Nick Bjugstad with Cole Johnson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-
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