March 2013 Archives

Instant Analysis: Yale 3 Minnesota 2 OT

| No TrackBacks


Thoughts about the Gophers NCAA West Regional 3-2 loss against Yale.

Bulldogs Win

Minnesota fell to Yale in the first game of the NCAA West Regional, 3-2 in overtime. Jesse Root scored the game-winning goal for the Bulldogs less than 10 seconds into the extra frame. The Gophers received goals by Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish to erase a two-goal deficit in the third in order and send the game to overtime. Minnesota's season ended after suffering back-to-back loses for the first time all season.

 

Failing Behind

The game followed a similar path to the game against Colorado College at the WCHA Final Five. After a scoreless first period, Minnesota's opponent scored twice in the second period to take a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. Yale got on the board first courtesy of Kenny Agostino. The Bulldogs' second goal was scored by defenseman Gus Young on the power play. Minnesota lacked jump in the first two periods and failed to get quality opportunities around Yale goaltender Jeff Malcolm.

 

Fighting Back

Minnesota came back with much better effort in the third period and would tie the score to send the game to overtime. The Gophers' top-ranked power play finally converted on its fifth the chance of the game. Nate Schmidt's point shot found its way past Jeff Malcolm with a nice screen in front set by Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad. Zach Budish tied the score with a great redirect in front of the net. He received a fancy centering pass from Erik Haula, who was stationed in the corner. Budish's goal came 13:40 into the third period and was the last goal of regulation.

 

Season as a Whole

Minnesota's season concludes with today's loss. The Gophers stayed at or near the top of the national polls during the entire season, never dropping lower than fourth in the USCHO.com Poll. The highlight of the Gophers season was capturing a share of the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champion. Overall, Minnesota won 26 games this season and did not lose a regular-season series all year. Erik Haula led a very talented group in scoring with 51 points. Freshman Adam Wilcox was a revelation in net, taking over the reigns in the first month of the season and running with it. Next year's version of Pride on Ice will undoubtedly have a different makeup, but the 2012-13 Gophers were one of the most talented in history and accomplished a lot.  


Story by Minnesota Student Intern Josh Brennock

Gophers Meet the Media: NCAA West Regional/Yale

| No TrackBacks

The Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday prior to flying off to Grand Rapids, Mich. for the NCAA West Regional beginning Friday afternoon.

The Gophers' opponent in the opening round of the tournament is the Yale Bulldogs. The Minnesota players are not too familiar with their Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference opponent, but they are looking forward to the challenge.

"It is always fun to play a team new team like Yale," forward Nate Condon said. It is the first meeting between The Gophers and Bulldogs since Minnesota claimed a 7-3 victory during the 2002 Dodge Holiday Classic at Mariucci Arena.

Head coach Don Lucia, who has coached alongside Yale head coach Keith Allain, offered some insight into how the Bulldogs like to play.

"(Yale) wants to get up and down the rink. They try to recruit skilled players," Lucia said. "This year, they had had a lot of success. They beat Denver, beat Colorado College, and tied Boston College all on the road."

Senior defenseman Seth Helgeson thinks the Gophers are well prepared to face Yale. "In our non-conference schedule we played a team like (Boston College), and they were a quick team, so we should be ready for (Yale)," Helgeson said. "We know we have to play physical, but we like to play an up and down type of game too."

A Gopher win on Friday afternoon means a matchup with either North Dakota or Niagara on Saturday. While some of the players admitted they might have to guard against looking ahead towards a potential matchup with archrival North Dakota, defenseman Nate Schmidt knows the focus needs to be on Yale.

"Hopefully, we will have a great game Friday night. I am just really excited to play Yale," Schmidt said. "If we win the game, whoever we get after that will be a great game."

All three games from the NCAA West Regional can be seen live on ESPNU. The Gophers will tangle with the Bulldogs on Friday at 1 p.m. CT. The regional final is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Gophers are two wins away from a return trip to the Frozen Four after reaching the crowning event of the college hockey season for the first time in seven seasons last year.

Story by Communications Student Intern Josh Brennock

"The Best Kept Secret"

| No TrackBacks
This feature on the Gopher women's hockey team exemplifies what this team and staff is all about. It gives an in depth insight on the team culture, the coaching staff and more.

Looking Back at Minnesota's Last Game Against Yale

| No TrackBacks
As the Gophers prepare to open the NCAA tournament against Yale this Friday at 1 p.m. CT in Grand Rapids, Mich.,  we've been doing a little research into the history between these two squads. We discovered the box score from Minnesota's 7-3 win over the Bulldogs on Dec. 27, 2002 (the last time these two programs met) over at CollegeHockeyStats.net, and what we found was pretty amazing. 

Five points from Minnesota's top line of Thomas Vanek (2-0--2), Matt Koalska (0-1--1) and Troy Riddle (0-2--2). The game-winning goal (and an assist) from current Penguins defenseman Paul Martin and a shorthanded goal from Vancouver blue liner Keith Ballard. In all, 13 different Gophers with a point. 

Jerrid Reinholz picked up his first of two points in the win with a goal just 2:15 into the game, and Minnesota was cruising soon after. The Gophers built a 6-0 lead midway through the battle before the Bulldogs found the net for the first time. 

It's also worth noting that the win gave Minnesota its seventh-straight victory over Yale while the Gophers went on to pick up a Dodge Holiday Classic title the next night with a 201 overtime win over No. 6 Boston College. 

And of course, we all know how the 2002-03 season ended...


Gophers in the News

| No TrackBacks

ESPN
Gophers get first perfect season
http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/9094220/minnesota-golden-gophers-get-first-ever-perfect-season-ncaa-women-hockey-title


ESPNW
Minnesota's record season begs the question
http://espn.go.com/espnw/college-sports/9094190/women-frozen-four-record-season-minnesota-best-hockey-team-ever


USA TODAY
Minnesota women's hockey team finishes perfectly
http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/hockey/2013/03/25/minnesota-golden-gophers-perfect-season-championship-amanda-kessel-brad-frost/2016365/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UsatodaycomCollegeSports-TopStories+(Sports+-+College+-+Top+Stories)


NEW YORK TIMES
Minnesota Women's Hockey Wins 49 in a Row to Win Title
http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/streaks-alive-minnesota-womens-hockey-win-49-in-a-row-to-win-title/


STAR TRIBUNE
Minnesota beats Boston University to repeat as NCAA women's hockey champ
http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/199777071.html

'Dynasty' talk for Gopher women? Save that chat for later
http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/199800981.html

At Ridder Arena, Gophers rose above the pressure
http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/199795251.html


PIONEER PRESS

Gophers women's hockey team is one for the history books
http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22862640/bob-sansevere-gophers-womens-hockey-team-is-one

U finishes perfect season with repeat NCAA title
http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22861964/gophers-womens-hockey-ncaa-champs-keep-record-intact

