (read Jeff Angus' entire article here)...

"Through seven games in 2013, Schroeder is averaging a very respectable 14:47 of ice time per game. He has been seeing regular power-play minutes on the second unit, and for good reason. He is arguably the best pure playmaker on the team after Daniel and Henrik (Sedin)."

"Schroeder has never been handed anything, and Vigneault is known to reward players based on performance over contract and experience. Schroeder has been an effective two-way player for the Canucks in 2013, and his speed adds a dimension that could help Vancouver get back to the Stanley Cup Final."

Here's Schroeder's first official point -- an a saucer-pass assist to Mason Raymond from Jan. 25. 

And here's his shootout winner from last Friday. 

Schroeder, Ballard and the Canucks visit the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at 5 p.m. FOX Sports North will broadcast the game. 

Trevor Mbakwe: Behind the Scenes

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What is Trevor Mbakwe looking to accomplish during his final year in college basketball? Go inside the mind of this St. Paul native as he talks about coming back from a torn ACL to try and lead Minnesota to the NCAA Tournament.

This video feature originally appeared during "Gopher Basketball with Tubby Smith" Friday nights on Fox Sports North. Check local listings for exact times and channel information.

Gophers Meet the Media: St. Cloud State

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In this week's edition of Gophers Meet the Media, we recap the week off and look forward to visiting league-leading St. Cloud State this weekend.

The Gophers were off last weekend for the first time since the holiday break. "Early February is probably the ideal time. It allowed Erik (Haula) to get back to 100% and allowed Adam (Wilcox) to refresh himself," head coach Don Lucia said. Minnesota opted for less practices during their week off with an emphasis on intensity.

This week's opponent, St. Cloud State, sits atop the WCHA standings with 29 points. The Huskies posses some high-end talent that have returned to terrorize the league, "Getting (Drew) LeBlanc back as a fifth-year senior has really helped their team. (Ben) Hanowski is having a very good year, and they have a veteran defense core," Lucia said. With LeBlanc in the fold and the arrival of some impact freshmen the Huskies have been able to increase their scoring depth this season.

Lucia believes this is the best St. Cloud team in recent memory and they are confident. "I think getting seven out of eight points in the stretch with Denver and North Dakota was critical for them," Lucia said. St. Cloud backed those impressive results with a sweep at Bemidji State last weekend.

A trip to St. Cloud means a homecoming for Gopher defenseman Nate Schmidt. "It is a fun environment to play in. It is a hustle environment, which makes for a fun weekend," Schmidt said of the atmosphere the Gophers will be facing. Nate says he will have lots of family in attendance at the National Hockey Center, "Most important is my grandpa will be at the games. He does not really get to leave and likes to watch most of the games on TV, so I am really excited to have him come and watch me this weekend." The team will have dinner at the Schmidt's house Thursday night.

Expect to see the top six forwards reshuffled again this weekend. Haula, having recovered from a hand injury, will be back to his natural center position alongside Sam Warning and Zach Budish. Nate Condon is slated to join Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau on the top line.

-By University of Minnesota Communications Student Assistant Josh Brennock

NHL: Leopold Nabs First Goal of the Year

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Former Gopher Jordan Leopold's two-point night in Tuesday's 3-4 loss at Ottawa included the defenseman's first goal of the season -- a nice redirect in the second period that brought the Sabres within two goals of the Senators. 

The former Hobey Baker Award winner also picked up an assist and finished the night as a +1 with four blocked shots and a hit. Fellow former Gophers Thomas Vanek and Jim O'Brien were held off the scores sheet on Tuesday. Vanek leads the NHL with 19 points this season. 

Wheeler Starts Jets' Rally

Down 1-0 to Florida in the second period, Blake Wheeler blasted his fourth goal of the year to even the game in an eventual 3-2 overtime win for Winnipeg. 


*Paul Martin and Kyle Okposo both recorded an assists as Martin and the Penguins topped Okposo and Islanders 4-2 on Tuesday. 
*Phil Kessel had a pair of assists including a helper on the eventual game winner in Toronto's 3-2 win over Washington. 

