What We Learned At Bemidji State

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The Gophers are now 4-0 this season after sweeping the Bemidji State Beavers on the road this past weekend. Minnesota is 4-0 to start a season for just the second time in the last 13 years. In fact, the last two times the Gophers started 4-0 they ended the season with a trip to the Frozen Four.

Here is what we learned this weekend:

Warning To The Nation

Sam Warning looks like a scoring dynamo this season. His nine points through the first two weeks are tied for the most in the nation. He was named the number one star both games in Bemidji after collecting five points on the weekend. His two goals Saturday night marked the second two-goal effort of his career. Sam was challenged in the offseason to become a consistent scorer this season. In the first two weeks, he has delivered. Warning has a goal in every game this season. His five goals on the season are tied for second best in the country.

Upperclassmen Now

Sam Warning might be the headliner, but the whole junior class has raised their game. Defenseman Ben Marshall and forward Travis Boyd each posted a goal and an assist this weekend. Boyd's impact is especially noteworthy due to his struggles last season. It is obvious Travis' strong start on the scoresheet has carried over to his strong forechecking and overall energy on the ice. He was awarded the hard hat for his performance Friday night. Ben Marshall has not been shy to jump into the play during his career, and he has found success early in this season, giving the Gophers more scoring punch from the blue line. Kyle Rau has been as steady this season as Gopher fans have come to respect from the captain.

Freshman Chemistry On Display

The appearance of freshmen Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata in Gopher sweaters this season was highly anticipated. This weekend, we began to see the chemistry these two diminutive forwards developed together playing for the United States Hockey League's Waterloo Black Hawks last season. Justin Kloos notched his second goal of the season on Saturday and Cammarata tallied four points this weekend after being held off the scoresheet during the Ice Breaker. Taylor scored his first college goal on Saturday by scooping up and deposited a Kloos' shot, which rebounded of the end boards. Taylor helped set up Kloos in the third period with good work behind the net to find Nate Condon, who quickly feed the puck right to Kloos for Justin's second goal of the season.

Spread The Wealth

The spread of scoring was mentioned last week, but thirteen different Gophers have now found the back of the net this season. Seventeen different Gophers have registered at least a point. A pair of unheralded defensemen joined the list of point producers this weekend with great stretch passes from the defensive zone that led to Gopher goals on the rush. Senior Jake Parenteau assisted on Travis Boyd's crucial goal that evened the score early on Friday's game. Freshman Jake Bischoff collected his first collegiate point with an excellent outlet pass that led to Sam Warning's second goal on Saturday.

What Needs Work

The Gophers need to make a more concretive effort to stay out of the penalty box moving forward this season while the penalty killers continue to improve. Games have been called tight early this season, so Minnesota must adjust. The penalty killers got the job done all four times Saturday night, but in the two games before the Gophers went shorthanded a total of 10 times and yielded four goals. Special teams usually take time at the beginning of the season, but the team could help themselves by eliminating the number of penalties. Minnesota has given up only three goals while at even strength this year.

Looking Ahead

The next four games will tell us a lot about just how good the Gopher team is. A trip to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame is on the horizon, but the Gophers will need all their focus on next weekend when Boston College comes to town. The always-talented Eagles will come to Mariucci with plenty of confidence after a 9-2 victory over Wisconsin Friday night. Jonny Gaudreau's seven points in three games leads Boston College in scoring. The showdown with Boston College brings together two of the nation's best teams and best freshman classes.

Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Gopher Hockey Press Report: Bemidji State

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Senior Tom Serratore will face off against his uncle's Bemidji State team this weekend.
Go Gophers!

Catch up on all the news around Gopher Hockey with this week's Gopher Hockey Press Report. 

*Adam Wilcox steady in net for Gophers Hockey (Star Tribune

*Serratores come together at Bemidji (Minnesota Daily)

*Sam Warning ready to take turn filling up the net (Pioneer Press)

*Gophers' goalie Adam Wilcox picking up where he left off (FSN)

*In-state rivalries still critical for Gophers despite new landscape (1500 ESPN)

*Condon and Rau lead Gophers on and off the ice (Carlson School of Management)

NHL: Good Night for the Gophers

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Kyle Okposo, Erik Johnson and Nick Bjugstad all tallied points in NHL action last night while Jordan Schroeder became the 13th Gopher to play in the NHL this season. 