Noora Raty caps career in most outstanding style
http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22862703/gophers-womens-hockey-noora-raty-caps-career-most



ABC - KSTP5
Perfect Season and National Championship for Gophers Women's Hockey
http://kstp.com/article/stories/S2974715.shtml?cat=12531


CBS - WCCO
Gophers Get Perfect Season With NCAA Women's Title
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/03/24/gophers-get-perfect-season-with-ncaa-womens-title/


NBC - KARE11
Gophers get perfect season with NCAA women's title
http://www.kare11.com/sports/gophers/article/1018185/452/Gophers-get-perfect-season-with-NCAA-womens-title


FOX9 NEWS
Perfect season: Gopher women win 2nd consecutive national championship
http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/21781344/perfect-season-gopher-women-win-2nd-consecutive-national-championship


FOX SPORTS NORTH
http://www.foxsportsnorth.com/collegehockey/minnesota-golden-gophers/story/Gophers-nab-womens-title-with-49th-strai?blockID=883773&feedID=3793


THE EXAMINER
http://www.examiner.com/article/2013-ncaa-frozen-four-minnesota-gophers-women-repeat-as-champions


MINNESOTA DAILY
http://www.mndaily.com/sports/womens-hockey/2013/03/24/gophers-complete-perfect-season-win-second-straight-ncaa-title


GOLD & GOPHER
2013 NCAA Champions: 'We Made The Impossible, Possible'
http://goldandgopher.com/2013/03/24/gopher-womens-hockey-2013-ncaa-champions-we-made-the-impossible-possible/

Catch a Special Don Lucia Radio Show Tonight

| No TrackBacks
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 break down Minnesota's NCAA West Regional opponent Yale from the ECAC. The two teams meet for the first time ever in the NCAA tournament this Friday at 2 p.m. ET at Van Andel Arena with North Dakota and Niagara also in the regional. The Bulldogs enter the week with an 18-12-3 overall record and finished third in the ECAC regular season with a 12-9-1 mark in league play. Yale, who will take on the Gophers for the first time since 2002, is led by seventh year head coach Keith Allain. Tonight's show will also examine last weekend's WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center as well as several other topics regarding the Gopher hockey program. 

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). 

2012-13 Gophers Women's Basketball Bloopers

| No TrackBacks


The Minnesota women's basketball team filmed numerous videos during the 2012-13 season that were used during home games, on Gophersports.com and on Twitter and Facebook. The end products used the best shots and were always professionally produced, but the Gophers had a lot more fun with the videos than their fans were able to see.

With 2012-13 coming to a close, Gophersports.com gives fans an inside look at some of the best bloopers from the year. Check out all of the fun that the team experiences behind the scenes!

Blog: Previewing the Gators

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! Gophers vs. Florida
Go Gophers!

On Sunday, March 24, in Austin, Texas, the Gophers will continue their quest to make a deep NCAA Tournament run a Third Round matchup against No. 3 seed Florida in the South Regional. GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett took a peek at what the Gators have accomplished so far this season, and how the Gophers will match up with them.

Florida Preview

Head Coach:
Billy Donovan

Overall Record:
27-7

SEC Conference Record:
14-4

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Erik Murphy-12.8 ppg; Kenny Boynton-12.3 ppg; Mike Rosario-12.2 ppg; Patric Young-10.5 ppg; Scottie Wilbekin-9.1 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Patric Young-6.3 rpg; Will Yeguete-5.9 rpg; Erik Murphy-5.5 rpg; Casey Prather-3.8 rpg; Michael Frazier II-3.3 rpg. 

Notable wins: Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State, Marquette, Florida State, Air Force Academy, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama

Notable losses: Arizona, Kansas State, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi 

Outlook

Florida is a team that is a serious contender for the Final Four if they are hitting on all cylinders. 

Senior forward Erik Murphy and senior point guard Kenny Boynton lead the Gators. The two led the team in scoring and on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin's defense has also been important to Florida's success.

The Gators average 71.9 points per game and allow just 53.5 points per game, which is third in the nation. In fact, Florida's defense has been so stout that it has allowed more than 70 points just once (80 points in a loss to Arkansas) and allowed 50 points or fewer 13 times this season.

In their Second Round game, the Gators held the highest scoring team in the nation in Northwestern State to 34 points below its season average.

However, Florida is not without its weaknesses. The Gators are 0-6 in games decided by six points or fewer this season. They have also let three double-digit leads slip away.

If the Gophers can get up and down the court and take the Gators out of their element and turn this into a high scoring game, there is a good chance they could make it into the Sweet 16.

Instant Analysis: Colorado College 2 Minnesota 0

| No TrackBacks

Minnesota fell 2-0 to Colorado College at the WCHA Final Five tonight. 

Tigers Top Minnesota

Minnesota dropped a 2-0 contest to Colorado College in the semifinals of the WCHA Final Five. The Tigers will meet the University of Wisconsin in tomorrow's championship game. Despite outshooting the Tigers in ever period, the Gophers never solved Colorado College goalie Joe Howe, who made 35 saves to earn the shutout. Minnesota's final game at the WCHA Final Five will go down as a disappointment.

Gophers Play From Behind... Can Not Catch Up

After a scoreless first period, Colorado College took a 2-0 lead with two goals in the second period. Rylan Schwartz gave the Tigers a lead 59 seconds into the period when he let a strong wrist shot go after a fancy toe drag. Schwartz was able to use the Gophers defenseman as a screen for Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox on the play. Charlie Taft doubled Colorado College's lead with his seventh goal of the season just over three minutes later. The two goals would be all that The Tigers needed to earn a birth in the title game. Minnesota is now 1-4-1 when trailing after two periods.

Up Next

The Gophers now turn their attention to the NCAA tournament. The regionals are take place next weekend. Minnesota will find out their opponent at 8 p.m. Sunday night when the NCAA releases the tournament bracket. Signs point to the Gophers being the number one seed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of this year's west regional. The other three regional host sites and potential destinations for Minnesota are Toledo, Ohio, Providence, Rhode Island, and Manchester, New Hampshire. The selection show will be broadcasted on ESPNU.

Written by University of Minnesota intern Josh Brennock

WCHA Final Five Blog

| No TrackBacks
The 2013 WCHA Final Five is officially underway at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and even with the Gophers off until tomorrow's semifinal against either Colorado College or North Dakota, Thursday was a full day for most of the team. 

With the rest of campus on Spring Break, the Gophers woke up early for morning practice at Xcel Energy Center after breakfast at the team hotel. The Gophers prepped for practice in an auxiliary room at the X with all of the arena's locker rooms spoken for on Thursday (Minnesota staff will move the team into a locker room following Thursday's quarterfinal action). The dressing area was completely adequate for the Gophers with some members of the team remembering a similar situation at the Hockey City Classic with the Chicago Blackhawks using Minnesota's locker room at Soldier Field. 