Minnesota Ranked No. 1 for Sixth-Straight Week

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For the sixth-week in a row, the Minnesota men's hockey program is the No. 1 team in the nation according to the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, both of which were released on Monday. 

The Gophers (18-4-4 overall, 10-4-4 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) earned 978 total points including 30 first-place votes in this week's USCHO.com poll, edging No. 2 Quinnpiac's 967 points (20 first-place votes). Miami, New Hampshire and Boston College round out the top five in this week's poll. 

Minnesota earned 494 total points and 21 first-place votes in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll with Quinnipiac in second at 488 points and 13 first-place votes. Miami, Boston College and New Hampshire close out the top five, respectively. 

Seven WCHA programs earned rankings in this week's polls including the Gophers -- No. 7 North Dakota, No. 8/10 St. Cloud State, No. 9/8 Denver, No. 11/13 Minnesota State, No. 14/15 Omaha and Wisconsin in 19th. 

The top-ranked Gophers return to action this weekend at No. 8/10 St. Cloud State

NHL: Vanek Named NHL First Star of the Week

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Thomas Vanek's week just got a bit better -- the NHL's leading scorer was named the NHL's First Star of the Week after tallying 10 points in the last four games. 

From the Sabres....
"Vanek climbed to first place in the NHL scoring race by posting a League-best 10 points (five goals, five assists) in four games last week. Vanek recorded points on 71% of the Sabres' goals, starting with one assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 29. He notched his second five-point game of the season (three goals, two assists) in a 7-4 victory over the Boston Bruins Jan. 31, becoming the first Sabres player in 20 years to record multiple five-point games in a season. Buffalo's Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny had six and three, respectively, in 1992-93. Vanek tallied Buffalo's only goal in a 6-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 2 and tallied a goal and two assists in a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers Feb. 3. The 29-year-old native of Vienna, Austria is in his eighth NHL season, all with the Sabres after being chosen fifth overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Draft."

Nate Condon Fills in on Tonight's Don Lucia Radio Show

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Go Gophers!
The No. 1 Gophers are back in action this weekend and so is the Don Lucia Radio Show! The weekly 1500 ESPN radio show continues tonight at 6 p.m. at the Beacon Public House on campus.

Tonight, junior forward Nate Condon fills in for Coach Lucia as he and Wally Shaver discuss Minnesota's No. 1 ranking in this week's polls, the Gophers off-week antics and the upcoming WCHA series at St. Cloud State. We'll also ask Condon about what it's like being just the second-ever Gopher to hail from the state of Wisconsin. 

Condon is averaging just under a point a game this season with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 26 games and has nine points in seven games since the new year. The junior forward needs just two goals and six points to match his career highs in both categories. 

Fans can also participate in the show via social media by tweeting their questions using the hash tag #PrideonIce. We'll ask the best questions live on the air. 

The Beacon Public House offers great deals each week for the Don Lucia Radio Show including half price entrees and a happy hour special. The Beacon Public House is located in the new Commons Hotel on campus (615 Washington Avenue SE). 

NHL: Vanek, Martin Have Super Sundays

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Thomas Vanek just keeps scoring and scoring -- the former Gopher improved his NHL-leading point total to 19 on Sunday with a three-point night in Buffalo's 4-3 loss to Florida. 

Vanek wasted little time on Sunday -- scoring his eighth goal of the season just 2:46 into the game to give the Sabres an early 1-0 lead. Vanek, who ranks second in the NHL in goals this season, and linemate Jason Pominville have had some great chemistry already this season as you can see by the goal below. 

The NHL's Third Star for the month of January, Vanek also leads the league with 11 assists this season with a pair of helpers on Sunday including this one to Cody Hodgson.

One final note on Vanek...of Buffalo's 27 goals this season, Vanek has scored or assisted on all but eight of them. 

