April 2014 Archives
USA Hockey Recap
Two members of this year's Gopher Hockey signing class won
gold on Sunday as members of the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team.
Jack Glover and Ryan Collins helped the U.S. to a 5-2 win
over the Czech Republic as the Red, White and Blue captured its eighth gold
medal at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World
Championships in Lappeenranta, Finland.
The U.S. went 6-1 at the tournament and rallied six-straight
wins to clinch gold at the tournament. After falling to Switzerland (2-4) in
the opening game, the U.S. topped the Czech Republic (3-0), Denmark (7-0) and
Finland (4-3) in the preliminary round. The team then beat Slovakia (6-2) in
the quarterfinals, Sweden (4-1) in the semifinals and finished off the
tournament against the Czech Republic (5-2) in the gold-medal game. The U.S.
also topped Germany (9-1) in a pre-tournament game.
Both defensemen for the U.S., Glover and Collins played in
all seven tournament games. Glover tallied four points at the event with a goal
and two assists while Collins notched a pair of assists for the U.S. including one in the gold-medal game.
Glover and Collins have been long-time teammates with the
U.S. National Development Team Program (USNDTP) in Ann Arbor, Mich., as well as
helping Benilde-St. Margaret's to the Minnesota State Class AA title in 2012.
A Golden Valley, Minn., native, Glover has 10 points (one
goal, nine assists) in 24 USHL games this season for the U.S. Under-18 Team
while Collins, who hails from Bloomington, Minn., has skated in 26 games for
the team this season with two assists.
Both Glover and Collins participated in the 2013 CCM/USA
Hockey All-American Prospects Game last September in Pittsburgh and are
eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
2004 Golden Gophers
The 2004 Big Ten champion Golden Gopher baseball team was
honored on the field during the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. The team
members in attendance received commemorative plaques during the presentation.
The 2004 Gophers won both the regular season and tournament
Big Ten titles. They won 13 of their last 17 games on the way to their third
straight regular season conference championship. Minnesota finished 21-10 in
conference play, ahead of second-place Ohio State.
The Gophers went on to beat Ohio State in the tournament
championship held at Siebert Field. The Buckeyes beat the Gophers in their
first try at the tournament title, forcing one more game between the two teams.
Minnesota won it 7-3 and Glen Perkins was named the tournament's Most
The Gophers had nine All-Big Ten selections, including Big
Ten Pitcher of the Year Perkins, Andy Hunter and Sam Steidl on the first team.
Mike Mee, Jake Elder and Craig Molldrem made the second team, while Luke
MacLean, Matt Fornasiere and David Hrncirik earned third-team status. John
Anderson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Minnesota made the NCAA Tournament and finished the season
All three NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series were evened up at 2-2 last night with four former Gophers in action including Alex Goligoski, who scored his first goal of the playoffs to put Dallas up 4-2 on Anaheim in Game Four of that series.
Goligoski now has two points (one goal, one assist) in four playoff games this season while the defenseman has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 19 career playoff games. The Minnesota alum as tallied four blocks, four hits and was plus-two in the win while also recording a game-high 32:48 of ice time as the game's No. 1 Star.
Paul Martin, meanwhile, stayed hot for the Pittsburgh Penguins also the team lost to Todd Richards' Columbus squad 4-3 in overtime. For the fourth-straight game, Martin tallied a pair of assists for Pittsburgh and now leads all NHL skaters with eight points and eight assists in this year's playoffs. Martin, who has made the playoffs in each of his 10 NHL seasons, needs just three points to match his career best 2-9--11 in 15 games last season).
In the third and final game on Wednesday, Nick Leddy and the Blackhawks topped Jordan Leopold and the Blues 4-3 to even that series at 2-2.
Only one Stanley Cup Playoff game with Gopher implications on the docket for Thursday as the Wild look to even the series against Colorado. Game Four is set for 8:30 p.m. CT on CNBC and FOX Sports North.
Aaron Kemp, the senior associate athletic director at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., has been named the new commissioner of the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association. He accepted a four-year agreement with the WCHA. Kemp, 38, succeeds Sara Martin, who has served as the guiding force of the women's WCHA since its founding in 1999. Martin will retire on June 30.
"I'm honored and excited for the opportunity to join the WCHA in this role," Kemp said. "The WCHA has identified itself as the premiere women's hockey conference, producing some of the most elite players in the game today. I'm thrilled to begin serving the member institutions and student-athletes. I'm committed to the same tradition of excellence and look forward to enhancing the overall operation and image of the league moving forward."