Thursday's skate was a typical practice for the Gophers including ending the skate with a team shootout. Your winner? Junior Nick Bjugstad who started the shootout off with two-straight goals and was not challenged for the lead...even when associate head coach Mike Guentzel stepped in as Minnesota's last hope to unseat the team's leading goal scorer this season. 

"It's great to have a little fun at the end of practice," Bjugstad said. "Most of our practice is spent focused on the task at hand, it's nice to have that last 10 minutes to blow off a little steam...you never know who is going to make it interesting." 

For some members of the squad, playing at Xcel Energy Center is nothing new. For others, this weekend marks the first time playing at the venue. For all, it's no doubt another special occasion -- perhaps even more so with this year marking Minnesota's final campaign in the WCHA. 

"This is such a great venue and a great event. You can't help but smile when you're out there on the ice," junior Jake Parenteau said. "We're looking forward to Friday night no matter who we play. Hopefully we take care of business and get the chance to close out the WCHA season on Saturday."  

Thursday afternoon was a fun experience for the Gophers. With fans from around the WCHA showing up for the start of this year's tournament, most of the team stuck around downtown St. Paul to get lunch and watch as crowds grew around Xcel Energy Center (Chipotle lunch seemed to be the favorite for most of the team and staff). 

Lunch was followed with a return to the hotel for some while others took in the first quarterfinal game between Wisconsin and Minnesota State (the Badgers picked up a 7-2 win in that one). 

The Gophers players will not attend Thursday's second quarterfinal. Instead the team will remain at the hotel, either watching the action on TV or resting up for another full day tomorrow. 

Blog: First Day of the Frozen Four

| No TrackBacks


Frozen Four Tournament Central | Thursday Press Conference Recap | Gophers Frozen Four Preview

The Frozen Four is finally here!

Since winning the national title last season, our sights have been set on returning to the Frozen Four, especially with it being hosted at Ridder Arena. And after a long, exciting and history 2012-13 season, we have finally achieved one of our goals.

With the rest of Minnesota on Spring Break, our schedule has been very flexible. We had a team breakfast this morning at Egg & I, and then we had our team practice around lunchtime.

The practice was business as usual, and we fine-tuned some things for tomorrow's game versus Boston College. At the end of practice, we did our ritual "Hair-Down Showdown", which is done the last practice before the weekend begins. Coach Frost was the surprise winner today as he somehow slipped the puck by Noora.

After practice, Noora, Amanda and Coach Frost addressed the media one last time before the weekend.

We are now getting ready to head to the NCAA Frozen Four Banquet, which will be held at TCF Bank Stadium. It will be a good chance for all the players, coaches and staff to mingle with one another and really take in the whole Frozen Four experience. I've heard the meal is the same as what we had at the Senior Banquet back in February, so we all are pretty excited about dinner tonight!

The banquet will wrap up our final prep day for the Frozen Four, and then it is business tomorrow morning! Everyone is pumped and excited to defend our national title this weekend!

 - LND -

Game Preview: Gophers vs. UCLA

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! MNB1G
Go Gophers!

COMPLETE GAME NOTES/PREVIEW | NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

By Jeff Fett, GopherSports.com

Friday, March 22, in Austin, Texas the Gophers will begin their quest to make it to their second Final Four in school history in a second round matchup against No. 6 seed UCLA in the South Regional. Here is a preview of what the Bruins have accomplished so far this season.

NCAA Tournament Preview: UCLA

Head Coach: Ben Howland

Overall Record: 25-9

Pac-12 Conference Record: 13-5

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Shabazz Muhammad-17.8 ppg; Jordan Adams-15.3 ppg; Travis Wear-11.2 ppg; Kyle Anderson-9.8 ppg; Larry Drew II-7.6 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Kyle Anderson-8.6 rpg; Shabazz Muhammad-5.3 rpg; Travis Wear-5.2 rpg; David Wear-5.0 rpg; Joshua Smith-4.2 rpg.

Go Gophers! Trev
Go Gophers!
Austin Hollins and the Gophers are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.
Go Gophers!

Notable wins: Georgia, Texas, Missouri, Long Beach State, California, Arizona, Stanford, Colorado

Notable losses: Georgetown, Cal Poly, San Diego State, Oregon, Washington State

Outlook

The Gophers second round matchup against UCLA is a tough one to predict. UCLA won the regular season Pac-12 title this season, but also went through some rough stretches as well.

The Bruins are led by freshman guard/forward combo Shabazz Muhammad, who leads the team in scoring and is likely to be a top 10 pick in the NBA draft this season should he choose to exit early.

UCLA can get up and down the court, averaging 74.7 points per game, which is 28th in the nation. The team also is averaging 16.1 assists per game, which is 11th in the country. However, the Bruins also give up a lot of points as well. In the Bruins' 34 games, they have given up at least 60 points or more 26 times.

Just before the NCAA tournament, UCLA suffered a big hit. The Bruins will be without freshman guard Jordan Adams after he broke his foot in their Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinal victory over Arizona on Friday. Adams is the team's second scorer and led the Pac-12 in steals with 73 this season. Sophomore Norman Powell will take his place in the starting lineup.

What could work in the Gophers favor is UCLA's depth. With the loss of Adams, the Bruins will likely stick to a seven-man rotation. If the Gophers can make this game into a track meet, there is a good chance they could move on.

 

 

NCAA Travel Blog: Trying for the Sweet 16

| No TrackBacks
March 23 - 6:30 p.m.

GAME INFORMATION | Watch the Tournament Online

Quotes from Today's Media Activities: Minnesota | Florida

Blog: Previewing the Gators (by GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett)

Yesterday, the Gophers had one final practice before taking on UCLA. Other than that, the team had all day to relax before playing the very last game of the NCAA Second Round.

The band and spirit squads (including national champion mascot Goldy, of course) have done a phenomenal job this weekend. They were at the 'Sota Social at the Tavern before the game, along with a lot of family and fans who had an opportunity to chat and have snacks before taking a shuttle to the arena.

Go Gophers! Gopher pep band
Go Gophers!
Our game ended up starting even later than planned when the Florida-Northwestern State game ran longer than expected. After getting to Austin on Wednesday afternoon, late Friday was a long time to wait to play. It was great to finally tip off at 9:22 p.m.

Go Gophers! about to tip off against UCLA
Go Gophers!
It was also great to see the Gophers take an early lead. Things got a little tense (for me, anyway) when UCLA chipped away at that lead at the beginning of the second half. And then it was hard not to start cheering on the sidelines when the Gophers pulled away again. After the 83-63 score went final, Tubby Smith and Dre Hollins did some on-court interviews. Smiley Dre got a lot of cheers going back to the locker room.

Go Gophers! Dre Hollins
Go Gophers!
After media obligations, we finally got back to the hotel around 12:30. The spirit squads and band again were very supportive, forming a tunnel for the team to go through as they went inside for the postgame meal.