Okposo helped the New York Islanders dig out of a one-goal deficit in route to a 3-2 win over Edmonton. Okposo's power-play -- his second goal of the season -- tied the game at 2-2 early in the second before the forward added the primary assist on the game-winning goal later in the period. Okposo now has six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games. 


Meanwhile, former Gopher Erik Johnson tallied his first goal of the season -- also on the power play in Colorado's 4-2 loss to Detroit last night. The defenseman took the puck from net to net for the goal, sparking a two-goal rally for the Avalanche.


Noteworthy: 
*Nick Bjugstad tallied his first career assist on Thursday night in Florida's 3-2 loss to Boston.  

*Paul Martin had a game-high 27:30 of ice time and was +2 in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win over Philadelphia. 

*Jordan Schroeder made his season debut for Vancouver in a 3-0 win over Thomas Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres. 

NHL: Vanek Scores, Bjugstad Returns to Lineup

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Tuesday night was full of former Gophers in NHL action including a trio of Gopher vs. Gopher games. 

Among those in action was Thomas Vanek, whose Buffalo Sabres took down Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders 4-1 in overtime. Vanek gave his team an even slate in the second period, tying the game at 2-2 with a power-play tally for his third goal of the season. Vanek now has five points (three goals, two assists) in eight games this season. 


Noteworthy: 

*The Florida Panthers added Nick Bjugstad to the active roster yesterday with the former Gopher making his season debut in a 4-3 loss to Nashville last night. Bjugstad is now the 12th former Gopher to skate in the NHL this season after Nate Schmidt made his pro debut over the weekend. 

*Paul Martin tallied the primary assist on Pittsburgh's game winner in a 3-2 win over Edmonton. 

*Erik Johnson followed suit with a helper on Colorado's game winner in a 3-2 win against Alex Goligoski and the Dallas Stars. 

*Phil Kessel and Toronto bested Keith Ballard and the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Tuesday with Kessel tallying an assist in the victory. 



What We Learned: 2013 Ice Breaker

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The Gophers captured the 2013 Ice Breaker this weekend at Mariucci Arena with victories over Mercyhurst and New Hampshire. Here is what we learned from the Gophers' first weekend:

 

Scoring Depth Looks Good

Coach Lucia said leading into the weekend that he didn't think the team has a 25-goal scorer this season, but he believed the team has more scoring depth than last year. Based on this week's results, he was right. The nine total goals scored this weekend by Minnesota came from eight different skaters. This accomplishment was even more impressive considering all four forward lines chipped in and two defensemen found the back of the net. In total, 14 different Gophers registered at least a point this weekend, including Justin Holl who assisted on two goals from his natural defensive position after playing forward last season.

 

These Freshmen Can Play

The most impressive young forward was Hudson Fasching. He combined with Kyle Rau and Sam Warning to create the Gophers' dangerous line during the Ice Breaker. Hudson showed play-making ability and speed to burn this weekend en-route to posting his first career goal and a pair of assists. Fasching is in the power-forward mold and he displayed no fear in going right to the net on many occasions. He was named to the 2013 Ice Breaker All-Tournament Team.

Justin Kloos sparkled on Friday night against Mercyhurst. He displayed allusiveness on the rush and scored a power-play goal in the second period. Vinni Lettieri earned praise from coach Lucia for his energy and scored the game-winning goal against New Hampshire. Defensively, two Gophers got their first taste of college hockey. Michael Brodzinski scored Friday night in his first game and Jake Bischoff earned key ice time as the Gophers were protecting a one-goal lead late Saturday night.

 

Wilcox Continues to Shine

Heading into the season, the area the Gophers felt the most confident about was goaltending. Sophomore Adam Wilcox demonstrated why this weekend. On Friday, Wilcox made 25 saves against the Lakers to pick up the fourth shutout of his career. On Saturday, he made the timely save again continuing the trend from last year. New Hampshire's Dalton Speelman thought he had tied the game with seven seconds left until Wilcox robbed him with a miraculous glove save. Adam would be the first to give the defense a lot of credit for how they preformed in front of him this weekend. The Gophers did not give up a goal all weekend at full strength.