The WCHA executive committee put together a search committee to conduct a national search for the new commissioner. Kemp will get acquainted with the WCHA's coaches and administrators at the league's annual meetings in Marco Island, Fla. April 28-29 and plans to have his office in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
"On behalf of the entire Western Collegiate Hockey Association family, we are excited to announce Aaron Kemp as the next women's commissioner," said Bill Hudson, Professor at St. Cloud State University and Chair of the Association. "Aaron brings an extensive, proven background in both the sport of collegiate ice hockey and in athletic administration to the conference and we all look forward to working with him to both continue and expand on the WCHA's great tradition.
"Aaron is most passionate about hockey and has long been a strong proponent of student-athletes. As an administrator, he has overseen both women's and men's Division 1 ice hockey programs, he has a wealth of experience coaching both women's and men's collegiate teams, he has been involved in planning and organizing Frozen Fours and he has been a member of the NCAA hockey rules committee."
Kemp joined the athletic administration staff at Mercyhurst in June of 2008. He was promoted to Senior Associate Athletic Director/Mercyhurst North East Director of Athletics in June of 2011 after serving as the Associate Athletic Director/Director of Compliance on the Erie campus.
Kemp's primary responsibility was to provide the leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the Mercyhurst North East athletics program. He also had responsibilities to oversee the operation of the men's and women's hockey programs at Mercyhurst.
Prior to joining the administration, Kemp was an assistant men's hockey coach at his alma mater, Canisius College, from 2002-2004 and was a member of the women's hockey coaching staff at Mercyhurst from 2004-2008. Under head coach Michael Sisti, Mercyhurst compiled a 109-25-14 record during Kemp's time, boasting four College Hockey America Championships and four appearances in the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Kemp was part of the American Hockey Coaches Association NCAA Division 1 Staff of the Year for the 2004-2005 season and the CHA Staff of the Year the same season.
He has served on the executive committees for Atlantic Hockey and CHA conferences, was on the local organizing committee for the 2003 Men's Frozen Four, was the tournament director for the 2011 Women's Frozen Four and currently serves on the NCAA hockey rules committee.
Kemp earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1999 and a master's degree in Sports Administration in 2004, both at Canisius College. He is married to Darcey, the Dean of Students at Mercyhurst North East, and the couple has a son Jackson and two daughters, Ashlyn and Cierra.
Gophers head coach Brad Frost was a member of the search committee which selected Kemp.
"Aaron brings great experience in both the hockey and administrative world," said Frost, who has won two national titles at Minnesota and made three straight appearances in the NCAA title game. "He will do a tremendous job in taking our league to the next level."
Hudson, who chaired the search committee for a new commissioner, had high praise for Martin, the only leader the women's WCHA has ever had.
"I also want to take this opportunity to again thank retiring commissioner Sara Martin for all she had done to promote both the WCHA and women's collegiate ice hockey over the past 15 years," said Hudson. "Her commitment and dedication have been exemplary and we will always be grateful to her."
WCHA-member teams have appeared in a record 15 straight national championship games and captured 14 consecutive national championships between 2000-2013 (2000 AWCHA Div. 1 champions, 2001-2013 NCAA Women's Frozen Four champions). Six WCHA players have earned the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in Division 1 women's collegiate ice hockey. Hundreds of WCHA players have had extensive experience and success in international competitions such as the Winter Olympics, IIHF World Championships and Four Nations' Cup.
WCHA: Aaron Kemp Named New Commissioner of Women's WCHA
Gopher Hockey alum Cory Laylin has been tagged as the new head men's hockey coach at Hamline, the university athletic department announced on Wednesday.
The St. Cloud, Minn., native was a four-year letter winner for Minnesota from 1989-92 and totaled 107 points (58 goals, 49 assists) during his career. The forward's 170 career games are tied for 14th all-time at Minnesota -- 12 games off the school record of teammate Larry Olimb with 182.
In his tenure with the Maroon & Gold, Laylin helped the Gophers to WCHA MacNaughton Cups in 1989 as a freshman and again as a senior in 1992.
Cory Laylin is returning to where his coaching career started. The St. Cloud, Minn. native, whose first coaching assignment was an assistant at Hamline, is returning to the school as its new head men's hockey coach.
"I'm very excited to be coming back to Hamline. It's where I got the coaching bug," Laylin said. "I learned about D-III hockey in my time here. This is a great, very competitive league. I'm looking forward to getting to work to build this team into a being a contender."
Laylin was an assistant at HU in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Pipers won 32 games in that time span, advancing to the MIAC postseason title game in his first year and making the playoffs the next year as well.
Two Pipers who played here when Laylin was an assistant coach expressed delight with the choice. "He helped me immensely," said Chris Berenguer, the 2011 Division III Player of The Year. "He knows defense very well. He also helped me prepare to move on in hockey from Hamline."
Dustin Fulton, who finished his HU career with 144 points (second all-time), added, "Cory brings a lot of excitement to the team and to the alums. He has great playing experience and great coaching experience."
For the past two seasons, Laylin has been the general manager and head coach of the Brookings Blizzard of the North American Hockey League. He also spent one season as the co-head coach at Buffalo High School and coached a pro team in Carldaro in the Italian professional league.
Prior to coaching, Laylin, who scored 58 goals in four years for the University of Minnesota, played 16 seasons professionally, much of it overseas. His best statistical season was in 1999-2000 when he scored 32 goals in 53 games for Iserlohn, a team in a league based in Germany.
In addition to his ice hockey resume, Laylin played four seasons of professional roller hockey.
This blog is going to cover a great deal of information
"inside" the Gopher Men's Golf program over the last month. This may not be
true for many of you, but our team's winter has flown by despite the unseasonal
winter that we all experienced in Minnesota. I get asked all the time about the
weather and how our team can prepare for tournament action, despite the
roadblocks that we may face. It's actually a very easy answer...recruit players
that have tireless work ethics and play with a "chip on our shoulder." This "chip
on our shoulder" will certainly allow us to keep our eyes on the one prize that
we work so hard all year for...a Big Ten Championship!
In chronicling the past month, I have to start by
thanking Tom Lehman for setting up our spring break training trip to Arizona. Raven
at Verrado, Desert Mountain, DC Ranch, Greyhawk-Raptor and Phoenix CC served as
perfect venues to prepare us for our third event of the spring at Oregon. We
sat in the outfield to watch the spring training game with the Giants playing
the Padres, watched Alex Gaugert bowl over a 200 game for the third consecutive
year and enjoyed the perfect weather in March in Arizona.
To the players, maybe the other highlight of the trip
came when Jose Mendez beat me by two shots over the course of four rounds,
which allowed all team members to grow their facial hair as long as they wanted
for one full month. This was a tough loss for me, not because I couldn't beat
Jose, but I have a very strict team rule disallowing facial hair while a
student-athlete at the University of Minnesota.
The Duck Invitational was Jose Mendez's first collegiate win.
I think the extra facial hair helped in chilly Eugene,
Ore., at the Duck Invitational. Playing at Emerald Valley Golf Club against
some of the top Pac-12 teams, our team showed the improvement that we are
seeing weekly within the program. Jose
Mendez shined this week! He won his first individual title as a Gopher at 3
under on a very difficult driving golf course. This was the first individual
title for our program since 2006-07, when PGA Tour member Clayton Rask was
victorious. Keep in mind, Jose is only a freshman! Our team showed its
toughness coming down the stretch to edge the home team, the 40th-ranked
University of Oregon, only to lose to eventual champion No. 6 Oregon State
University. Jon Trasamar notched his second top 20 in the spring, which proved
to carry his confidence over into the following event at the University of
You never know what the weather will bring you in Iowa
City in April. This year was no different as the first day of 36-hole competition
was perfect at 70 degrees. Then the skies opened up for the final round and I
have never been so wet on a golf course as I was on this day. Our guys would
agree! Iowa, Iowa State and our team were certainly the best golf programs at
the Hawkeye and all locked in an intense battle with nine holes to play. The
Hawkeyes were leading by three over us and we had built a 14-shot lead on the
Cyclones. The pouring rain, missed short putts and our worst nine holes as a team
of the year would follow. Leading by 3 individually through 45 holes, Jose
Mendez would play the final nine holes 6 over to finish third. Matt Rachey
played his final five holes in 5 over to shoot 74 in the final round. Jon
Trasamar, Jon DuToit and Alex Gaugert all played solid in the final nine holes
but couldn't find the elusive birdies amongst the standing water on the greens
and in the bunkers. Nevertheless, we finished third and many teaching lessons
came out of this weekend for a few of our younger players. The commitment and
dedication that our squad shows in practice and competition certainly allows us
to build off of each of these experiences.
Off to Happy Valley we went four days after the Hawkeye. The
Rutherford Intercollegiate dates back to 1975 and the tournament kicked off at
the same time medal play was introduced to college golf. The Penn State Blue
Course is also the site of the Minnesota Gophers winning the 2002 Big Ten Golf
Championship. Great tradition, fond memories and a course that appears to be
very similar in layout to Bunker Hills and various other courses in the Twin
Cities, proved to be just what we needed after the disappointment in Iowa City.
