May 2013 Archives

Gophers In Summer Ball Action

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Like every year and many teams across college baseball, University of Minnesota players take time to play in various summer ball action throughout the country. Gopher Baseball will have 10 current players competing in the Northwoods League this summer. Ben Meyer and Connor Schaefbauer will compete in the Cape Cod League with the Brewster Whitecaps, while some Gophers will play for legion or town ball teams. Along with the current Gophers, included is where some of the incoming freshmen will be competing this summer.

Gopher Baseball In Summer League Action

Jake Bergren-Alexandria Blue Anchors (Northwoods)
David Bettenburg-St. Paul Capitals
Joey Brettingen-St. Paul Capitals
Alec Crawford-Eau Claire Express (Northwoods)
Kyle Crocker-Brainerd Bees
Matt Halloran-Rochester Honkers (Northwoods)
Michael Handel-Madison Mallards (Northwoods)
Alex LaShomb- Miesville Mudhens
Bobby Juan-La Crosse Loggers (Northwoods)
Ben Meyer-Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod League)
Dan Olinger-Alaska
Dalton Sawyer-St. Cloud Rox (Northwoods)
Chris Schaaf-Long Beach Legends
Connor Schaefbauer-Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod)
Tony Skjefte-Minneapolis Lakers
Jordan Smith-Chaska Cubs
Matt Stemper-Burnsville
Mark Tatera-Duluth Huskies (Northwoods)
Lance Thonvold-Eau Claire Express (Northwoods)
Troy Traxler-La Crosse Loggers (Northwoods)
Alex Tukey-Battle Creek Bombers (Northwoods)

Incoming Gopher Freshmen
Matt Fielder-Eagan Legion
Austin Athmann-Cold Spring Legion
Brian Glowicki-Longshots (Ill.)
Cody Campbell-Longshots (Ill.)
Tyler Hanson-Burnsville Legion
Joe Martinson-Excelsior Legion
Toby Anderson-Nampa Legion

'U' Alum Larry Ross Named to "M" Club Hall of Fame

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Go Gophers!Larry Ross during his tenure as head coach at International Falls High School (Duluth News Tribune)

Gopher hockey All-American and long-time International Falls High School coach Larry Ross will be one of 10 individuals inducted into the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame this year. 

A native of Duluth, Minn., and graduate of Morgan Park High School, Ross was a First Team All-American in goal for the Gophers in 1951 after serving in the Navy. The netminder would go on to an incredible prep coaching career at International Falls High School -- leading the Broncos to six Minnesota state titles and a 566-169-21 record including a 58-game unbeaten streak from 1964-66. 

He received numerous honors and accolades, and even wrote a book entitled "Hockey For Everyone."  He was later honored by his peers in 1983, when he was named Coach of the Year by the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association.  Then, in 1985, he was awarded the National High School Special Sports award by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, while in 1988, he was the recipient of the John Mariucci College Award for his contribution to College Hockey by the American College Hockey Coaches Association. 

Ross, who passed away in 1995, was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. 

The 2013 class of inductees are Jon Andresen (baseball), Jim Carter (football/hockey), Natalie Darwitz (women's hockey), Rick Naumoff (men' tennis), Charlie Sanders (football), Krissy Wendell Pohl (women's hockey), Gary Wilson (Women's Cross Country and Women's Track & Field), Lloyd LaMois (men's track), Louis Lick (men's golf) and Larry Ross (men's hockey). La Mois, Lick and Ross will be inducted into the Pioneer Division, which honors those who were at Minnesota prior to 1955.

The official induction of the 2013 class will take place during a ceremony to be held in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 24. A social hour beginning at 6 p.m. will kick off the event, with the main program starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event will be available for purchase through the Gopher Athletics Ticket Office online at mygophersports.com or by calling 1-800-U-Gopher beginning August 15.

The University of Minnesota "M" Club is a nonprofit organization representing all letterwinners from University of Minnesota athletics teams. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor achievements and to preserve the tradition of those athletes, coaches and athletic staff members who have contributed in an outstanding and positive way to the University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Department.