The team had press conferences this afternoon, and will be finishing up their closed practice soon. A false fire alarm during Miami's practice earlier today pushed back the schedule for the rest of the practices. I used practice time to explore the surrounding part of campus. At Texas Memorial Stadium, a gate was ajar, so I walked through without asking, just to snap a couple pictures.

Go Gophers! Texas Memorial Stadium
Go Gophers!
Wearing my Minnesota shirt for the walk appears to have paid off. A nice man at the stadium told me he only let me in because he liked Tubby. On my way back to the Frank Erwin Center, someone said, "Go, Gophs!" to me out of a car window.

March 21 -10:30 p.m.

COMPLETE GAME INFO

Blog: Previewing the Gophers-UCLA Match-Up

Minnesota Pre-Tournament Quotes Get Acrobat Reader

It's fitting that I mentioned the bat bridge earlier today, because we ended up having a close encounter with a bat tonight. A few different times during the Gophers' open practice, everyone stopped for a moment while a bat flew around in the court area at the Frank Erwin Center. (See the video above for some bat footage.) The bat even went at Julian Welch. I don't think Dre Hollins was a big fan--he kept running away. I guess Barnyard animals follow the Gophers around even when they're not playing in Williams Arena.

Go Gophers! Frank Erwin Center
Go Gophers!

Before practice, the media had access to the team. The locker room was open to media for half an hour. Coach Tubby Smith and the two captains, Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams, fielded questions in the press conference area during part of that time. As most of the media cleared out of the locker room, we started watching the Michigan-South Dakota State game before heading out to the court for practice.

Go Gophers! Minnesota locker room sign
Go Gophers!

A few tidbits from the locker room:

Rodney Williams, on the city of Austin:
"It's a pretty nice city, from what we've seen. I'm most happy about getting out of the cold weather, just being somewhere warm."

Williams, on being back in the Tournament as a senior:
"It's definitely nice. To come in my freshman year and get to the Tournament and then not go for a couple years, that was tough. To go out with an NCAA Tournament, I think that's the best way to go out."

Andre Hollins, on his first NCAA Tournament experience:
"It's very exciting. As a kid, you grow up watching college basketball with a sense of excitement. You're on the couch watching these games back to back with the players playing their hearts out. You just hope that one day that's you. Now that I have the opportunity to be here, it's crazy. It's exciting."

Go Gophers! team at the NCAA Tournament
Go Gophers!

The Gophers will have one last practice tomorrow before playing in the very last game of the 2013 Second Round (formerly known as the First Round) at about 9:00 p.m. For information about the viewing party in Roseville, the 'Sota Social in Austin and home viewing options, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

March 21 - 3:00 p.m.

Thursday has a day of practice and meetings so far. Some of the staff attended morning meetings to go over tournament procedures so that everything would run smoothly later in the day and on game day. The coaches' meeting starts pretty soon, as well.

Go Gophers! Frank Erwin Center
Go Gophers!

Pictured above: Frank Erwin Center

At noon, the Gophers practiced at St. Edward's University in Austin. Several of us watched basketball on our phones on the way there. (Check out the NCAA March Madness Live app if you have a smart phone or tablet--but be prepared to charge your device soon if you do. The app is free and allows you to track scores and watch games live.) At practice, we could see passers-by stopping at the windows to take a peek at the Division I team using the Division II Hilltoppers' gym.

Go Gophers! practice at St. Edward's
Go Gophers!

Our bus driver gave us a nice tour of the University of Texas campus and other parts of Austin before bringing us back to the hotel. The Longhorns have some incredible facilities, and their campus is spread out like the University of Minnesota. Places we saw included the state capitol building, the Longhorns' football and baseball stadiums, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and a bridge under which a lot of bats live (kind of creepy). There would be pictures of some of this if we had gotten off the bus--maybe I will add some tomorrow if I have a chance to walk around in the morning.

It has been kind of fun just walking or driving around Austin and seeing some of the quirky things in this city. It seems like there are food trucks just about everywhere. There are a handful of them right outside our hotel, and there are some streets with a whole bunch them lined up in a row. On one street not far from our hotel, people have converted most of the houses into bars/restaurants.

The Gophers will be going back to the Frank Erwin Center for media availability and open practice tonight. Practice is open to the public and runs from 6:40 to 7:20.

March 20 - 7:30 p.m.

Go Gophers!
Mack Brown
Go Gophers!

March Madness has officially begun for the Golden Gopher basketball team. The team, band, cheerleaders, staff and others involved with the program flew to Austin, Texas, this afternoon to get ready for Minnesota's game against UCLA on Friday night.

We left Williams Arena and well-below-average "spring" temperatures late in the morning and arrived in balmy Texas this afternoon. The Minnesota Rouser played in the airport as we were boarding. When we got off the plane at the airport, it was nice not to need a winter coat. A local news crew was at the hotel when we arrived to greet our buses and interview Tubby Smith.

The Gophers had lunch at the hotel, and went to practice later in the evening, where they had a chance to meet Texas Longhorns football coach Mack Brown and listen to a little talk from him. The Gophers will have their first look at the Frank Erwin Center court tomorrow during open practice. Anyone in Austin who wishes may come to watch on Thursday. Minnesota's open practice runs from 6:40 to 7:20 p.m.

Info for Friday
The No. 11 Gophers will play No. 6 UCLA in the second game of the Friday night session. The first game will start at 6:27 p.m. CT, and the Gophers will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game between Florida and Northwestern State. Find both teams' game notes and all the other information you need on our preview page.

For Gopher Fans in Minnesota
There will be a viewing party at Joe Senser's in Roseville. If you would like, come early for the Gopher men's hockey game at 7 p.m. and stay for the basketball game at 9 p.m. There will be food and beverage specials and chances to win prizes.

If you're watching on TV at home, try these channels: Comcast 51, DirecTV 246, Dish 204. Or look for your provider with the TruTV channel finder. Games are also available online at ncaa.com.

For Gopher Fans in Austin
The NCAA Tournament edition of the 'Sota Social runs from 5-7 p.m. at the Tavern (922 West 12th Street, Austin, Texas, 78703). The event will feature snacks, a cash bar, prizes and entertainment. Starting at 6:30, fans can take a shuttle from the social to the arena for the game.

Gophers Meet the Media: WCHA Final Five

| No TrackBacks

Members of the Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media ahead of this weekend's WCHA Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Based on earning a share of the MacNaughton Cup and the tournament's No. 2-seed, the Gophers receive a bye and will first play in Friday night's semifinal against either North Dakota or Colorado College. 

The players are looking forward to participating in the program's last WCHA Final Five before leaving to join the new Big Ten Hockey Conference next season. "It is one of the more fun tournaments of the year. We know that our fan base will be behind us and whoever we play will have a lot of fans there as well," forward Erik Haula said.