Alex Gaugert started us off on the right foot on Day 1
with scores of 71 and 69 for a share of fourth place. Sounds like a broken
record but we were once again led by the one of the finest college freshmen in
the country, Jose Mendez. Jose opened with a 3-under-par 68, only to follow
that up by a flawless round of golf in the afternoon. His 65 was not only one
shot off the competitive course record by Robert Rohanna of Penn State, but it
also featured a hole out from 101 yards on the very difficult par-5 12th hole. This
was his lowest collegiate round to date and his three-shot lead after Day 1
helped our team out to a convincing nine-shot lead over Rutgers University
heading into the final round.
It was a fun week for our coaching staff to meet the
coaches and compete against the newest members of our Big Ten Conference,
Maryland and Rutgers, who will join in the summer. The final round started
slightly later with a frost delay, which seemed to throw our preparation
timeline off, as we played the first nine holes 9 over. The team competition
was now very tight with Rutgers, Penn State and UConn, all within 10 shots of the
Our team is tough to crack though. Senior leadership, freshman
confidence and a sophomore who has won a Minnesota State Open title is a great
recipe to close out tournaments. The Rutherford was no different as we played
the final nine holes on a windy afternoon 3 over to secure a 12-shot victory
for our program and FANS! Jon Trasamar really carried the load the final day
for our team going out first on the day. His even-par round of 71 was one of
the best scores of day. Alex Gaugert battled hard all day to finish with 75 and
his fourth top 10 of the year. We all knew Jose Mendez was good coming in from
Costa Rica as a 17-year-old freshman, but the year he is putting together will
rank as one of the top performances in Gopher history. Jose won his second
individual title by three strokes with a three-day total of 207, 6 under par. He
also carries a 70.25 scoring average this spring season through five events
that has helped him to a year-long scoring average of 72.05. As a team,
everyone helped in this win as we used scores from all five players.
The Gophers won their third team title of the year at the Rutherford Intercollegiate.
TEAM is something that isn't always seen as synonymous
with golf, as most view our sport as strictly individual. College golf is very
different though. The exhilaration of winning a TEAM title is unlike any feeling
you get from an individual title. The NCAA Championship plays match play in the
final three rounds to determine the National TEAM Champion. Finally, you should
all be very proud to know that our TEAM has formed a very tight-knit bond with
each other and our coaching staff that will last for many years beyond college.
We are having a special year and the tradition of Gopher Golf means so much to
all nine TEAM members, coaching staff and administration. Most of you won't be
able to travel to watch us compete in the Big Ten Championship May 2-4 at the
French Lick Resort-Dye Course in French Lick, Ind., but know that all five
players and two coaches will be giving everything we've got, both mentally and
physically, to bring home a championship that all of Minnesota can be proud of!
Follow the scores from the Big Ten Championship live on
Golfstat.com May 2-4.
Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!
By now you've probably seen or heard about Justin Holl's game-winning, shorthanded goal in the final second of Minnesota's Frozen Four semifinal win over North Dakota. Holl's first goal of the year propelled the Gophers into the national championship game and snapped a 42-game goal drought for the senior defenseman.
On Tuesday, the NCAA named Holl's spectacular goal as the top play of the year amid a flurry of other impressive plays. Check out the full video below -- it will be three minutes you certainly won't regret.
Gopher women's hockey junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey is featured in the Big Ten Conference's Faces of the Big Ten campaign. Check out the video and watch for it to air on the Big Ten Network this spring.
Three of four Stanley Cup Playoff games on Monday night featured some form of Gophers alum squaring off against Gophers alum while the Minnesota Wild invited several current student-athletes to Game Three at Xcel Energy Center.
We'll start things off in Dallas as Alex Goligoski and the Stars fought their way back into the series with Anaheim behind a 3-0 win on Monday. Goligoski had a game-high 27:40 of ice time in the win as Dallas trails the Ducks 2-1 in the series. Likewise for Nick Leddy and the Chicago Blackhawks, who clawed their way back into the series on Monday night with a 2-0 win over Jordan Leopold and the St. Louis Blues, and Erik Haula and the Minnesota Wild, which scored the game's only goal in overtime for a 1-0 win over Erik Johnson and the Colorado Avalanche. Both St. Lois and Colorado lead those series 2-1.
Paul Martin, meanwhile, was named the game's Third Star after tallying two assists in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win over Todd Richards' Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins are now up 2-1 in the first round series. With his team down 2-0 after nearly 40 minutes, Martin set up Pittsburgh's first goal of the night with two seconds remaining in the second stanza. After Columbus answered just over a minute into the third, the defenseman then kicked off a string of three-straight goals in just over two minutes for Pittsburgh that included the game winner.
Martin now has six points (all assists) in three playoff games this season for the Penguins. The former Gopher, who has made the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of his 10 NHL seasons, has only tallied more playoff points once in his career -- 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 15 games for Pittsburgh last season.
Wild Honor Gophers
A special thanks to the Minnesota Wild, who invited captains of both the Gopher men's and women's hockey programs to Monday's exciting hockey game. Both programs capped impressive seasons with runner-up finishes in the NCAA tournament.
Only one Gopher in action on Tuesday as Thomas Vanek and Montreal try to move past Tampa Bay in Game Four (6 p.m. ET, NHL Network). The Canadiens lead the series 3-0 while Vanek has a goal and an assist for his squad.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Former Gopher Erik Johnson was one of several heroes for Colorado on Thursday night as the Avalanche topped Minnesota 5-4 in overtime.
With his team down 4-3 with less than two minutes to play, Johnson made a sprinting lunge to prevent a clear attempt from going into the open net in his NHL playoff debut. The former No. 1 overall draft pick then turned around and set up Paul Statsny's game-tying goal with 14 seconds to play. The Avalanche would go on to win in overtime.
On the other side of the ice, Erik Haula also made his NHL playoff debut on Thursday night and tallied Minnesota's third goal of the night -- snapping a 2-2 tie late in the second period. With Colorado up 1-0 in the best-over-seven series, Minnesota will try to even things up in Denver on Saturday in Game Two (8:30 p.m. CT, NBC Sports, FOX Sports North).
In other action, Nick Leddy tallied an assist for Chicago in the Blackhawks' triple overtime loss to St. Louis. The defenseman set up Chicago's second goal of the night, putting the team up 2-1 in a five-goal first period, although the Blues went on to win 4-3 with a goal 26 seconds into the third overtime session. Game Two of that series is set for 2 p.m. CT on Saturday (NBC).
Two Gopher alums are in NHL playoff action tonight -- Thomas Vanek and the Canadiens lead Tampa Bay 1-0 heading into Game Two tonight (6 p.m. CT, CNBC) while Alex Goligoski and Dallas are a game behind Anaheim (9 p.m. CT, NBC Sports).
In just his second professional game, former Gophers forward Tom Serratore celebrated his first professional goal on Wednesday night for the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native gave his squad a 3-2 lead in the second period as the Phantoms claimed a 5-4 shootout win over Syracuse.
Even more interesting, Serratore's former Gopher teammate and current Phantoms defenseman Mark Alt set up the goal for the forward, who joined Adirondack on Monday following Minnesota's Frozen Four run. Adirondack is 2-0 since signing Serratore to an amateur tryout contract.
Vanek, Martin Lead Teams to Game One Wins
The Stanley Cup Playoffs kicked off on Tuesday with three Gophers in action for their respective NHL squads -- Thomas Vanek (Montreal), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh) and Alex Goligoski (Dallas).
In an offensive battle between the Canadiens and Tampa Bay, Montreal came out with a one-game lead after a 5-4 overtime contest. Vanek tallied a goal -- his 15th playoff goal and 21st point in 37 playoff games -- midway through the third period to put the Canadiens up 4-3. The Lightning would tie the game less than two minutes later, but Dale Weise scored the winner for Montreal at 18:08 of overtime. Game Two of the series is set for Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
Meanwhile, Martin tallied two assists in Pittsburgh's 4-3 come-from-behind win over Todd Richards' Blue Jackets. Down 3-1 early in the second, the Penguins rallied off three-straight goals to take the lead in the third period. Martin, who finished with a game-high 23:51 of ice time, helped start the rally and capped it off by forcing a turnover and setting up the deciding goal for Pittsburgh. In his 68th playoff game, Martin now has 32 postseason points. Game Two of that series is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.
In the third playoff game of the night, Goligoski tallied a game-high 28:39 of ice time in Dallas' 4-3 loss to Anaheim. Game Two of that series is set for Friday at 9 p.m. CT.
Five Gophers will take the ice on Thursday for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nick Leddy and Chicago play Jordan Leopold and St. Louis tonight at 7 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network while Erik Johnson and Colorado face off against Keith Ballard, Erik Haula and Minnesota at 8:30 p.m. CT on CNBC and FOX Sports North. Johnson and Haula will be making their NHL playoff debuts.
Welcome to my blog, Gophers!
There will be so many things happening this year as we prepare for a great season of Gopher basketball. While we wish you could be with us every step of the way, this blog will provide an inside look into what is happening within the program.
This has been an exciting week! I had an incredible time meeting the team and the fans. I am glad to see that everyone is ecstatic for the season to start. Thank you for your overwhelming support and for a warm welcome. It is encouraging to see the amount of support the Golden Gophers have throughout the state and beyond.
We are working hard to assemble the right staff for this program. Meanwhile, the team is training hard to make sure they are prepared for the upcoming season. With the right staff and a dedicated team, the possibilities are endless for this special group.
Going forward, there will be an incredible amount of energy put into getting the program operating at full steam. The season will be here before we know it. When the time arrives, we will be ready to compete at the highest level.
Keep checking back here all year long for updates and insights.
'Till Next Time...
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - Eight former Gophers are set to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the postseason gets underway on Tuesday night.
Alex Goligoski, Erik Johnson, Keith Ballard, Erik Haula, Jordan Leopold, Nick Leddy, Thomas Vanek and Paul Martin will represent the Maroon & Gold in the NHL postseason as will Columbus head coach Todd Richards.
The group will try to add to Minnesota's 10 names already inscribed on the Stanley Cup with Goligoski (2009) and Leddy (2013) looking to become the first Gophers to earn two Stanley Cups as players (Bob Johnson coached Pittsburgh to a Cup win in 1991 and was posthumously included in 1992).
Gophersports.com breaks down each first round matchups with Gophers implications.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Dallas is making its first playoff run since 2008 while Gophers alum Alex Goligoski is back playing for the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2010 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Goligoski has played in 15 NHL playoff games in his career with 10 points (two goals, eight assists). The All-American won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 - his first full season in the NHL. The defenseman played in a career-best 81 games for the Stars this season with 42 total points (six goals, 36 assists).
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
This series boasts three former Gophers in action as Erik Johnson and the Avalanche face off against Keith Ballard, Erik Haula and the Wild.
The first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Johnson will be making his first Stanley Cup playoff appearance in his seventh year in the league. He'll also do it playing against the team he grew up watching in Bloomington, Minn. Johnson had a career season for the Avalanche this year - setting career bests in games (80) and assists (30) while his 39 points tied his career best and his nine goals were one off his best year (both came in 2009-10 with St. Louis).
The Gophers' leading scorer a year ago, Haula signed with the Wild following the NCAA tournament and quickly made the climb to the NHL this season. The forward played in 46 games for Minnesota this season with 15 points (six goals, nine assists). The Pori, Finland native is making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in his rookie season.
Haula's teammate and fellow Minnesota alum, Keith Ballard is making his third career playoff appearance and his first with the Wild after signing with the team in the offseason. The blue liner played in 14 playoff games with Vancouver between 2011 and 2012 with one assist in the postseason. In 45 games this season with the Wild, Ballard tallied nine points (two goals, seven assists).
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago
The second case of Gopher vs. Gopher in the playoffs comes in the form of Jordan Leopold and the Blues against Nick Leddy and Blackhawks.
Leopold is making his eighth-career playoff run with 65 playoff games under his belt. The 2002 Hobey Baker Award winner has 16 career assists in the postseason. The defenseman played in 27 games for the Blues this season with six points (one goal, five assists).
Now in his fourth NHL season, Leddy is making his fourth NHL playoff appearance. The blue liner helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup one year ago while the Blackhawks are trying for back-to-back titles this year and the team's third title in five years. Leddy has played in 36 career playoff games with five points (one goal, four assists). He played in all 82 games this season (tying a career best) while his seven goals were the most in his four-year career. Leddy added 24 assists in the regular season to total 31 points this year.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Thomas Vanek fans had a hard time following the former Gopher this season. The forward started the year with Buffalo, was traded to the New York Islanders 13 games into the season and was then dealt again at the trade deadline to Montreal. The moves worked out in the long-run for Vanek, as his final home for 2013-14 is the only one of his stops this season to make the playoffs.
Vanek is making his fifth playoff appearance this season with 36 games and 20 points (15 goals, five assists) to his credit.
The Austrian tallied 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) in 78 games this season while it's also worth pointing out that Vanek spent the mid-season break representing Austria at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Paul Martin's 67 NHL playoff games are the most among Gophers in this year's playoffs while the defenseman is making his 10th Stanley Cup run - having reached the postseason in every year he's played in the NHL (*2004-05 due to the NHL lockout). Martin has 30 career playoff points (five goals, 25 assists). Martin played in 39 games for the Penguins this season with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) and battled injuries throughout the season. He was one of three Gophers to play for the U.S. at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia (Wheeler, Kessel).
It's also worth noting that Martin and the Penguins will take on Columbus, which is coached by former Gopher All-American Todd Richards. Richards has the Blue Jackets in the playoffs for just the second in time in the organization's brief history.
-Pride on Ice-
Hey Gopher fans: Stay tuned to this link for the official blog of new Gopher Women's Basketball head coach Marlene Stollings!!
Did this year meet expectations? That is the most commonly asked question that I have received since our NIT championship. The answer would be 100 percent yes. As a coach your hope is that your guys compete and get better every day. I can honestly say 99 percent of our practices and individual instruction sessions were a success. The guys brought it every day and that's all you can ask.
To go along with individual improvements, this team went on to set a school record for total number of wins in a season as well as an NIT championship. Other statistical records we set included the most points, 3-pointers and free throws in single-season school history, as well as the second-best free throw percentage and third-most rebounds and steals.
We were also very excited to have the highest team GPA in the fall semester in the last 10 years. It's very important that our guys finish strong academically. Austin, Maverick, Oto and Kendal will all graduate on time. Malik still has a little work to do but he will get his degree. Kendall will be back and Oto will be a graduate manager for us next season. Malik, Mav, and Austin will all try to play professionally.
Here are some (unofficial) year-end awards.
MVP- Deandre Mathieu
Nobody was more consistent from top to bottom than Dre. Incredible where he has come from to get to where he is now. He certainly deserves all the credit. He will also have to stay hungry because he will have a bigger reputation next season.
Most Improved- Mo Walker, Joey King (close second)
This wasn't an easy choice but to look at where Mo was last year to today is pretty impressive. He did an unbelievable job of losing the weight; now it's time to add the muscle. I am fully confident he and our strength coach Shaun Brown will get it done.
Best Defender- Austin Hollins
Hardest Worker- Austin Hollins ... easy pick.
Best Attitude- Maverick Ahanmisi
Sacrifice Award- Oto Osenieks
What Oto did vs. Florida State in the NIT is what being a teammate is all about. He played through a lot of pain in that game and grabbed a huge rebound at the end.
Best Moment- Austin Hollins 3-pointer vs. SMU in the NIT Championship
That's the way a senior like Austin should end his career. Great player, better person. We will miss his intangibles.
Next year will be met with much higher expectations certainly than this year. Our guys will have to be prepared to be the hunted instead of the hunter. That won't be easy. We will need the Barn to be the toughest place to play in the country! As crazy as it sounds next year's schedule will be more difficult than this year's top ten strength of schedule. We will have to be ready to compete every night!
I personally had a blast coaching this year. My favorite moment is walking up those stairs at the beginning of the game at the Barn to take the court. It gives me goosebumps every time. I can't wait to do it again in a few months!
Hope to see everyone at June for camp. It will be fun! (For more information on the Richard Pitino Basketball Camps, visit http://www.gophersports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/pitino-camps.html)
PHILADELPHIA (GopherSports.com) -- The University of Minnesota men's hockey program prepped for the program's 21st Frozen Four appearance on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The Gophers open the event on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. CT against North Dakota in semifinal action on ESPN2/Watch ESPN while radio broadcast is set for the Gopher Radio Network and 1500 ESPN. Boston College and Union compete the in the first semifinal game earlier in the day.
Minnesota started the day of preparation by meeting with national broadcasting partners including ESPN talent John Buccigross, Barry Melrose and Quint Kessenich. For many of the Gophers, visiting with the trio was the day's highlight.
The low-point of the day? Well for some of the team that may have been competing in Adam Wilcox's Rubik's Cube Challenge. The Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year proved his skill with the gadget earlier this year (see the original video here
) and challenged his teammates, as well as coach Don Lucia, with the help of NCAA.com.
After practicing for the first time at Wells Fargo Center and then meeting with the media, the Gophers had one final on-camera moment for the night -- taking a team photo with the famous Rocky statue in downtown Philadelphia.
For those in Philly, check out the full list of Frozen Four fan activities happening around town (Click Here
). Back home? Head to Joe Senser's in Roseville or Bloomington for the official viewing parties in the Twin Cities (Click Here
Starting on April 1, every strikeout by a Gopher pitcher and by alum Glen Perkins is helping to fight cancer as part of pitching coach Todd Oakes' Strike Out Cancer campaign through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Perkins has pledged $100 for each of his strikeouts during the month, and the Gophers have collected pledges for each of theirs as well.
Check out this interview Perkins held with Pioneer Press' Charley Walters
Stats through April 26
Fans were able to donate at the Saturday, April 12 game against Nebraska. Fans added nearly another $250 towards the cause.
KFAN's Justin Gaard sat down with "T.O." to talk about his story, and his Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Man of the Year campaign. The interview starts at about the 30:10 mark of the show.
The Gopher men's golf team will play at the Hawkeye Invitational this weekend (April 12-13). The team held a qualifying tournament to determine the travel squad. Jon Trasamar and Jose Mendez were exempt. The Gophers played at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa, and Pioneer Creek GC in Maple Plain, Minn.
The travel squad will be Mendez, Trasamar, Alex Gaugert, Jon DuToit and Matt Rachey. Qualifying scores are below:
Alex Gaugert 213
Matt Rachey 219
Jon DuToit 221
Grady Meyer 231
Tyler Lowenstein 234
Daniel Luftspring 239
The University of Minnesota will make its 21st Frozen Four appearance when it squares off with North Dakota April 10 in Philadelphia. Coach Don Lucia and select players met with the local media to discuss the NCAA West Regional and what waits ahead at the Frozen Four.
The national semifinal will be the 291th meeting between Minnesota and North Dakota. "I love playing North Dakota," senior forward Nate Condon said. "Everyone knows who North Dakota is. Everyone has someone they grew up playing with or against that they want to beat."
Lucia is doing his best to downplay the fact that the Gophers await their longtime arch-rival. "It is a national semifinal. Who you play is not as important as playing well."
The Gophers earned the right to go to Philadelphia by defeating Robert Morris, 7-3, and St. Cloud State, 4-0, at the NCAA West Regional.
"I thought last weekend was the best two games we have played all year," goaltender and Mike Richter Award finalist Adam Wilcox said. "It is good to be hitting our stride this time of year."
A big component of the Gophers success at the regional was the ability for the defense to stymie St. Cloud State's quality forwards.
"I think the key for us is the emergence of Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei," coach Lucia said. "Both those guys have really improved from last year."
Co-captain Nate Condon sparked the Gophers at the regional by scoring the team's first goal against Robert Morris and collecting four points on the weekend. He spoke about the seeds for this team's success being planted by former captain - and Condon's former roommate -- Taylor Matson.
"One of the things he taught me is how hard you have to work to get to that next level."
As the team begins to focus on their trip to Pennsylvania, Lucia wants to make sure the players are primed for a positive experience.
"It never gets old playing in the Frozen Four. There is no guarantee that any of our guys will get an opportunity to do this again," Lucia said. "The most important thing is to play well. The disappointment comes if the team does not play the way they are capable of."
The other national semifinal pits Boston College against Union College. It will be just the second all-time meeting between the Eagles and Dutchmen.
The Gophers will hit the ice against North Dakota on Thursday April 10 at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be shown live on ESPN2 and can be heard on 1500 ESPN. The national championship game takes place Saturday April 12 at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.
"It is going to be awesome to play [North Dakota]," Wilcox said. "It is a huge rivalry game and there is not a better time to have it than on the big stage."
-Story written by Josh Brennock
As the month of April rolls around, so does the start of spring volleyball competition. After waiting a few months since the end of the season, the Gopher volleyball team will be back in action this weekend.
Minnesota travels to Wisconsin to compete in a spring scrimmage against the Badgers on Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. Admission is free for the event, located at the UW Field House. Gametracker will also be made available for the scrimmage, located here
Following the Wisconsin scrimmage, the Gophers travel to Northern Iowa, April 12. Action begins at 9 a.m. on four courts and admission is free. Seating is limited, but fans are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Along with Minnesota and host UNI, Iowa, Iowa State, Omaha, North Dakota State, South Dakota and Iowa Ice will also compete. A two-set format has been established with wins (by two points) to 25. Full court schedule located here.
UNI Spring Tournament Schedule of Events (subject to change)
Court 1 - UNI vs. South Dakota
Court 3 - Minnesota vs. Iowa
Court 8 - Iowa State vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Court 1 - Iowa Ice vs. UNI
Court 3 - Iowa State vs. Minnesota
Court 7 - Nebraska-Omaha vs. South Dakota
Court 8 - Iowa vs. North Dakota State
Court 1 - Minnesota vs. UNI
Court 3 - Iowa vs. Iowa State
Court 7 - Iowa Ice vs. South Dakota
Court 8 - Nebraska-Omaha vs. North Dakota State
Court 1 - Iowa vs. UNI
Court 3 - Minnesota vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Court 7 - North Dakota State vs. South Dakota
Court 8 - Iowa Ice vs. Iowa State
Court 1 - UNI vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Court 3 - Minnesota vs. South Dakota
Court 8 - Iowa Ice vs. North Dakota State
Court 1 - Northern Iowa vs. North Dakota State
Court 3 - Court available to play extra sets
The University of Minnesota hosted Feedback Friday in the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Friday, March 28th.
The professional development event organized by University of Minnesota Student-Athlete Development and sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car presented student-athletes with an opportunity to prepare for post-college careers.
Student-athletes participated in practice interviews and resume reviews. They also had the chance to speak with a Talent Acquisition Specialist about employment openings at Enterprise.
"Feedback Friday and other professional development events are incredibly beneficial to me," Anne Ferguson from the women's cross country/track & field said. "Having my resume reviews and most importantly speaking with employers gives me confidence when I attend other professional events."
Written by Andrew Doughty
University of Minnesota Student-Athlete Development Intern