The criteria for induction to the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame include four different categories: significant accomplishments by a former student-athlete; significant achievements by a former coach or administrator; significant contributions of time, talent or resources to the athletics department by someone other than an athlete, coach or administrator, and significant professional achievement by a former Minnesota student-athlete.

Former student-athletes inducted for significant accomplishments become eligible for selection five years after the expiration of their eligibility, while former coaches and staff members must have served the department for five years to be eligible. 



What They're Saying - May 21

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Ra'Shede Hageman: Super Freak (CBSSports.com)

Coach Kill was on the road last week for the #GopherRoadTrip (New Ulm Journal, KEYC and KTOE)

The Man In Charge was also on the radio in Nebraska last week (1620 The Zone)

Cedric Thompson, Derrick Wells giving back to the community, making us #UMNProud (Star Tribune)

Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner are the coaches during the summer (Pioneer Press)

NCAA Softball Travel Blog: So Long, Seattle

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SEATTLE, WASH. -- Seattle is a great city, and it's been a nice place for Minnesota's first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003. It's been a fun experience for this team to compete at the Seattle Regional, and the Golden Gophers showed that they can compete with any team at this level.

This regional, as most do, had four teams with great pitchers, and junior right-hander Sara Moulton stood out by striking out 29 batters in three games to run her final season total to 308. A First Team All-Great Lakes Region and First Team All-Big Ten selection this season, Moulton went 32-12 this season, and she gives the Gophers the key ingredient they'll need to make a return to a regional during her senior season in 2014.

Minnesota loses catcher Kari Dorle and first baseman/designated player Alex Davis, and both will be missed. Dorle has been a rock behind the plate for the Gophers, as she started 214 of 216 possible games over the past four years. Davis and Dorle each finish their careers with 23 home runs, and Davis was recently named to the Big Ten's All-Tournament Team.

But the future of this program is bright, as the vast majority of this team's offensive production and all of its pitching returns for next season. The Gophers have combined to hit 101 home runs over the past two years, and Minnesota has won 30-plus games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004, when it ended a nine-year stretch of 30 or more victories per season.

Head coach Jessica Allister has returned the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament after a nine-year absence and has built the foundation of a program that has the potential to have sustained success for several years.

It's tough to put a wrap on such a fun season, but only one team in the NCAA Tournament gets to end its season with a win. This season has truly been a journey. Of Minnesota's 55 games, 49 were played outside of Minneapolis. That's a testament to the strength and resiliency of this program. It doesn't matter where they play, these Gophers are able to focus on the task at hand -- competing hard, giving it their best effort, and more often than not, winning the game.

So long, Seattle.

NCAA Softball Travel Blog: Video of Wednesday's Fun

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SEATTLE -- Here's an awesome video of what the team was up to on Wednesday. Michael Kyllo-Kittleson works her magic once again! This is so much fun to watch, and it shows you some of the things I wrote about below.
Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Corey Millen
Go Gophers!
Former Gopher great and 14-year NHL veteran Corey Millen has been named the head coach of the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League, the organization announced yesterday in a press release. 

Millen is a Cloquet, Minnesota native and has had previous head coaching experience in the NAHL with the Wasilla Spirit and Alaska Avalanche organization, mostly recently during the 2011-12 season.

"I am very excited to be back coaching in the NAHL," said Millen. "My experiences in the league have been a lot of fun and ones that are memorable." As for going back to his home state of Minnesota and hometown of Cloquet, Millen said that he is looking forward to the familiarity and opportunity. "It is a great opportunity because of the people I know and the knowledge I have of the area. The location of the Wilderness is very exciting because the league continues to grow the footprint into areas that are passionate about hockey and located close to so many NCAA schools. I think it will give us a great chance to be successful on the ice and also moving players onto the next level."

