Holl's Winner Named NCAA's Top Play of the Year

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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. 


Faces of the Big Ten Features Ramsey

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.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Update

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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. 


Up Next
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. 

Johnson Saves Avalanche in Game One

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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). 

Up Next

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). 



Serratore Scores First Pro Goal, NHL Playoff Updates

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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. 

Up Next

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!

Go Gophers! Marlene Stollings
Go 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...

Go Gophers!

Coach Marlene

Eight Gophers Set for Stanley Cup Playoffs

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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 

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Go Gophers!Erik Johnson
Go Gophers!
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 
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Go Gophers!Paul MartinGo Gophers!

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-

Coming Soon: Marlene Stolling's Official Blog!

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Hey Gopher fans: Stay tuned to this link for the official blog of new Gopher Women's Basketball head coach Marlene Stollings!!

Coming soon!

Gophers at UNI Tournament

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Pitino Blog: Year One in Review

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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.

Year One under Richard Pitino resulted in a program-record 25 wins.


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.

Austin Hollins delivered the moment of the year with his game-clinching 3-pointer vs. SMU in the NIT title game.


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.

The Future

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)

Go Gophers!

Richard Pitino