Martin Sparks Pens Win

Much like his aforementioned former teammate, Paul Martin lit the lamp early on Sunday for Pittsburgh's first goal in a 6-3 win at Washington. The defenseman, who also had four blocked shots and had 27:41 of ice time, picked up his first goal of the season (fourth point) when Sidney Crosby dropped a faceoff back to Martin on the point and the former Gopher slid a wrist shot through the crowd and in at 3:37 of the first period. 

Looks like all that offseason training has paid off for Martin. 

*Monday NHL Schedule - Carolina at Toronto (Kessel), Dallas (Goligoski) at Colorado (Johnson), Vancouver (Ballard, Schroeder) at Edmonton. 

Photos: Skate with the Gophers

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Go Gophers!
An event-filled day at Mariucci Arena came to an end with Minnesota's annual Skate with the Gophers event on Saturday. A sold-out crowd showed up to skate with the top-ranked Gophers. 

"We have the best fans in the country, and they show up for every game and support the program no matter if we're on the road or at Mariucci Arena," junior defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "It's nice to be able to return the favor and say thanks for all of their support." 

Check out the full photo gallery and share your photos on Twitter (@GopherHockey). 

The No. 1 Gophers return to action next weekend with a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at league-leading St. Cloud State. 

Gophers Mix It Up With Local Sled, Special Hockey Programs

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Photo Gallery 

 There's no such thing as an off week for the No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey program and this weekend was no different for the Gophers. 

The team hit the ice on Saturday morning to skate with several local sled hockey and special hockey teams in an event set up through the Hendrickson Foundation. Dozens of local hockey players joined the Gophers at Mariucci Arena to run through drills and play a handful of pick-up games. 

"Normally our goal is to put a smile on someone else's face, but this time I think it was the other way around. I'm pretty sure every one of our guys came off the ice with a grin from ear to ear," junior forward Nate Condon said. "Today was a great way to get in a little bit of hockey during the off-week, and we're glad we could be a part of it." 

Formed in 2011 in partnership with USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey, the Hendrickson Foundation is focused on growing disabled hockey in the state of Minnesota. Former North Stars strength and conditioning coach Larry Hendrickson founded the organization with the following mission:

"The Hendrickson Foundation knows for every disabled hockey player we have on the ice today, there are literally hundreds who we've yet to reach. We will be tireless in our efforts to grow participation through awareness of our programs as well as providing financial assistance to families in need. We also know we can't do it alone." 

And that's where the Gophers are trying to help. 

"You know today was great for our guys, but the best part of the event was getting some exposure for the Hendrickson Foundation," Minnesota associate head coach Mike Guentzel said. "The more people we have playing hockey in Minnesota the better, and it's great that everyone who wants to play hockey is getting that opportunity because of groups like this." 

To learn more about the Hendrickson Foundation, visit the organization's website or follow them on Twitter (@HFHockeyMN).

Check out KARE 11 tonight at 5 and 6 p.m. for more on today's event and how you can help support the Hendrickson Foundation. 

NHL: Schroeder Nabs Shootout Winner for Vancouver

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There's no doubt that former Gopher Jordan Schroeder will remember his first NHL goal -- even if it doesn't officially count. 

The Vancouver forward scored the shootout winner with this wrister on Friday, giving the Canucks a 2-1 victory over Chicago.

"I wanted to go in with some speed and wide," Schroeder told Canucks.com after the game. "I came back to the middle and changed my pace of speed. I froze him. He opened up the five hole a little bit, and it trickled through."

Schroeder's slot in the shootout lineup for Vancouver on Friday is even more impressive considering he made his NHL debut just over a week ago.

"We have been working on it," he said. "I knew my name would get called. I was fortunate enough to get one and score."

Former Gopher and current Canucks teammate Keith Ballard finished the night +1 with two blocked shots in the win while Chicago's Nick Leddy was also in the shootout lineup although the defenseman couldn't beat Roberto Luongo. 


*Alex Goligoski had four blocked shots, a hit, two shots and one minor penalty in Dallas' 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix. Goligoski also had a team-high 25:24 of ice time. 

*Saturday NHL games: NJD vs. PIT (Martin), EDM vs. COL (Johnson), BUF (Vanek, Leopold), NYR (Bickel) vs. TBL, BOS vs. TOR (Kessel), DAL (Goligoski) vs. PHX, CHI (Leddy) vs. CAL. 

*Don't forget Skate with the Gophers is today from 1-4 at Mariucci Arena. To buy tickets, visit MyGopherSports.com

Sneak Peek: No. 23/24 Gophers vs. Iowa

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Go Gophers!

The No. 23/24 Gophers picked up a 19-point win against Nebraska to snap a four-game losing streak. They will take on Iowa, which just beat Penn State, at noon on Sunday. GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett previewed the Hawkeyes.

Head Coach: Fran McCaffrey

Go Gophers! Rodney Williams
Go Gophers!
Rodney Williams scored 23 points against Nebraska and will look to carry the momentum into Sunday.
Go Gophers!

Current Record: 14-7 (3-5 Big Ten)

Last Year's Big Ten Record: 8-10

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Roy Devyn Marble-14.1 ppg; Aaron White-14.0 ppg; Mike Gesell-8.8 ppg; Melsahn Basabe-7.4 ppg; Zach McCabe-5.9 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Aaron White-6.0 rpg; Adam Woodbury-5.3 rpg; Melsahn Basabe-4.5 rpg; Roy Devyn Marble-4.0 rpg; Zach McCabe-3.8 rpg.

Notable Non-Conference Wins: Gardner-Webb, Iowa State, University of Northern Iowa, Western Kentucky

Notable Non-Conference Losses: Wichita State, Virginia Tech

Conference Wins: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn State

Conference Losses: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue


Second-year head coach Fran McCaffery led the Hawkeyes to a few good wins over a couple of mid-major programs during the non-conference season, and Iowa appeared to be turning the corner thanks to a strong freshman class.

The Hawkeyes brought an 11-2 record into Big Ten play. They have had some struggles against the tough conference competition, but three of their losses have been by three points or fewer.

So far this season, junior Roy Devyn Marble leads the Hawkeye attack. The guard/small forward has been a strong leader for a young team. Sophomore Aaron White has had some strong performances, too. Along with the top scorers, two freshmen in guard Mike Gesell and center Adam Woodbury have Iowa fans believing in this team again.

The Hawkeyes know how to score points. They are averaging 73.0 points per game, just behind the Gophers at fourth in the conference.

Many predicted Iowa to be a sleeper team this season. If they continue to win their most winnable games, and pick up a few victories from ranked teams as well, the Hawkeyes could still finish somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten. A finish in the upper half would be a major accomplishment for this young team.

In case you missed it, former Gopher Thomas Vanek vaulted into the NHL scoring lead on Thursday night with his second five-point game of the young NHL season. Vanek notched his eighth career hat trick and added a pair of assists to lead Buffalo to a 7-4 win over Boston for the Bruins' first regulation loss of the season. 

Vanek, who also ranks second in the NHL this season in both goals (six) and assists (nine), has tallied a point in each of the six games he's played this year and is averaging more than two points a game. 

In addition to the individual performance by the Minnesota alum, the Sabres were able to bounce back for the win despite being down 3-1 at one point in the second period and 4-3 early in the third. 

"I think team toughness is when you get down by two, you don't hang your head, you don't pout, you just keep playing your game, and I think we did that today," Vanek told NHL.com. 

The NHL's hot hand at the moment, Vanek's early season performance reminds us of some of his finer moments as a Gopher. 


*Paul Martin again led the Penguins with 26:23 of ice time on Thursday in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers. 

*Blake Wheeler had a pair of assists in a 3-6 loss to Florida. Wheeler's first helper of the night came off a great steal and subsequent backhanded dish to Olli Jokinen. 

*Six former Gophers are in NHL action on Friday: WPG (Wheeler) vs. TBL, PHX vs. DAL (Goligoski), CHI (Leddy) vs. VAN (Ballard, Schroeder) and OTT (O'Brien) vs. CAR. 

*O'Brien has goals in two-straight games for the Senators heading into tonight's contest. 


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