One of the most productive players to ever come through the University of Minnesota, Millen ranks third in program history with 241 points (119 goals, 122 assists in 149 career games) behind only John Mayasich and Pat Micheletti. The forward was a Second Team All-American in 1986 and a three-time All-WCHA honoree (1984-85, 85-86, 86-87). He also captained the Gophers program in the 1986-87 season before starting a pro career that lasted 14 years and included stints with the New York Rangers (who drafted Millen in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft), the Los Angeles Kings, the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames. In 331 professional games, Millen tallied 209 points and 90 goals. 

"We are excited to welcome Corey Millen to the Wilderness organization," said Wilderness Owner and Governor Scott Thielen. "With his vast hockey knowledge and coaching experience, particularly at this level, we are confident he will lead our organization to become one of the best in the league."

NCAA Softball Travel Blog: Pike Place Market

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SEATTLE -- Following today's practice, the team went back to the hotel for a quick stop before heading off for a fun afternoon at Pike Place Market.

All but a few players were able to make the trip, and it was a perfect afternoon for wandering around and checking out all the fresh produce and seafood stands, as well as the various artists who sell their goods. It's such a cool area, located on Pike Hill that leads down to the waterfront of Elliott Bay.

We arrived at 1:00 p.m., and the team broke up into several groups. We decided to meet back where the bus dropped us off at 4:00 p.m., so that gave us plenty of time to check things out.

The group I was with included the coaching staff of Jessica Allister, Jessica Merchant, Piper Ritter and Dannie Skrove, as well as certified athletic trainer Jaime Hall, and student manager Tom Schreder, who completed his final test as an undergraduate student today! Congrats, Tom!

We immediately walked to the market where they toss the fish, and were entertained by their antics, as they showed off for the large crowds that gather to watch. Dannie even convinced one of the guys to toss a fish for her.

I didn't get to see this, and apparently there's video of it (thanks, Michael Kyllo-Kittleson!), but both Kaitlyn and Ty were allowed to catch and toss a fish! Hopefully, we'll be able to post that video for you soon.

While we were at that market, Coach Allister asked one of the guys for his recommendation for a great place to get some seafood for lunch, and he recommended a place called Etta's. Let's just say the guy knew what he was talking about, because it was fantastic! Most of us ordered fish and chips, with fresh cod, and the majority of us also ordered a cup of clam chowder, which was delicious! I've attached a pic of my plate in the pictures below -- not the healthiest choice, but who cares?

After lunch, we all walked down to the waterfront and checked out the amazing scenery of the snow-covered mountains on the horizon, with the beautiful bay and surrounding hills all around. It is so scenic.

Our group then split up, with the coaches deciding to head back up the hill to a grassy area near where the bus dropped us, and Dannie, Jaime, Tom and myself deciding to look for ice cream on the pier where there's a ferris wheel. We found a place with home made ice cream -- I had the odd combination of coffee caramel and banana. Those are two flavors I could not resist. For me, any time there's coffee ice cream, I'm in. Both flavors were great, but in hindsight, I'd go for two scoops of the coffee caramel.

After getting our ice cream, we walked back up the stairs to 1st Street, and eventually made our way back to the street where we started. I made one more purchase, stopping to buy a coffee at the original Starbucks, and then found most of the team hanging out on the grassy area where the coaches were sitting.

Many among us bought fruit from the farmer's market, and everyone seemed to have had a great afternoon enjoying life in one of Seattle's most famous hangouts. Today was a chance to have fun. Tomorrow, it's all about softball!

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SEATTLE -- Today, the team had breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to the University of Washington for its first chance to practice at Husky Softball Stadium.

The Gophers began by hitting in the Neil Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility located adjacent to the softball field. It's a very nice indoor practice area for several sports. The Gophers spent an hour inside.

Minnesota then spent a little more than an hour practicing on the field at picturesque Husky Softball Stadium, and several players hit bombs that made a loud clank when they cleared the outfield wall and landed in the aluminum bleachers. It's a great location, and Washington has a proud softball history that includes a National Championship during 2009.