 

What Needs Work:

No game is perfect, especially at the beginning of the season. The Gophers will be working on special teams during practice this week. The power play features a lot of new faces playing in new roles and looks like it will take time for everything to click. After the power play succeeded twice on Friday, it went 0-6 Saturday night and failed to generate many quality chances. The penalty kill also proved to be a weak point during the second period of Saturday's game. New Hampshire's two goals came with the man advantage and both came, in part, because Minnesota penalty killers gave the puck away cheaply in their own zone. The other area where the team will look for improvement is in the face-off dot. It may take time with a pair of new centers in the top six.

 

Looking Ahead:

Minnesota travels to Bemidji State next weekend to take on the Beavers. The trip will give us a first look at how this under-sized team will fare on an NHL-sized rink. Bemidji State will certainly try to take away the Gophers speed advantage. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes are made to the Gophers lineup as the team searches to find what players will develop the best chemistry. The Beavers lost and tied this weekend at St. Cloud State and are working in many new faces to their lineup.

Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 6 Mercyhurst 0

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The Gophers topped Mercyhurst, 6-0, tonight

 

First Victory in the Books

The Gophers won their season opener for the fourth-straight year. Their last loss on opening night came in 2009 to North Dakota. Tonight, the Gophers blew the game open with three goals in the second after having just a 1-0 lead after one period. The victory also continued a trend of lopsided victories to start the season. Two years ago, the Gophers bested Sacred Heart by a score of 9-0 and last season Michigan State was on the short end of a 5-1 score.  

Rau Steps UP

Kyle Rau scored the Gophers first goal of the season. It was a power-play marker 5:25 into the period. It was a typical-Rau goal. He was stationed at the side of the net and found himself with just enough room to shovel the puck home after it trickled to him. Kyle will be asked to shoulder a lot of the scoring load this season after the departures of talented players like Bjugstad, Haula, and Budish. Travis Boyd picked up a helper on the tally. He is hoping to spark his offensive output this year, so that should be a good confidence booster for him.

Junior Class

The Rau goal from Travis Boyd kicked off a great night for Minnesota's junior class. Rau later set up a goal for fellow classmate Sam Warning. Seth Ambroz also tallied an unassisted goal to add to the party. He threw the puck between his legs from below the goal line and it banked off of a Laker defender and into the net. The coaching staff said this week that they are hoping to see returning players elevate their games. The junior class certainly did that tonight. As mentioned above, with the loss of some talented players, the Gophers need someone to pick up the scoring slack.

 Impact Freshmen

Minnesota dressed five fresh faces in the lineup tonight. They wasted little time making an impact. Justin Kloos was the first rookie to score, notching his goal on the power play during the second period. Fellow freshman Michael Brodzinski capped the scoring for the night with a point shot late in the third period. Hudson Fasching also showed moments of glory. He set up Mike Reilly for a goal, registering an assist, and displayed blazing speed on an end-to-end rush before passing to Kyle Rau.

 Up Next

The Gophers will battle New Hampshire tomorrow night in the Ice Breaker Championship Game. New Hampshire downed Clarkson, , in Friday's other semifinal. The Gophers and Wildcats have a long history against each other, dating back to 1979. Many Gopher fans remember the 2003 NCAA Championship Game when Minnesota topped New Hampshire, 5-1. Overall, Minnesota owns a 13-2-2 record against the Wildcats. The puck drops tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. CT.

 

Gophers Meet the Media: Ice Breaker Tournament

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The 2013-14 Gopher hockey season commences this weekend as Minnesota hosts the 2013 Ice Breaker at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers will welcome Mercyhurst, New Hampshire, and Clarkson to the Twin Cities for the two-day tournament. Wednesday afternoon coach Don Lucia and members of the team met with the local media to discuss the opening weekend.

The Gophers will open with Mercyhurst on Friday night. The Lakers return a veteran group that includes three players who registered over 30 points last season. "They like to get up and down the rink. They are an older team like most of the teams from (Atlantic Hockey) are. It will be a real good challenge for our young guys," Lucia said.

Speaking of the young guys, the freshman got their first taste of collegiate play last weekend against Lethbridge. Overall, coach Lucia liked what he saw. "(The freshmen) did a good job. I was happy, I think some returning players improved from where they were a year ago and that is a real positive."