The Gophers opponent on Friday night will be determined by Thursday night's quarterfinal between North Dakota and Colorado College. Regardless of the opponent, head coach Don Lucia believes a quick start will be key, "I think the first period is very important. I think the team who played the day before has an advantage early in the game. Hopefully, we have an advantage as the game goes on because we are rested."

Minnesota is very familiar with both North Dakota and Colorado College. Erik Haula thinks the semifinal game will come down to intangibles. "Whoever we play, I do not think it will be about systems. It will be who works harder, and who wants it more."

Minnesota will need to win two games this weekend in order to hoist the Broadmoor Trophy for the fist time since 2007. "Our goal, like every team here, is to be playing on Saturday night," Lucia said. "I think our guys are real excited to head down (to the Xcel Energy Center) this weekend."

Players and coaches were cautious not to put too much emphasis on the results this weekend, with an eye towards the NCAA tournament. Coach Lucia mentioned he might use the games in St. Paul to tweak lines in order to find the best combinations for national postseason. Minnesota hopes to use the WCHA Final Five as a springboard the NCAA tournament. "Whoever wins the (WCHA Final Five) will have great confidence going towards the NCAAs and that is what you are looking for at this time," forward Kyle Rau said.

It will certainly be an exciting weekend for the fans. The Gophers play in the semifinals Friday night a 7:00 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The game can be seen on FOX Sports North, and it can be heard on 1500 ESPN.

-Story By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

AHL: Taffe Among Leading Scorers After Four-Point Game

| No TrackBacks
Former Gopher Jeff Taffe factored into four of Hershey's five goals on Sunday in a 5-2 win over Adirondack, scoring twice including the eventual game winner and setting up two more goals. The forward now ranks third in the AHL with 58 points (18 goals, 40 assists) in 59 games this season. 


The Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, feature four former Gophers on this year's roster with Ryan Potulny, Ryan Stoa and Mike Carman joining Taffe on the roster (Potulny also scored in Hershey's win on Sunday). Combined, the Minnesota contingency brings two First Team All-America honors and a a total of four All-WCHA accolades to the Bears' roster. 


Don't Miss Tonight's Don Lucia Radio Show

| No TrackBacks
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 will discuss Minnesota's final WCHA playoff campaign, which started off last weekend with a two-game sweep over Bemidji State at Mariucci Arena and continues this Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul as part of the WCHA Final Five. 

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). 

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 4 Bemidji State 3

| No TrackBacks

Minnesota came from behind to beat Bemidji State, 4-3.

Gophers Sweep

The Gophers won game two of the WCHA playoff series against Bemidji State by a score of 4-3 to win the series. It was very entertaining game. Bemidji State played much better tonight than last night, generated twice the number of shots in regulation. The Gophers came back from a 3-1 deficit to earn victory. Ben Marshall scored the winning goal with 52 seconds left in regulation on a great individual effort. He navigated past the Bemidji State defense and beat Bemidji State goaltender Andrew Walsh. Minnesota advances to the WCHA Final Five next Friday in St. Paul.

Gophers Fight Back

Minnesota trailed by two goals on two separate occasions tonight, forcing the Gophers to play from behind all night. Nick Bjugstad scored another power play goal for Minnesota 15:33 into the second period to cut Bemidji State's first two-goal lead to one. The Beavers wasted no time restoring the two-goal margin. Jeff Jubinville scored just 16 seconds after Bjugstad's tally. Minnesota continued to push back. Nate Schmidt's shot hit Nate Condon in front of the net and squeaked through the pads of Walsh and over the line right before the second intermission. The Gophers tied the game in the third period courtesy of A.J. Michaelson, and Ben Marshall did the honors of finishing off the Beavers and completing the comeback with 52 seconds left in regulation.

The Walsh Story

For much of the weekend, Bemidji State goaltender Andrew Walsh was the story. He made 49 saves last night. Tonight, he held the off the Gophers for nearly two periods. The Gophers did not solve Walsh until 15:33 into the second period. A goal by Nate Condon late in the second period that squeaked through Walsh seemed to break his momentum. The Gophers scored two more goals in the third period to win the game. In total Walsh made 86 saves this weekend. He was clearly the brightest Beaver of the series. In the end, the Gophers simply had too much firepower.

Final Five is Next

Minnesota moves on to next week's WCHA Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Gophers will play Friday night in the semifinals against an opponent to be determined. The Gophers will be making their second-straight appearance in the WCHA Final Five after missing the event the previous two seasons. Minnesota will need to win two games next week in order to capture their first Broadmoor Trophy since 2007.

 

Story by Minnesota Communications Student Intern Josh Brennock

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 2 Bemidji State 1 (OT)

| No TrackBacks

Thoughts from Minnesota's 2-1 overtime win against Bemidji State

 

Minnesota Takes Game One

Minnesota captured game one of the WCHA playoff series tonight at Mariucci Arena by a score of 2-1 in overtime. Kyle Rau scored the winning goal. Minnesota recorded 51 shots on goal, dominating the shot counter in every period of the game. Bemidji State's goalie Andrew Walsh was spectacular, turning aside 49 Gopher shots and giving time for the Beavers to find the equalizer with just 38 seconds left in the third period. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox made plenty of great saves, including two breakaways in regulation and a big kick save in overtime.

 

 Overtime Winner From Rau

Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal 13:18 into the first period of overtime. The goal came by way of a Nick Bjugstad face off win. Off the draw, the puck came to Christian Isackson who quickly got the puck back to the point for Nate Schmidt. Schmidt's shot was blocked, but it came right to Rau. Kyle made no mistake in putting the puck past Andrew Walsh to win the game for the Gophers. It was the Gophers first postseason game to go to overtime since 2008. That year, the Gophers played four overtime games in the WCHA playoffs alone. The goal was Rau's seventh game-winning goal of the season.

 

Minnesota Gets in Front

Minnesota broke the scoreless tie 6:56 into the second period. Ben Marshall skated into a seam right in the slot in front of Andrew Walsh. He was set up by a neat feed from Kyle Rau. Rau was below the goal line and found Marshall after chasing down a puck he dumped in and found enough space to get the puck out to the slot. Both Ben Marshall and Kyle Rau had successful weekends at Bemidji last week. In two games, Ben Marshall picked up a goal and an assist. Kyle Rau had three assists up in Bemidji. The goal would hold up until 38 seconds left in the third period when Brance Orban tied the score on the Beavers 11th shot of the game.

 

Gophers Control First Period, Lack Scoring Touch

The Gophers dominated most the first period on the shot counter. After 20 minutes, Minnesota led in shots 14-3. Captain Zach Budish was the most active Gopher around the net. He registered a team-high three shots, matching Bemidji State as a team, in the period. Nate Schmidt displayed his skill by creating good opportunities from the point and using his wheels to go coast-to-coast with the puck. Despite the territorial edge, the Gophers were unable to solve Bemidji goaltender Andrew Walsh. The Gophers dominance would continue throughout the whole game.