Below are some more pictures of the facility from this morning. The football stadium, which is undergoing a $300 million renovation, sits directly behind the softball stadium.

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NCAA Softball Travel Blog: Arrival in the Emerald City

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SEATTLE, WASH. -- Weeeeeeeeee're heeeeeeeerrrrrre!

The Golden Gophers have officially arrived in beautiful Seattle, Wash., or "The Emerald City," as it's known. Minnesota took a chartered flight on Sun Country Airlines early this morning, and we landed around 9:30 a.m. PT. The flight was smooth, and it was fun to see the Cascade Mountains and all the evergreens and picturesque scenery around the Seattle area as the flight descended.

With a charter, we were able to bypass the terminals, etc., and there was a bus waiting for us on the tarmac.As soon as our luggage was loaded directly from the plane to the bus, we drove to breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe, and we drove past Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field (amateur pictures below) on the way.

Within five minutes of arriving at our hotel, which is close to the UW campus, several players and staff members headed off to walk to the University Village shopping area. It's a very cool outdoor mall with lots of high-end retailers and specialty stores to go along with typical mall favorites like Gap, Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic.

A majority of the players headed directly to Lulu's, and were very excited. Tom, the student manager, and I found the "man area," which had a nice leather chair and a book by former Washington football coach Don James about "what it means to be Husky." That made me laugh...not at Coach James, but just that it was there in the middle of Lulu's.

This afternoon, the team will practice at Seattle University, and then we're headed to dinner in the Pike Place Market area. It's fun to be here, and to experience a little of Seattle before it's time to focus on the task at hand for all the players. Hope some of you are going to be able to join in us in the Pacific Northwest.

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What They're Saying - May 15

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BTN's Tom Dienhart says no Big Ten team will be coached better than Minnesota and says the Gophers could start 5-0

It's time to sign up for Date Night with Coach and Rebecca Kill. Hurry! Spots are limited (GoalLineClub.com)

Ra'Shede Hageman gives back to the community (@GopherFootball) and could take his play to the elite level this year (ESPN.com)

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover opens up about his weight loss (Star Tribune)



NCAA Softball Travel Blog: Media Stars

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- This afternoon, the team practiced at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for the last time this week before it departs for Seattle on Wednesday. Prior to practice at 2:30 p.m., head coach Jessica Allister and several players took part in interviews with members of the local media.

All four major television stations -- FOX 9 News, KARE-11, KSTP-5 and WCCO-4 -- were there, as well as Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Mike Grimm.

For me, one of the best rewards on days like today is to hear the positive feedback from the media personalities about how poised and well-spoken the members of this team are. Dawn Mitchell of FOX 9, in particular, was impressed with how all of the players she interviewed seemed very comfortable in front of the camera.

"Sometimes, a player will have a great personality, but they tense up when they get in front of the camera and the interview doesn't turn out as well as you'd like it," Mitchell said. "I was so impressed with all of the girls on this team, and we got a great sound bite from each one of them."

Some of the players who did interviews expressed a bit of anxiety to me about going in front of the cameras. It's not something we regularly get to do. I just told them to relax and explained that the questions were all going to be about softball, which is something they definitely know how to talk about, so there was no need to worry.

In the end, these Gophers did just fine. Just call them media stars.

NCAA Softball Travel Blog: The Stage is Set

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- For the first time since 2003, the University of Minnesota softball team will compete at an NCAA Regional.

The Gophers learned the thrilling news on Sunday night, as Minnesota received a coveted at-large berth into the field of 64 teams that have a chance to advance to a Super Regional and eventually make it to the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Minnesota will travel to Seattle, Wash., on Wednesday to play in the Seattle Regional at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium (pictured above).

Minnesota (35-17) is the third seed among the four teams in Seattle, and it will open play on Friday against second-seeded Hawai'i (43-11), the champion of the Big West Conference. The other game on Friday pits host Washington (38-15) against Portland State (25-29).