The influx of talented freshmen gives the coaching staff plenty of options for setting the lineup. "When I look at our team, I don't see a 25-goal scorer. However, I do see a lot of guys who have the potential to put the puck in the net," Lucia said. "We are balanced. I think we are a little deeper up front then we were a year ago. I think we can have four pretty balanced lines." While Lucia has some lines in mind, there is opportunity for players to take on large roles this season.

The players are aware that they cannot take any team lightly as the games begin to count this weekend. "(Mercyhurst) was picked to win their league. You definitely can't look past them. They are a good team. There a three solid teams coming in this weekend, so it will be fun to see where we are at," forward Seth Ambroz said.

With the season just 48 hours away there was a general feeling of excitement in the locker room . "We have been waiting for a long time. We have been working out all summer while taking classes. It is nice it is only two days away," defenseman Brady Skjei said.

Minnesota will first hit the ice at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday night against Mercyhurst. Earlier on Friday, New Hampshire will square off with Clarkson. The two winners will battle for the championship Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m., with the losers meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Both Gopher games can be heard on 1500 ESPN. The FOX Sports North network will broadcast both Gopher games this weekend. 

 

-Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

 

NHL: Martin's Sliding Score

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If you missed former Gopher Paul Martin's first goal of the year last night, check it out below. The Pittsburgh defenseman went down to one knee to put home the loose puck and give the Penguins a 2-0 lead in route to a 5-2 win over Carolina. Martin, who led the team with 24:34 of ice time last night, now has two points on the year. 


Also of note: Thomas Vanek assists on both of Buffalo's goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay last night, Kyle Okposo assisted on the game-winning goal in the Islanders' 6-1 win over Phoenix. 

NHL: Kessel's Birthday Goal

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Phil Kessel turned 26 yesterday -- a day after signing a $64 million, eight-year contract extension to stay with Toronto until 2021-22.  How did the former Gopher celebrate? By going out Wednesday night and erasing a first period 1-0 lead for the Philadelphia Flyers as the Maple Leafs scored three-straight goals in route to a 3-1 win -- moving Toronto to 2-0-0 early in the 2013-14 NHL season. 


Kessel now has two points in two games for the Maple Leafs after assisting on a goal in Toronto's 4-3 win over Montreal to open the season on Tuesday. 


Gophers Preseason Media Availability

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers are about to embark on their maiden voyage into Big Ten hockey. The new season brings with it many changes. In addition to competing in the new conference, the Gophers welcome eight fresh faces to the squad to replace the departure of six elite talents, who are all playing professional hockey this year.


Chances for players to assume largeer roles exist up and done the line up as the season begins. 

"Guys are going to be given an opportunity, whether it is playing the first line or the fourth line, and it is what (the players) do with it," head coach Don Lucia said. "We are going to have to do a lot of moving guys around during the early part of the season to figure out what the best combinations are going to be."

The freshmen class may be inexperienced at the collegiate level, but they are not short on talent and they will be expected to contribute this season. 

"We are going to have to have some of (the freshman) score for us if we are going to have a successful year," Lucia said. Veteran players will be counted upon to lead the way and show the younger Gophers what is expected from them.

One of those eight new skaters is redshirt freshman Connor Reilly. He returns to the ice this season after missing over a season of hockey while going through two major knee surgeries. Lucia knows it will take Reilly time to get back to where he was before the injury, but there are encouraging signs, "Week by week he will make tremendous strides. We have seen that already in practice. He has his good stick skills, his hockey sense, and bite to his game."

Connor will join his brothers Ryan and Mike in a Gophers sweater this season and Mike can't wait to see it. 

"We have been playing our whole lives together, so getting that feeling back is pretty special."

Despite all the changes among the skaters, sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox remains the anchor of the team. Lucia anticipates more of the same from Wilcox this season. 

"What I liked about his game last year was he made the timely save. When the game was tied, he made the big save to help us win the game and when we were ahead by a goal he would preserve it. He was very consistent."

For his part, Wilcox is excited to have a year of college hockey under his belt. "Last year, I did not know what to expect coming in after two years of juniors. Obviously, college is a whole different ball game. Now, I know what to expect." He comes into this season on the Big Ten's preseason watch list.

The Gophers will host the University of Lethbridge in an exhibition game this Saturday at 7 p.m. before they open up their regular season slate by hosting the Ice Breaker the following weekend. Fans can expect to see plenty of the young players against Lethbridge.

-Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock