MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- As part of the University of Minnesota's support for the upcoming College Colors Day, Gopher Hockey student-athletes Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly will participate in a fan appreciation autograph signing this Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Mall of America.
The duo will greet fans and sign autographs from 1-2 p.m. CT on the first floor, Northeast Corner Concourse of the mall.
Gopher fans are also encouraged to show their support for the University of Minnesota all next week including the official College Colors Day - Friday, Aug. 29.
College Colors Day is a day set aside for all universities across the country to engage their fans in wearing their respective school's colors. This year, it has also become a competition where tweets & Instagram posts are being recorded, with points going to the schools. For the University of Minnesota to score points the hashtags: #CollegeColors & #SkiUMah must be used. Learn more at CollegeColorsDay.com.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Gopher Hockey alum Justin Holl has agreed to terms with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the organization announced on Monday. The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted Holl in the second round (54th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The Tonka Bay, Minn., native was a four-year letter winner for the Gophers and helped the Maroon & Gold to a pair of NCAA Frozen Four appearances as well as three-straight regular-season conference championships (a first for the program). The defenseman skated in 142 career games for Minnesota and ended his career with 38 points (eight goals, 30 assists).
Holl's last point for the Gophers will go down as one of the program's top plays in the team's 92-year history. With the Gophers tied 1-1 with North Dakota in the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal, the senior sent Minnesota to the national championship game when he scored the deciding goal -- a shorthanded one at that -- with 0.6 seconds left in regulation. Moreover, it was his first and only goal of the season after tallying 12 assists heading into the Frozen Four.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Hockey announced today the blue and white team designations for its National Junior Evaluation Camp that will be taking place in Lake Placid, New York, Aug. 2-9. The 42 athletes participating in the camp have been separated into two groups for the first three days of practices and games vs. Finland and Sweden.
The Gophers feature five skaters at this year's evaluation camp. Michael Brodzinski, Ryan Collins and Hudson Fasching will skate for Team USA White while Taylor Cammarata and Vinni Lettieri will compete with Team USA Blue. Incoming freshman Leon Bristedt will also be competing at Lake Placid for Sweden.
On Aug. 5, Team USA will trim its roster and a single U.S. squad will finish the camp with practices and games against Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden.
Team Blue will be coached by Kevin Patrick (Schenectady, N.Y./Univ. of Vermont) and Tony Granato (Downers Grove, Ill./Detroit Red Wings). Team White will be coached by Mike Ayers (Hingham, Mass./Boston College) and Mike Sullivan (Centerville, Mass.).
Notes: Of the 42 players invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, 14 competed in the United States Hockey League during the 2013-14 season, including 10 from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program ... Nineteen players competed in the college hockey ranks last season ... Thirteen of the 42 players participated in last year's camp ... The 2015 U.S. National Junior Team will be selected following a pre-tournament camp in December to be held in Boston ... At the 2015 IIHF World Junior Champio
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - Gopher Hockey All-American and team captain Kyle Rau will return to the University of Minnesota for his senior season, the Eden Prairie, Minn., native announced today during Florida Panthers prospect development camp.
"I love playing hockey at Minnesota and wearing the Maroon & Gold," Rau said. "Deep down, I know that we have unfinished business here. With the talent we have coming back and the new guys coming in, I think we can have a really special season next year. I'd also like to thank the Florida Panthers. They are a great organization, and I appreciate their understanding of my decision."
In three years with the Maroon & Gold, Rau has helped the Gophers to three-straight conference regular-season championships - a first for the historic college hockey program - as well as two Frozen Four appearances.
Rau was a CCM/AHCA Division I Second Team All-American in 2013-14 after leading the Gophers to the inaugural Big Ten regular-season title and the national championship game. Rau led the team in scoring with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists), perhaps none more important that the junior's overtime goal over Michigan on March 14 to clinch the conference championship for the Gophers. A Second Team All-Big Ten honoree as well as an Academic All-Big selection, Rau earned Minnesota's John Mayasich Outstanding Student-Athlete Award this season.
The 2013-14 campaign also saw Rau become just the 80th member of Minnesota's 100-point club and the 52nd member of the Gophers' 75-assist club.
Minnesota's active leading scorer with 123 points (47 goals, 76 assists) in 121 games, Rau has tallied 40 or more points in each of his three seasons with the team. The forward's scoring ability has the potential to sway a game in the Gophers' favor -- the team is 65-11-6 all-time when Rau records a point and 32-2-0 all-time when he tallies multiple points in a game.
The Florida Panthers selected Rau with the 91st overall pick (third round) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Brady Skjei at the 2014 Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - Gopher Hockey defenseman Brady Skjei has confirmed he will return to the University of Minnesota for his junior season in 2014-15.
The Lakeville, Minn., native is currently participating at the New York Rangers Prospect Development Camp at Madison Square Garden Training Center and informed the National Hockey League (NHL) organization of his decision on Thursday.
"I can't wait to come back and build off of what we accomplished last year," Skjei said. "It's a new season and a new team, but I'm excited about our potential."
Skjei has helped Minnesota to two-straight regular-season conference titles since joining the team in 2012-13 including the inaugural Big Ten title in 2013-14 while the Gophers also advanced to the NCAA national championship game last season.
The defenseman posted career highs across the board in his sophomore campaign with 14 points, six goals and eight assists in 40 games while also earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and Academic All-Big Ten honors. For his career, Skjei has tallied 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 76 games for the Gophers.
Skjei has also been part of a defensive unit that has ranked third nationally and first in its conference for goals allowed per game in each of the last two seasons.
A product of the U.S. National Development Team Program (USNDTP) in Ann Arbor, Mich., Skjei missed one game in 2013-14 to compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden alongside Gophers teammate Hudson Fasching and under head coach Don Lucia.
The 19th Gopher to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, Skjei was selected 28th overall by the Rangers in 2012.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - The Minnesota Wild have signed Gopher Hockey alum Stu Bickel to a one-year, two-way contract, the National Hockey League (NHL) organization announced on Tuesday evening.
The Chanhassen, Minn., native had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 24 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2013-14 and appeared in 67 games for the New York Rangers from 2011-13 with nine assists. The defenseman also appeared in 18 playoff games for the Rangers in 2011-12.
Bickel skated for the Gophers during the 2007-08 season and notched seven points (one goal, six assists).
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Welcome back, Thomas Vanek!
The Gophers All-American and nine-year NHL veteran signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild, the National Hockey League (NHL) organization announced on Tuesday, just hours after the free agency period officially began.
"Thomas is an elite offensive talent who showed a strong desire to play in Minnesota," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release. "We are excited to welcome him to our organization."
In 663 regular-season NHL games, the Vienna, Austria native has tallied 556 points while his 277 career goals are the eighth most among all NHL players since the forward joined the league in 2006-06. At 6-for-2 and 217 pounds, Vanek has also added 30 points and 20 goals in 53 career playoff games. The fifth overall selection by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Vanek has spent the majority of his career with the Sabres organization before moving twice last season - first to the New York Islanders and later to the Montreal Canadiens. Between the three teams, Vanek totaled 68 points and 27 goals in 78 games last season.
"It doesn't get much better for me right now; in the end, we made it work," Vanek told Sportsnet. "What's more exciting is how good the team is...It's a team that is very deep, and I know I can add to that."
Prior to signing a professional contract, Vanek recorded 113 points and 57 goals in 83 career games over two seasons at the University of Minnesota. Vanek led the Gophers in scoring both years and helped the Gophers capture the 2003 NCAA title, having scored game-winning goals over both Michigan in the semifinal and New Hampshire in the championship game. The forward was named the Frozen Four MVP for the performance and went on to earn Second Team All-America honors the following season.
According to Mike Russo of the Star Tribune, Vanek's deal with the Wild is for $19.5 million over three years while the Austrian will wear No. 26 as he did as a member of the Gophers.
The signing of Vanek now gives the Wild three Gopher Hockey alums as the forward joins Keith Ballard and Erik Haula on Minnesota's roster. Vanek and Ballard were teammates for two seasons at the University of Minnesota (2002-03, 2003-04) including the Gophers' national championship in 2003.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - With Father's Day fast approaching, here's your chance to give dad the greatest seat in the house - his own club-level seat from Mariucci Arena.
Approximately 150 club-level seats from Mariucci Arena will go on sale to the public Thursday, June 12, through the University of Minnesota ReUse Center. Each seat costs 40 dollars while the inventory will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Any remaining inventory after Thursday will be available for purchase in person on the first Saturday of the month from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each seat must be purchased in person at the University of Minnesota ReUse Center (883 29th Ave. SE).
Since opening in 1993, Mariucci Arena has seen the Gophers go 290-113-45 (.696 winning percentage) at the venue including a 48-10-6 mark (.790) since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. The Gophers went 15-1-3 at Mariucci Arena during the 2013-14 campaign - marking the fewest losses ever in the facility's 20 year history.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - First Team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Mike Reilly will return to the University of Minnesota men's hockey program for his junior season, the defenseman told the team this week.
"I'm excited to be coming back to Minnesota next season," Reilly told GopherSports.com. "We've been incredibly successful over the last two years, and I'm looking forward to more of the same next year."
The Chanhassen, Minn., native was the first Gopher to earn First Team All-America honors since Ryan Stoa in 2009 and was also a First Team All-Big Ten selection for the 2013-14 campaign. The sophomore led all Big Ten defensemen and ranked among the top-10 defensemen nationally with nine goals, 24 assists and 33 points this season.
Reilly helped the Gophers win the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game as a sophomore in 2013-14 and was a member of Minnesota's WCHA regular-season championship squad as a freshman in 2012-13.
In 78 career games, the defenseman has tallied 47 points, 12 goals and 35 assists over two years with the Maroon & Gold. Reilly has missed just three games so far in his Minnesota career after being named to the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team and helping the program to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. The defenseman tallied a goal and two assists at the tournament.
In his junior season, Reilly could potentially become just the sixth Gopher in program history to repeat as a First Team All-American (Jordan Leopold, Mike Crowley, Brian Bonin, Jack McCartan, John Mayasich) while the Gophers will compete for their fourth-straight conference regular-season title and the team's third trip to the Frozen Four in four years.
The defenseman is one of three Reilly brothers on Minnesota's roster (Connor, Ryan) while their father, also Mike, is a Gopher Hockey alum.
Reilly was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.