We're hoping this blog will become your go-to site for a fun, behind-the-scenes look at what the Golden Gophers are up to for the remainder of this season. This is not where you'll find a recap story or stats. Those will remain where you typically find them. This is where you'll find pictures and a brief story about the team's dinner at a nice restaurant, or some details about a practice, or fun tidbits and stories about what the team is up to during its trip to Seattle and, hopefully, beyond.

The stage is set. The Gophers have been working hard to reach this point since they began practicing and doing offseason workouts last fall. Minnesota is ready to throw its hat in the ring and give its best effort to advance as far as it can. This is the postseason. It's a whole new ballgame. Time to shine.

Pro Update: Weekend Round-Up

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Lots of alumni news over the weekend with the NHL playoffs and the 2013 IIHF World Championships underway over in Europe. 

First and foremost, check out Phil Kessel's game-winning goal from Sunday's 2-1 Toronto win over Boston that forced a deciding game seven on Monday in Boston. 


Equally impressive was Paul Martin's game-tying goal with 5:16 left in regulation on Saturday. Martin, who had an assist earlier in the game, forced overtime with the blast, and the Pittsburgh Penguins eventually advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals when Brooks Orpik scored in overtime. Pittsburgh won the series 4-2 to eliminate Kyle Okposo, Aaron Ness and the New York Islanders. The Penguins will face Ottawa in the next round. 

Martin now has six points (one goal, five assists) in six playoff games

 

- Nick Leddy and the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks will face seven-seed Detroit in a Western Conference semifinal after eliminating Minnesota 4-1 in first-round action. 

- With Hershey out of the AHL playoffs, the Capitals recalled Nate Schmidt to the organization's NHL roster on Friday. Washington faces Stu Bickel and the New York Rangers in a deciding game seven on Monday night. 

- The U.S. Men's National Team topped Germany 3-0 on Sunday in Helsinki to improve to 5-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) at the 2013 IIHF World Championships. 

Erik Johnson has two goals and two assists (including one in Sunday's win) while Nick Bjugstad has a pair of helpers. 

Team USA plays its final preliminary round game Tuesday vs. Slovakia at 4:15 a.m. CT. NBC Sports Network will televise the game live, and it will be streamed like in the U.S. through NBC Sports Live Extra. 

Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek has three goals and an assist for Austria, which closes out the prelims on Monday against Russia. 


Blog: The Early Bird Gets the Worm (or Free Tickets)

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!
Coach Guentzel with Morgan Adams
Go Gophers!
University of Minnesota student Morgan Adams had a busy schedule to keep on Wednesday morning -- going to class before rushing to Mariucci Arena to be the first in line for Gopher hockey student season tickets around 8 a.m. 

"Last year I couldn't buy season tickets, so I wanted to make sure that I got them for the upcoming season," Adams said, "I'm really excited to go to the games!"

Adams got more than she bargained for once the Gopher Athletics ticket office opened at 9 a.m. as Minnesota associate head coach Mike Guentzel surprised her by picking up the tab on her tickets as a thank you for supporting the Gophers. 

"It was really cool to meet Coach Guentzel. It was so awesome that he bought my tickets! He was a really nice guy."

Minnesota opens the 2013-14 season on Oct. 11 with the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena -- check out the full 2013-14 schedule here. 

Student season tickets are on sale now and can be ordered at the Gopher Athletics ticket office in Mariucci Arena or by visiting MyGophersports.com/students

Yesterday, we brought you NHL.com's feature on former Gopher Kyle Okposo and the St. Paul native's stellar play over the last month. 

Okposo continued to produce for the New York Islanders with a goal (his third goal and fourth point in four playoff games) in last night's 6-4 win over Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins that tied the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at 2-2. 

But it's not just that Okposo is scoring goals...it's how he's scoring them. 

Last night, Okposo evened the game at 3-3 in the second period (New York would go on to outscore the Penguins 3-1 in the third) when he threw a backhanded attempt from behind the net off Marc-Andre Fleury into the net. 