 

Rematch Tomorrow

Minnesota will attempt to sweep the series and advance to the WCHA Final Five tomorrow night. Sweeps have not come easy for the Gophers at Mariucci Arena this season. Minnesota's only home sweep this season came against Alaska Anchorage in early January. The Gophers now have won three consecutive playoff games at Mariucci, including last year's sweep of Alaska Anchorage.

Gophers Meet the Media: WCHA/Bemidji State

| No TrackBacks
Hear what members of the Minnesota men's hockey program had to say at Wednesday's media availability. The Gophers open the 2013 WCHA Playoffs this weekend with a best-of-three series at Mariucci Arena. Tickets for the series are still available at MyGophersports.com

Wally's Word: Bemidji State

| No TrackBacks
Don't miss this week's edition of Wally's Word as Wally Shaver recaps Minnesota's sweep over Bemidji State last weekend and looks forward to a rematch with the Beavers this weekend in the WCHA playoffs. 


NHL: Kessel, Wheeler Combine for Four Goals in Winnipeg

| No TrackBacks
Former Gophers Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler accounted for four of the seven goals scored in last night's 5-2 win for the Winnipeg Jets over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The pair of forwards notched two goals apiece starting with this unique, stick-breaking shot by Kessel that tied the game at 1-1 just 38 seconds into the second period. 


Wheeler didn't wait long after his fellow Gopher to score his own strange goal -- lighting the lamp 25 seconds later to claim a 2-1 lead for the Jets. 


Winnipeg's second leading scorer this year added his 10th goal of the year later went on to make it 5-1 Jets at 12:53 of the third period. 

Kessel closed out the night with this put back for his ninth goal of the season and 25th point -- tying the former Gopher for Toronto's scoring lead. 

 

Noteworthy

-Thomas Vanek scored the game winner in Toronto's 3-1 win over the New York Rangers with a very Thomas Vanek-esque goal. 

Gophers Build Case for NCAA Tourney Bid

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! MNB1G
Go Gophers!

By Jeff Fett
GopherSports.com

The Gopher men's basketball team is feeling the urgency to get a few more wins to hopefully solidify their NCAA tournament fate as they enter the B1G Basketball Tournament later this weekend in Chicago (Gophers play Illinois Thursday at 11 a.m.).

The year has moved quickly with the team experiencing a wide range of emotions this season. Starting guard Austin Hollins says the team just needs to win.

Go Gophers! Trev
Go Gophers!
Trevor Mbakwe and the ninth-seeded Gophers will take on eighth-seeded Illinois Thursday in the opening round of the B1G Tournament.
Go Gophers!
"The season has flown by so fast so its come down to this and you know we got to win out, that's our goal right now," Hollins said. "(When we) get to the Big Ten Tournament, we need to win the Big Ten Tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament, so you know we got our goals set still. We're still trying to achieve those (goals) so it's just a matter of taking care of business."

The Gophers have built their case to be in the NCAA Tourney. With quality wins over Stanford, Memphis, Richmond, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the Gophers have put themselves in the discussion for an at large berth.

Minnesota also has a myriad of other factors in their favor. Their strength of schedule is second in the nation and their opponents' strength of schedule is tops in the nation.

The Gophers RPI is also among the top 20 in the nation. The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is important, because it measures a team's strength of schedule and the records of the teams in which they play as well.

The Gophers also are 13-9 against opponents with an RPI in the top 100 in the nation.

With the tournament season upon them, head coach Tubby Smith says Minnesota needs to remain focused.

"We know we've got a chance to get to the post-season and play in the NCAAs, but we've got a lot of work to do and I think our guys have to stay hungry and focused and take it one day at a time and one game at a time, then everything else will take care of itself if we do that," Smith said.

"We've shown we can play with anyone... We expected to be better in the Big 10, but we've beaten Michigan State, Wisconsin and others. We've beaten some good teams and with Indiana, we've competed with some good teams in the top 20 and top 100. We have the toughest schedule in college basketball, so we know what we're capable of."

Lucia on BU Coach Jack Parker's Retirement

| No TrackBacks

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia on Boston University head coach Jack Parker (On Monday, Parker announced that the 2012-13 season will be his last at the reigns of the program after 40 years as head coach of the Terriers):

"When you think of BU hockey, you think of Jack Parker. Forty years with one school will never happen again," Lucia said. "Jack is someone who I have respected and looked up to since I started coaching, and he's had a phenomenal career with the program." 

Don't Miss Tonight's Don Lucia Radio Show

| No TrackBacks
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 discuss the thrilling end to this year's WCHA points race -- the tightest race in league history -- that saw Minnesota and St. Cloud State share the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions. Also on the docket for tonight's show is a preview of Minnesota's upcoming WCHA First Round series against Bemidji State this weekend at Mariucci Arena. 

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: Frazee Makes NHL Debut with New Jersey

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! TopTen
  Jeff Frazee
Go Gophers!
In case you missed it, former Gopher goaltender Jeff Frazee made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils over the weekend -- relieving John Hedberg for the third period of a 6-3 loss to Carolina. Frazee, who was called up from Albany on Wednesday, made three saves on three shots in the game. 

A second round pick by the Devils (38th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Frazee is the 14th former Gopher to play in the NHL this season. The Edina, Minn., native is the eighth Gopher netminder to play in the NHL and the first since Adam Hauser in 2005-06.

Noteworthy:

*Paul Martin and Phil Kessel combined for five points in Saturday's match up between Pittsburgh and Toronto. Martin had a goal and an assist in a 5-4 shootout win for the Penguins while Kessel notched a goal and two assists. Martin's goal -- his fifth of the year -- tied a career-high for the defenseman, who has 17 points in 24 games this season.  

*Nick Leddy had an assist in Chicago's 6-5 loss to Edmonton on Sunday.


NHL: Vanek Blasts Home His 28th Point of the Year

| No TrackBacks
Former Gopher Thomas Vanek picked up his 12th goal and 28th point of the season with this one-timer in a 3-2 shootout loss for the Buffalo Sabres to the New Jersey Devils. 


Vanek currently leads the Sabres in points and ranks fifth in the NHL this season. 

'U' Alum Harrington Named MVP of Asia League

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Former Gopher Chris Harrington has been named the Asia League Ice Hockey Player of the Year after guiding the Oji Eagles to a regular-season title with 32 wins in 42 games. 

Now in his third year with the team, Harrington tallied 36 points this season for the Eagles, who open the Asia League Ice Hockey Semifinals on Saturday against Anyang Halla. 

The former Gophers defenseman helped Minnesota capture the 2003 NCAA title as a All-WCHA Rookie selection and added an All-WCHA Third Team honor in his senior season. In 170 career games, Harrington tallied 109 points (14 goals, 95 assists) -- ranking the blue liner among the top-ten in school history for career points and assists by a defenseman. 

Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Want to watch Saturday's regular-season finale with other die-hard Gopher fans? 

Come to the official viewing party of Saturday's Minnesota/Bemidji State game at Buffalo Wild Wings (Station 19) on campus to celebrate the Gophers' final Western Collegiate Hockey regular-season contest and send the team into the league playoffs in style. 

Saturday's viewing party starts at 6:30 p.m. with tons of Gopher Hockey giveaways and free t-shirts for the first 100 fans to show up. The Gopher Hockey cheerleaders will also be in attendance to help fans cheer on the team as they fight for home ice and the MacNaughton Cup in the tightest league race in WCHA history. 

Defending The Blue Line Presents Gophers With Combat Flag

| No TrackBacks
 

Wednesday's practice at Ridder Arena began with a special ceremony as the Gopher men's hockey team was presented with a combat-flown U.S. flag from members of Defending The Blue Line. 

The Gophers recently helped the organization raise more than $25,000 through an online auction of the team's commemorative jerseys from the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic game at Soldier Field -- Minnesota's first outdoor game in the modern era. The University of Minnesota and Mariucci Arena also hosted a charity game with Defending The Blue Line earlier this season. 

Defending The Blue Line is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that ensures children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey. The organization accomplishes this by providing free equipment for military kids, hockey camps, special events, and financial assistance for registration fees and other costs associated with hockey. Learn more about the organization at DefendingTheBlueLine.org.

Travel Blog: Former Gophers Travel to the Tournament

| No TrackBacks

Friday, March 8 - 3:00 p.m.

Minnesota suffered a tough loss to Ohio State on Thursday night, but the Big Ten Tournament still provided a chance for the team, fans and former players to connect. Some former Gophers traveled to Hoffman Estates to see their old team play. Zoe Harper, Kristen Dockery and China Antoine all met up to watch some basketball and spend the weekend together. Brittany McCoy was also in attendance.

Go Gophers! China Antoine
Go Gophers!
Antoine was one of the former Gophers in attendance.
Go Gophers!

Harper plays professional basketball in Australia and works for a logistics company, Dockery works at a fitness club, and Antoine works in corporate fitness. All three visited our hotel after the game on Thursday.

Before they had an opportunity to reconnect with former Gophers, the current Gophers had a game to play. It was pretty quiet when we returned to Sears Centre, as the arena had cleared out after the second game of the day. It started getting louder as tipoff approached.

The Minnesota pep band, cheerleaders and Goldy all traveled to the tournament to help encourage the Gophers. Family, friends and loyal fans formed a loud cheering section behind the Minnesota bench. A Gopher pep band member even won the halftime "Simon says" competition.

After the Buckeyes had won the game, we all had dinner back at the hotel. It was nice to be able to sleep another night in Hoffman Estates and fly back to Minneapolis in the morning. We got back safely on Friday afternoon. Thanks to everyone who supported the team on this road trip.

Thursday, March 7 - 1:15 p.m.

Game day has arrived for the Gophers at the Big Ten Tournament. After a delicious breakfast this morning, the Gophers had a walk-through to go over some last preparations for Ohio State. Overall, it was a relaxing morning at the hotel.

Go Gophers! Katie Loberg
Go Gophers!
Loberg is ready for her final Big Ten Tournament.
Go Gophers!

Most of the travel party loaded the bus to take a first look at the inside of the Sears Centre. We arrived before the first game, Iowa vs. Northwestern, tipped off. The Sears Centre is a relatively new multi-purpose facility. Its other uses include indoor football and soccer. Based on our walk to our seats for the first game, it seemed like the concourses were nice and wide for the fans.

We watched most of the first half of the game before heading back out to the bus. Iowa's pep band and mascot, who were close to where we sat, also provided some entertainment.

This will be the last Big Ten Tournament in a Gopher uniform for Minnesota seniors Katie Loberg and Leah Cotton. Loberg has liked her stay in Hoffman Estates so far, and is ready to get on the court.

"I'm pretty excited for this," Loberg said. "You kind of get this new spark of energy whenever the Big Ten Tournament rolls around. I'm wide awake and ready to win."

The Gophers have beaten Ohio State twice this season and will try to make it a three-peat tonight in the 8-seed vs. 9-seed game. The winner will face 1-seed Penn State tomorrow. Tonight's game will appear on BTN at 6 p.m. CT.

Wednesday, March 6 - 9:30 p.m.

As the Big Ten Tournament slogan says, "March is on." One of the most fun sports months of the year has begun. The Minnesota women's basketball team is part of the excitement, with its first conference tournament game against Ohio State at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Go Gophers! Rachel Banham
Go Gophers!
Banham and the Gophers arrived in Hoffman Estates today.
Go Gophers!

The Golden Gophers arrived in Hoffman Estates, Ill., Wednesday evening. A travel party of players, coaches and team and department staff (including athletics director Norwood Teague) caught a chartered flight to Midway Airport this afternoon. After a nice short plane trip, we bused to our hotel. We passed the Sears Centre, which is hosting the tournament, on the way.

A few other teams are staying in the same hotel, and Big Ten school balloons and banners adorn the lobby area. Our room keys even have the Big Ten Tournament logo on them.

After the team meal and film session, Rachel Banham had a chance to reunite with one of her former teammates from Lakeville North High School, Cassie Rochel. Rochel is a junior for the Wisconsin Badgers, who are staying in the same hotel. The two met in the lobby to catch up.

"I'm glad that we're able to be with them, especially because there are only three teams here," Banham said. "We were texting all day wanting to meet up. I think it's fun that she's in this tournament so I can watch her and hope she does well, and just be around her again."

Wisconsin is on the opposite side of the bracket from Minnesota, so the high school teammates would both need to make the title game to face each other again this season. Right now, the Gophers' focus is on tomorrow night's game against Ohio State.

"I think we're all really pumped," Banham. "It's going to be a big game tomorrow. We've beaten them twice. It's hard to beat a team three times. They know what to expect, and we know how they play. I think we're all really prepared and we're ready just to get out there tomorrow and play."

Gophers Meet the Media: Bemidji State

| No TrackBacks

Minnesota closes out the regular season with a trip to Bemidji State to take on the Beavers. Members of the team met with the media Wednesday to discuss the key points of this weekend.

The Gophers enter the weekend with a realistic opportunity to claim the their second-straight MacNaughton Cup. They sit just two points behind league-leader St. Cloud State, but they are more focused on rounding their own game into shape for the postseason.

"We want to play well. We do not control whether we get a piece of (the MacNaughton Cup). You certainly don't want to leave points on the table. Our focus is playing well on Friday night and see where we are at," head coach Don Lucia said.

Forward Nate Condon added, "It is about getting our game going and playing up to the level we can."

The WCHA standings are historically tight heading into the final weekend. Minnesota can still finish anywhere from first to seventh in the conference.

