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The University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics department and its' M.A.G.I.C. program (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) was recently featured in the Big Ten Networks' LiveB1G.
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The Golden Gopher baseball program honored its 1964 national champions at Saturday's game against Purdue. That team 50 years ago put together one of the best seasons in school history and brought home the program's third College World Series title, all under coach Dick Siebert.
Minnesota started its season with a 3-8 record on its trip to Texas. The Gophers bounced back with 11 straight victories. After dropping their conference opener, the Gophers rattled off eight consecutive wins.
Minnesota went 31-12 overall, including a 11-3 mark in conference play. The Gophers won their seventh Big Ten championship, which was their fifth with Siebert at the helm. The Gophers went on to play in the NCAA Midwest Regional and beat Kent State twice to advance to the College World Series.
In Omaha, Minnesota beat Texas A&M, Maine and USC before losing to Missouri for its first loss of the double elimination tournament. But the Gophers beat the Tigers 5-1 in their second meeting to claim the national title.
Joe Pollack pitched three complete game victories in the World Series. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by All-American catcher Ron Wojciak, first baseman Bill Davis, second baseman Dewey Markus and outfielder Dave Hoffman.
Davis, Pollack and Wojciak were all inducted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame.
Gopher Hockey alum Thomas Vanek scored twice on Monday night in Montreal's 4-0 Game Six win over Boston as an already dramatic second-round Stanley Cup playoff series now heads to a deciding Game Seven.
The Austrian forward put the Canadiens up 3-0 with a power-play goal late in the second period and then added an empty netter in the third -- Vanek now has eight points (five goals, three assists in 10 playoff games this season. The nine-year NHL veteran has 28 points (20 goals, eight assists) in 46 career playoff games.
Game Seven is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT in Boston (NBC Sports Network).
Plenty of Gopher Hockey alums in action tonight in the Stanley Cup playoffs as Paul Martin and Pittsburgh take on the New York Rangers in Game Seven of their second-round playoff series (6 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network) while Nick Leddy and Chicago take on Erik Haula, Keith Ballard and the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. CT, CNBC, TSN). The Blackhawks hold a 3-2 lead in the series.
Although the final score didn't go his team's way, Gopher Hockey alum Erik Haula continued to impress on Sunday night with the Wild's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Chicago in Game Five. Game Six is set for 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center (CNBC and TSN will broadcast the game).
Here's the Finnesotan's goal from Sunday night:
The Pori, Finland native is in the midst of his first playoff run during his rookie season with Minnesota. Haula has played in all 12 playoff games for the Wild and has six points -- his three playoff goals are tied for the league rookie goal scoring lead.
Five Gopher Hockey alums are still in the hunt to hoist the Stanley Cup come year's end -- Eric Haula (MIN), Keith Ballard (MIN), Nick Leddy (CHI), Thomas Vanek (MTL) and Paul Martin (PIT). Minnesota had a total of nine representatives open the playoffs including Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards while a total of 16 Gopher Hockey alums played in the NHL during the regular season.
The Golden Gophers played a three-round qualifying tournament to determine the final spot in their NCAA Regional lineup, and freshman Grady Meyer earned the trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. He will join Jose Mendez, Jon Trasamar, Alex Gaugert and Jon DuToit.
The Gophers played at Minikahda Club, Troy Burne GC and Hazeltine National GC. Combined scores are below.
Grady Meyer +14
Play at the Raleigh Regional begins on Thursday, May 15 and goes through Saturday, May 17. The top five teams advance to the NCAA Championships.
Former Gopher Erik Haula netted the game winner on Tuesday night as the Minnesota Wild blanked Chicago 4-0 in Game Three of the second round series at Xcel Energy Center.
Check out the Pori, Finland native's goal that snapped a scoreless tie and ignited a four-goal third period for the Wild.
Haula, making a playoff run with Minnesota in his rookie season with the squad, has been one of the team's standouts in both this series with the Blackhawks and the first round series with Colorado that went to seven games. The forward now has five points (two goals, three assists) while playing in all 10 playoff games for the Wild. He had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 46 regular-season games for Minnesota this year.
Down 2-1 in the series, the Wild are back at it on Friday night (8:30 p.m. CT) at Xcel Energy Center. The NBC Sports Network will broadcast Game Four of the series.
Erik Haula Press Report
NHL: Haula continues to play huge role for Wild (Dan Meyers)
Star Tribune: Speedy Haula cashes in on second chance (Chip Scoggins)
Pioneer Press: Haula continues to shine (Andy Greder)
Vanek Helps Habs to 2-1 Series Lead
Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek continues to contribute regularly for Montreal in its second round series with Boston. The Canadiens went up 2-1 in the series with a 4-2 win over the Bruins while Vanek added the primary assist in the game's opening goal. The Austrian now has six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games for Montreal.
Montreal and Boston meet for Game Four on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network.
Only one Stanley Cup playoff game on the docket for Wednesday -- Paul Martin and the Penguins looks to increase their 2-1 series lead in Game Four with the Rangers tonight. Game time is 6:30 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network.