In game three's 5-4 overtime loss, Okposo tipped a no-look pass to himself to setup this shorthanded goal that started a two-goal rally to force overtime. 


And then there was the game two winner from Okposo when the forward blindly threw a shot towards the net that bounced off the wall, off Fleury and in to give the Islanders a 4-3 win. 


But our favorite's still probably this beauty from college...


NHL.com: Okposo Steps Up for Islanders

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Former Gopher Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders are back in action tonight with game four of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins. And while the Islanders are down 2-1 in the series, NHL.com's John Kreiser points out that the St. Paul native is playing his best hockey right now for New York. 



UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It's not surprising that the New York Islanders' best player thus far in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins is one of their first-round picks in a past NHL Draft. The surprise is which one.

While John Tavares, the first player chosen in 2009, is the focal point of the Islanders, 2006 first-rounder Kyle Okposo has been playing the best hockey of his career and given New York the kind of two-way production the team has been looking for since making him the seventh player chosen seven years ago.

Okposo and linemates Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey were arguably the Islanders' best forward unit in April, when New York used a season-closing 8-1-4 run to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. Okposo has carried his improved play into the postseason, scoring the winning goal in the Islanders' 4-3 victory in Game 2 and scoring the first shorthanded goal of his career to spark a third-period rally in Game 3 before the Penguins won 5-4 in overtime.

"I'm playing with a bit more of an edge," Okposo said after Monday's practice when asked what was different in his game. "You try to go out there and make an impact on the game, and I've been doing a better job of that. I didn't start the regular season [the way] I wanted to. I'm just trying to have a better postseason."

The Islanders have been waiting for Okposo to be a difference maker since they brought him to the NHL late in the 2007-08 season. He's shown flashes of the talent that attracted the Islanders, but has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his career.

After finishing the 2011-12 season on a hot streak that led to a career-high 24 goals, the Islanders moved him to right wing on Tavares' line to start this season. But the chemistry wasn't there, and he was moved back onto a line with Nielsen and Bailey. The trio took a while to click, but by late March they had provided the Islanders with a viable second scoring line -- preventing opponents from devoting all their energy to shutting down Tavares' line.

"We had confidence playing together from the past, and I think it carried over into this season," said Bailey, a first-round pick in 2008 who's had his own ups and downs. "We liked our game through the last portion of the season especially."
Bailey, who was moved to Tavares' line in Game 2, said Okposo has brought his game to a new level.

"He's been a horse for us all season," Bailey said. "But I think now you're really seeing the determination that he has and that he plays with. Lots of us have fed off that."

Through the first three games of this series, Okposo has done two things he'd never done before in his five-plus NHL seasons. He helped turn the momentum in Game 2 by battling Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen in his first NHL fight, then scored the first shorthanded goal of his career in Game 3.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said the lockout and the quick start to the season may have hurt Okposo's game.

"Some players with the lockout [had a] late start," Capuano said. "Midway through the season, he started to play like the Kyle Okposo we need him to play like.

"He's a great leader for us. He stepped up in Game 2 and did what he had to do. When a player is playing with confidence, he's moving his feet -- it lifts his whole game."

Perhaps the most notable trait Okposo has shown in recent weeks is his relentlessness. He's made life miserable for puck-carriers and has taken his compete level to a new high.

"I don't know if I would say more aggressive," he said when asked about changes in his play. "It's just finishing your hits and [being] harder on the puck. I think one of my best attributes is winning battles, and I've tried to elevate my battle level and try not to be denied."

Pro Update: Kessel Notches Second Playoff Goal

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Phil Kessel and Toronton fell to 5-2 to Boston on Monday night as the Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the NHL first-round playoff series. 

The former Gopher did notch his second goal of the playoffs in the contest, knocking home a loose puck just 47 seconds into the third period to make it a 4-2 game (Boston added an empty netter with just over a minute left). 


Game four of the series is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. CT. 