"It is the most dramatic in my 20 years in the WCHA," Lucia said. "Like many people have said, this is probably the way it should be in the final year of the conference configuration the way it is."

Bemidji State plays a style focused on keeping the puck along the boards and chipping the puck off the glass when possible. It can be frustrating to play against for a team predicated on speed and skill, like the Gophers.

"The most important thing for us is we have to be patient," Lucia said.

The team had a disappointing effort last Friday night against Denver. The team knows they will have to be better, "I think it was a good lesson for us," Justin Holl said. " I think we were more ready to play on Saturday, and it showed what we can do when we are engaged." It is on the players to perform at the level they are capable of.

"We do not want to play like we did last weekend. We know we let ourselves down," Condon said.

Friday night's game at the Sanford Center is at 7:30 p.m. and will be carried live on Fox Sports North. Saturday's regular-season finale is at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports North Plus.

Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Gophers Learn From the Best

| No TrackBacks


Photo Gallery


Can you believe it?! March Madness is already upon us, and with the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament just days away, Minnesota women's basketball head coach Pam Borton found a special way to get her team into the spirit of the season. She brought two people into practice that not only know what it takes to make it to the NCAA Final Four, but did so in a Golden Gopher uniform - Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville.

The two former Minnesota standouts will be reunited as teammates on the hardwood this summer for the Minnesota Lynx, but on Tuesday afternoon they were back together on the court at Williams Arena. The pair shared some words of wisdom with the Gophers prior to the start of practice, before giving them a few lessons on the court. The day's practice came to a close with Whalen and McCarville each sharing their most memorable experiences from their college days at Minnesota.  

Not only was it great for the Gophers to have two of the top WNBA players in the country face-off with them in practice, but it motivated them knowing that Whalen and McCarville were in their same shoes just a few short years ago and changed the landscape of the Minnesota women's basketball program forever.    

NHL: Kessel Ices Win Over Devils

| No TrackBacks
Check out Phil Kessel's insurance goal in last night's 4-2 Toronto win over New Jersey -- impressive from one end of the ice to the other. 


Also worth noting from the clip, Monday's goal was Kessel's first at home in over 11 months (although that's only a stretch of 10 games). In 23 games this season, the Maple Leafs forward has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists). 

Don't Miss Tonight's Don Lucia Radio Show

| No TrackBacks
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 discuss this year's Western Collegiate Hockey Association points race -- one of the closest ever in the league's history. The pair will also hit on Minnesota's split last weekend with Denver and preview this weekend's series at Bemidji State -- the final WCHA regular-season series ever for the Maroon and Gold. 

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). 

Gophers Participate In Pro Day

| No TrackBacks

(Video courtesy of GopherGridiron.com)

The Minnesota football team held its pro day this morning at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. Representatives from 13 NFL teams were in the Twin Cities to watch the former Gophers workout.

Seniors from last year's team Michael Carter, Keanon Cooper, MarQueis Gray, Brandon Green, John Rabe, Mike Rallis, Spencer Reeves, Troy Stoudermire and Jordan Wettstein joined former Gophers and players from smaller schools in the workout.

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 5 Denver 1

| No TrackBacks


The Gophers defeated the Pioneers 5-1 tonight.

Gopher's Respond

Just a night after getting shutout for the first time in nearly two years, the Gophers responded by scoring five goals in defeating the Denver Pioneers. The win means Minnesota has not lost a weekend series all year. The win also ended a three-game losing streak to the Pioneers. The offense came alive in the third period. Nick Bjugstad's power-play goal kicked off a four-goal rush for the Gophers in the final frame. Adam Wilcox wrapped up a spectacular weekend by making 31 saves in net.


Second Period Ignites the Crowd

Despite 15 shots in the first period, the Gophers trailed by a goal heading into the second period. Zach Budish scored the equalizer for Minnesota 9:03 into the second period. The goal was of the greasy variety. Zach continued to whack at the puck on the edge of the crease while skaters from both sides and Denver goalie Sam Brittain were sprawled out on the ice. Zach was finally able to push the puck over the line. In the closing moments of the period, both teams had great chances to take the lead. Kyle Rau broke in all alone, but was denied by Brittain. At the other end of the ice, Wilcox made multiple 10-bell saves on breakaways. With all the action on the ice, the crowd reached a decibel level normally reserved for North Dakota games.


Power Back On Just In Time

Minnesota came into the weekend with the best power play in the country. However, last night the power play went dark. In five tries, the Gophers generated very little offense and gave up top-notch opportunities with the extra skater. Tonight, they converted only once in four opportunities, but It came at a critical time. Erik Haula set Nick Bjugstad up on a tee to blast home what would be the game-winning goal from the left circle 9:52 into the period. Power play success will be critical to the Gophers this postseason.


Third Period Worth the Wait

Minnesota generated just 10 shots in the third period, but four of them found the back of the net. Goals from Bjugstad, Holl, Warning, and an empty-netter from Budish made the final score look rather comfortable. Holl scored his second goal of the season. Warning showed great effort and speed all night. He ended the night with a +2 rating and two points. He also hit the pipe on another scoring chance. Erik Haula also had a strong night, posting three assists to earn the number-one star.

 

Helgeson's Night

Seth Helgeson played his last regular-season game for the Maroon & Gold at Mariucci Arena tonight. There was a ceremony to honor Helgeson, the team's only senior, before the game. He collected an assist on Zach Budish's second goal tonight. In his four years in Minneapolis, Helgeson was rarely found on the score sheet, but his impact is certaintly felt by his teammates. Seth is admired for his toughness and character off the ice. Coach Lucia said earlier this week, "When you do not notice him, he is at his best." His point tonight was an added bonus. Helgeson has played in 144 games to this point for the Gophers.

 

Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

NHL: Okposo Goes Off for Three Points

| No TrackBacks
Former Gopher Kyle Okposo ended the month of February with a bang on Thursday night, tallying a goal and two assists in the New York Islanders' 5-4 loss to Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

The forward's second goal of the year erased a 4-3 deficit for New York and forced overtime although the Maple Leafs went on to pick up the win. For the season, Okposo has eight points (two goals, six assists). 

Check out all three of Okposo's sweet points from last night, starting with his goal: 


Okposo's first assist of the night was equally impressive on Thursday: 


His second helper of the night wasn't bad either: 



Noteworthy: 

*Jim O'Brien suffered a similar fate to Okposo on Thursday, scoring to force overtime only for the Ottawa Senators to lose 2-1 in overtime to Boston. The former Gopher has a career-best five goals this season and needs just one point to match a career-high. Here's his goal from last night: 



*Nick Leddy picked up an assist in Chicago's 3-0 win at St. Louis on Thursday. 

*Blake Wheeler added an empty-net goal in Winnipeg's 3-1 win over New Jersey. The former Gopher now has 17 points this season.