This Saturday, the Gophers and pitching coach Todd Oakes will have one final push for the Strikeout Cancer campaign. Along with having a chance to donate online, supporters also have the chance to purchase Team T.O. Strikeout Cancer t-shirts at Saturday's game vs. Purdue. The t-shirts will be $20 and with the purchase, you also receive a autographed trading cards of Glen Perkins and Todd Oakes when he was a pitching coach in Major League Baseball. Trading cards and t-shirts while supplies last
Can't make it to the game? You still have a chance to donate to T.O.'s cause on his fundraising page.
Big Ten Champs...
Why not us? This was not a theme I used with my guys prior to embarking on the first round of the Big Ten Championships at the Dye Course at French Lick Resort, but I was certainly thinking it. The rankings were certainly not accurately measuring the 53 wins and 4 losses we had amassed in our six spring collegiate tournaments. I know how dangerous confidence can be in the game of golf. So before the start of the first round in Indiana, we talked about what we learned from winning three times in the 2013-14 season and playing the tournament for the teammate sitting next to you. All coaches have these types of speeches planned for certain times of the year, but our positive tone at all times with our players allows them to play freely and it is what Coach Stith and I witnessed in Round 1.
Let the drama begin...The Dye Course measures 8,108 yards from the back tees at a par of 72. No, we did not play this monster from those tees, but we did play each day of the tournament from 7,300 yards, which is tough enough on a course that boasts the second highest USGA rating of 81.0. For example, Hazeltine National GC, which is well known to be the toughest golf course in Minnesota from the back tees, has a course rating of just over 77.0. We maneuvered the deep fairway bunkers and 26-yard wide fairways with ease on Day 1 through 16 holes, finding ourselves eight shots clear of second-place Purdue University.
Not fazed by his first Big Ten Championships start, Jose Mendez closed his day with a solid par at the last for a 3-under total of 69. This would stand as the lowest single round shot at the 2014 Championships. I did say we played well through 16 holes above, as we unfortunately couldn't withstand the increasing wind and brutal par-4 17th, as we gave eight shots back to the field in those last two holes to find our team in the lead by two after Round 1. Jon DuToit and Jon Trasamar, both Minnesota high school products, each shot very good opening rounds to offset tough first rounds by senior Alex Gaugert and junior Tyler Lowenstein.
We all love 36-hole days...16 miles of walking in two rounds and winds that peaked at 22 MPH were two of the factors that contributed to higher second round scores for the field, along with a few more gray hairs for Ole Head Coach. Don't tell my wife about gray hairs as she still thinks I am the same strapping young man she married almost 10 years ago! Aside from the weather and tricky pin positions, we shot 300 in the second round with scores of 74 (Mendez), 75(DuToit), 75(Gaugert) and 76(Trasamar).
I thought mornings were supposed to be calm...25-35 MPH sustained winds greeted all players on "Moving Day" from the first tee until the final putt on hole 18. Our team is mentally strong, proven champions and always ready for the challenge of increased pressure that comes with being in contention at a major! Our third round was magic. Now usually when I use a strong word like that it means we shot career low rounds individually or as a team, but this is not the case. +13 was the number of the day for Gopher Golf. Some may say, "How can you feel good about that score?" Well, that was the best score of the day by two shots and moved our team clear of second place heading into the final round by seven shots over No. 9 ranked Illinois and No. 37 ranked Purdue.
Even better than the movement in the team race was the comment by one volunteer at the event to me just after play finished. A gentleman from Paoli, Indiana, who paid $100 to volunteer for the event, and worked in cold, windy conditions sought me out to tell me the University of Minnesota was "by a landslide" the most appreciative team at the tournament toward the 100-plus volunteers. I was overwhelmed with joy knowing our young players are growing into superb young men that represent the University of Minnesota and all the golfers in Minnesota in the best way possible.
Heading into the final round of the Big Ten Championships, I needed a little advice on how to deal with my own nerves as a coach. I am so fortunate to be surrounded at Gopher Athletics by some of the finest coaches in the world. I called Brad Frost, the finest women's hockey coach in the nation and one of my closest friends, the night before the round. He has a clear mission and vision with his team that I have been able to understand for the better part of four years now. "Controlling what you can control," "doing the little things well" and a few other coaching points were discussed on Saturday. Thank you, Brad, for that support!
Big Ten Championships...final round...Jose Mendez vs. Charlie Danielson...Minnesota vs. Illinois...This has become a rivalry that started at the Big Ten Match Play and will continue for many years as I have the utmost respect for Coach Small and the Illini! Illinois would start out on fire with five team birdies in the first three holes, while we matched that with only three birdies of our own. The back-and-forth body blows continued for the next nine holes only to see our seven-shot lead evaporate into an all-square match starting the 16th hole. Jose Mendez had also given up his lead to a hot putter in Charlie Danielson. Charlie is from Osceola, Wisconsin, and is one of the strongest sophomores in the nation. Hole 16 is a mere 191 yards with a green bordered by water on the right and a huge pot bunker on the left. The wind was freshening with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the clubhouse with the round of the day, 4-under par 284.