Noteworthy

-Also in NHL playoff action, Jordan Leopold and St. Louis fell 4-3 to defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles to even the series at 2-2. The New York Rangers topped Washington 4-3 to cut the series to 2-1 in favor of the Caps. Former Gopher Stu Bickel was a scratch for the Rangers. 

-Lots of Gophers in NHL action tonight. Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins take on Kyle Okposo, Aaron Ness and the New York Islanders tonight at 6 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 lead in the series. Nick Leddy and Chicago also hold a 2-1 lead over Minnesota and will hit the ice tonight at 8:30 CT on FOX Sports North and the NBC Sports Network. Jim O'Brien and Ottawa are up 2-1 on Montreal, and Keith Ballard and Vancouver are in a must-win game tonight against San Jose, down 3-0 in the series. 

-Still some Gophers in AHL action -- Hershey (Nate Schmidt, Ryan Potulny, Jeff Taffe, Ryan Stoa, Mike Carman) takes on Providence in a deciding game five of an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series tomorrow night. Jake Hansen and Springfield have already advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after winning a best-of-five series with Manchester 3-1. 

-Reminder: Minnesota has three alums in action today at the 2013 IIHF World Championships. Team USA (Nick Bjugstad, Erik Johnson) returns to action on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. CT against Russia on the NBC Sports Network. Thomas Vanek and Austria take on Latvia today. 


Pro Update: More Gophers Action in PIT/NYI Series

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We had more Gopher vs. Gopher NHL playoff action on Sunday as Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins topped Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders 5-4 in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series. 

Martin, who returned to the Penguins' lineup for the regular-season finale after an injury sidelined him for nearly a month, added a pair of assists in the win including this helper on Chris Kunitz's game-deciding, power-play goal at 8:44 of overtime. 


Martin now has three assists in three playoff games this season. 

Okposo, meanwhile, added a goal and an assist on Sunday after tallying the game winner on Friday for the Islanders. The former Gophers' short-handed goal on Sunday stopped a New York slide that saw Pittsburgh score four-straight goals after going down 2-0 early and started a rally that forced overtime.


IIHF World Championships Update 

The U.S. Men's National Team added a 4-1 win over Latvia on Sunday in Helsinki with Erik Johnson picking up an assist. Team USA returns to action on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. CT against Russia. Tuesday's game airs live on the NBC Sports Network. 

Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek and Austria fell 3-1 to France on Sunday with the former Gopher scoring Austria's only goal -- and his first of the tournament. Austria returns to action on Tuesday against Latvia. 
Lots of action on Friday night (and early Saturday morning) as the NHL playoffs continued and the 2013 IIHF World Championships got underway over in Europe. 

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the night was Kyle Okposo's game-winning goal in the New York Islanders' 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to even their playoff series at 1-1. The odd goal capped a dramatic comeback for the Islanders that saw Okposo's squad rally from a 3-1 deficit after the first period (and also saw Okposo drop the gloves). 


Also in NHL playoff action...Nick Leddy picked up an assist in Chicago's 5-2 win over Minnesota as the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the series. 

Gophers Face Off at World Championships

Erik Johnson scored twice and Nick Bjugstad added a pair of assists as the U.S. National Team rallied to beat Thomas Vanek and Austria 5-3 early Saturday morning in the 2013 IIHF World Championships opener. 

Johnson's first goal of the game tied the contest at 2-2 with a primarily assist from Bjugstad in a "Gopher on Gopher connection," according to Johnson. 

"To come in and contribute in the first game is definitely big," Johnson said after the game. "To get the first one out of the way with a win, especially coming down from a two-goal deficit early in the game, is big for our club. We can't get comfortable, just have to keep going and get better from here." 

Highlights via USA Hockey


Team USA returns to action on Sunday vs. Latvia at 12:15 p.m. CT. NBC Sports Live Extra will stream the game live in the U.S. with NBC Sports Network televising the game on tape delay at 12:15 a.m. CT on May 6. 

Gophers Meets in IIHF World Championships Opener

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Former Gophers Erik Johnson, Nick Bjugstad and Thomas Vanek will open the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships on opposite ends of the ice on Saturday morning as Bjugstad and Johnson's U.S. team takes on Vanek and the Austrian team. 

Just a reminder that NBC Sports Network will carry all of the U.S. team's action throughout the tournament including tomorrow's 4:15 a.m. opener. Here's a full broadcast schedule from USA Hockey.

Also here's the link to USA Hockey's World Championships page

And USA game notes for the Austria game. 


Mayasich, Woog Selected for MSHSL Hall of Fame

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Go Gophers!
MN_IND
Go Gophers!

















Gopher hockey greats John Mayasich and Doug Woog will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Hall of Fame later this month in St. Paul. 

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. The public is invited to attend. For event tickets, contact the League office at 763-560-2262 or go to the League website -- MSHSL.org -- and click on the 2013 Hall of Fame Invitation link on the home page.

The League's Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo, was started in 1991. The 2013 class is the 20th group to be inducted. The inductees were chosen through a multi-level selection process that included League member schools and a committee of athletics, fine arts, and educational leaders. This year's class brings the Hall of Fame membership to 196.

From the MSHSL...

John Mayasich, Athlete
His name will be forever linked to amateur hockey in Minnesota. John Mayasich is simply one of the greatest players ever to lace up skates in the state. At Eveleth High School he set his reputation in stone, playing on four state championship teams from 1948 to 1951, setting 10 individual state tournament records that remarkably still stand today. 

He scored a record total of 46 points, 36 goals, and 7 hat tricks in four tournaments. In 1951 he scored the most goals in one tournament -- 15, including a record seven goals in one game. The Eveleth team's four consecutive championships also still stands as a tournament record. The team went an undefeated 69-0 over that four-year stretch.

Mayasich continued his stellar career at the University of Minnesota. From 1952 to 1955 the perennial All-American became the Gophers' all-time leading scorer with 144 goals and 154 assists in 111 games. His 298 points remain the most in school history.

Mayasich set scoring records and won many WCHA and NCAA tournament honors, including MVP and Player of the Year. He was a member of the 1956 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic hockey team and the 1960 gold medal team.

This Minnesota all-time hockey great has been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the National High School Hall of Fame and the "M" Club Hall of Fame. The Gophers retired Mayasich's No. 8 jersey, the only former Golden Gopher to be so honored.

Doug Wood, Coach/Athlete
Doug Woog was considered one of the premier amateur athletes of his era. At South St. Paul High School he earned nine varsity letters in football, baseball and hockey, but it was on the hockey rink that he dominated. The perennial all-state player led the Packers to four state hockey tournaments from 1959 to 1962. The team's best finishes came in 1961 and in 1962 when the Packers finished second and third, respectively. Woog's superior tournament play earned him a place on the all-tournament team three times.


Following high school, the star athlete attended the University of Minnesota to play under legendary coach John Mariucci. Woog led the Gophers in scoring in his junior year. As a senior he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and also received All-American honors.

Woog returned to South St. Paul High School in 1977 to coach the boys' hockey and soccer teams. The soccer teams he coached from 1977 to 1982 won four conference titles and played in four state tournaments, twice finishing as runners-up. He guided the Packers hockey teams to three state tournaments in his six seasons as head coach. The team finished third in 1978 and fourth in 1979. Woog's reputation landed him a stint as special assistant coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.

In 1985 he was named head hockey coach at the University of Minnesota, leading the Gophers to new heights. The team made 12 NCAA appearances in 14 seasons, six NCAA Final Four appearances, and Woog became the university's all-time winning coach with a 389-187-40 record. He resigned the post in 1999.

In 1989 Woog coached the U.S. Olympic Festival South Team to a gold medal. Woog is in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the South St. Paul High School Hall of Fame. He was awarded the American Hockey Coaches Association's John MacInnes Award for his work with youth and amateur hockey.