Solid shots by both teams sent the match to the 17th,
where the Illini found trouble with a bogey and a double bogey. In contrast,
Gopher Golf drew on experience with the lead throughout the year by carding a
bogey and a birdie, along with three pars by Jon DuToit, Tyler Lowenstein and
Jose Mendez. That lone birdie at the 17th was that of senior captain Jon
Trasamar. He buried a 10-footer after one of his finest iron shots of the week
from 175 yards (8 iron). This set the stage for one of the finest moments of
the year in Gopher Golf...
After laying up on the 615-yard, par-5 18th hole, Trasamar would catch his wedge shot slightly heavy, leaving it 45 feet below the hole. With the hole location in the back right of this 59-yard long green, Coach Stith and Trasamar used "Aim Point" to read the putt. If you have not tried Aim Point, it is one of the new techniques we have taught our guys this year to revolutionize their green reading. Trasamar holed the putt with a fist pump and with the crowd on the hill going crazy, the Big Ten Championship was coming home to Minnesota! Because I had previously mentioned college golf is mostly a team environment, this did overshadow the individual duel between the "Costa Rican Athlete of the Year" and one of the three amazing Danielson siblings from Osceola.
The last player to win an individual Big Ten Championship is my good friend Matt Anderson. Matt now works at Dick's Sporting Goods in Bloomington, along with serving as assistant golf coach at Edina HS. He also still sports one of the best wedge games in Minnesota!
Jose and Charlie were playing hole 18. After both laying up to 69 and 92 yards respectively, an uncharacteristic poor shot from Charlie resulted in the greenside bunker. Jose hit a smart shot to 25 feet below the hole. Charlie could only muster a bogey 6 after his approach shot, which set the stage for Jose to win it outright. After hitting a solid putt missing on the right, he would bury it from 4 feet to earn a share of the Big Ten Individual title. Because of tight travel windows, no playoff is held for the individual titles in our conference.
We did it! The Big Ten title is for everyone in the State of Minnesota, families of our players, alumni of our great program and donors. It's a great memory for all players/coaches on the victorious 2014 team. You can watch the tape delayed drama of our win at the Big Ten Championships on Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. on May 17.
We are now off to one of the six NCAA Regional sites at Lonnie Poole GC in Raleigh, North Carolina, next week. Follow the live scoring on Golfstat.com Thursday, May 15-Saturday, May 17. Five teams advance to the NCAA Finals at Prarie Dunes Country Club in Hutchison, Kansas, which starts Thursday, May 22. Four team wins in our 2013-14 season, three individual titles by Jose Mendez and recently receiving the Norman Borlaug Academic Award at the Golden Goldys for the team with the best academic performance in Gopher Athletics in the previous year, are all proud moments in my third year as head coach. This ride in our championship portion of our season has only begun though.
Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!
Minnesota's Big Ten title created a buzz in the golf world and on social media. We collected some of the media coverage and tweets from the Gophers' exciting accomplishment.
*GopherSports.com (includes photo gallery)
And a few "first since" notes:
*The Gophers won their first team Big Ten title since 2007.
*Jose Mendez was the program's first Big Ten medalist since Matt Anderson in 2003.
*It was the first time since 2003 that the Gophers won both the team and individual competition.
*Mendez was the first freshman medalist since Eric Chun (Northwestern) in 2009.
Gopher Hockey student season tickets went on sale earlier this morning with one lucky fan getting something more than he expected -- free tickets from Gophers alum and Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad.
Bjugstad surprised University of Minnesota student Cole Johnson by stopping by the Mariucci Arena ticket office on Friday morning and paying for the freshman's season tickets for 2014-15. Johnson, who arrived at Mariucci at 8 a.m. this morning (an hour before the office opened), was the first student in line and said he couldn't believe it when the All-American from Blaine showed up and offered to pay for his tickets.
"I saw the post on facebook saying that there would be some cool surprises, but I didn't know what to expect. It was awesome to meet Nick Bjugstad and it was really nice that he bought my tickets for me," Johnson said. "It'll be great to have the football, basketball, & hockey package because I really enjoy all of the sports here, but I really enjoy hockey."
Last year, associate head coach Mike Guentzel met the first student in line for student tickets and picked up the tab, but with the coaching staff in Florida for meetings on Friday, Bjugstad said he wanted to step in and continue the tradition.
"I always loved how much support we got from the student section during my time here, they're by far the best fans in college hockey," Bjugstad said. "I can't really explain how much of a thrill it was to take the ice and have so much intensity and excitement in the building. It was really special, and this is just a small way of showing our fans how much we appreciated that support."
In his first full season in the NHL, Bjugstad didn't disappoint. The forward led Florida with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) including four game-winning goals.
Season tickets packages are available at MyGopherSports.com or by visiting the ticket office at Mariucci Arena.
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