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The Gophers men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday afternoon ahead of their last series at Mariucci Arena of the regular season. Minnesota enters the weekend two points behind St. Cloud State for the top spot in the WCHA with four games to go.
This weeks opponent, the Denver Pioneers, will be just as hungry as the Gophers. Denver sits in a tie for the final home-ice position for the WCHA playoffs. The Pioneers have given the Gophers fits over the years, including last season's sweep at Magness Arena.
"We have had our issues scoring goals. They are always good defensively, so we have to do a better job of getting second-chance opportunities and do a better job of getting traffic in front of the goaltender," head coach Don Lucia said.
Saturday is Senior Night at Mariucci Arena. Seth Helgeson is the lone senior on this year's team, meaning he will be the only player out on the ice for the pregame ceremony, "It is going to be odd, but the flower budget is going to be down and it probably will only take 30 seconds, so it will not be a distraction to the guys," Helgeson said.
Helgeson reflected on his four years playing for Minnesota, "I wish I could be here another four years. It is nice being here for all four years. I have had a great group of guys the last four years. It has been awesome."
Helgeson is a steady player for the Maroon & Gold. His numbers are not flashy, but his physical presence on the ice and character off the ice is not missed by coaches and teammates. Here is a sampling of what they had to say about Helgeson.
Coach Lucia --"Seth has done a good job. He is great with community service, he does well in school, and he is a guy who is an anchor (on the blue line.) When you do not notice him, he is at his best."
Nate Schmidt - "Seth is a staple on our team. Off the rink, he is a great guy and teammate. Definitely a guy full of character. When he gets to the rink, he is all business. He is one of those rare guys that can flip a switch and be totally dialed in around the rink, which is really helpful for our young defensemen."
Ben Marshall -- "I have been his (defensive) partner this whole year. He is really stable. He lets me do anything out there on the ice. I like to be offensive, and he understands that. When I mess up, he is always back there to help out."
-Written by University of Minnesota student intern Josh Brennock
Help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of Minnesota's fifth national championship as the University of Minnesota honors the 2003 Golden Gopher hockey team during tonight's game against Minnesota Duluth.
The first 5,000 fans to arrive at tonight's game will receive commemorative posters of the 2003 national championship team with members of the title team signing autographs from 6:15-6:45 on the concourse of Mariucci Arena. The Gophers will also honor the team during the first intermission.
Minnesota captured its fifth NCAA title and second-straight championship with a 5-1 win over New Hampshire in the 2003 NCAA championship game at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. Minnesota posted a 28-8-9 overall record in 2002-03 and for the second-straight season, the Gophers went the entire season without suffering consecutive losses. In addition to the national championship, Minnesota also captured the Broadmoor Trophy as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five champions. Paul Martin captured Second Team All-America honors while Thomas Vanek was the nation's leading rookie scorer and finished one goal shy of John Mayasich's freshman goal record.
Saturday's series finale with the Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. at Mariucci Arena. The Big Ten Network and 1500 ESPN will broadcast the action.
The Gophers captured a 5-3 victory over visiting Minnesota Duluth tonight.
Weekend Starts with a Win
The Gophers claimed victory in their first game at Mariucci Arena this month. The win keeps the Gophers alive in the battle for the MacNaughton Cup. The two points did not come easy. The Bulldogs outshot the Gophers for most of the game and fought back from two separate deficits to tie the game at three. Austin Fairley tallied two goals for Duluth. In the end, the Gophers had too much firepower. They reversed the shot counter, for a final total of 34-29, and scored two late goals.
Game Winner From Rau
Kyle Rau broke a 3-3 tie with 6:35 remaining in the game. The play started with Nick Bjugstad winning a face off in the Duluth end and getting the puck back to Zach Budish. Zach's shot from the point deflected off of Bjugstad's skate and right to Kyle Rau. Rau made no mistake putting the puck away to give the Gophers a lead they would never relinquish. Kyle's goal proved to be the game winner. Erik Haula added an empty-net goal to seal the game with five seconds left.
It took the Gophers over four minutes to register their first shot on goal, but they made it count. Nate Condon's shot snuck past Minnesota Duluth goalie Matt McNeely and crept just over the line. The goal came while the Bulldogs had the first three shots of the game and many of the best chances in the first period. The Gophers thought they had a second goal in the opening frame, but it was waived off for goalie interference. The first period ended with the Gophers leading 1-0.
Condon Ignites the Second Line
The coaches have switched up lines throughout the season to provide a spark. Tonight, Nate Condon was put back on the second line with Sam Warning and Erik Haula. Nate made an instant impact on the line tonight. He scored the Gophers first goal of the game and assisted on Sam Warning's goal in the second period. Sam's goal came at a particularly key time because Duluth evened the game less than two minutes earlier. Warning cut in off the wing, made a sweet move around one defender, and buried the puck behind McNeely. Erik Haula also scored two goals on the night.
Gophers Go For Sweep Tomorrow
Every game is critical for the Gophers for the remainder of the season if they are to recapture the MacNaughton Cup. Tomorrow's rematch with the struggling Bulldogs provides an excellent opportunity for the Gophers to keep the heat on the top teams in the WCHA. Duluth is winless in their last eight regular season games. At Wednesday's media availability, coaches and players stressed the importance of putting together a complete weekend and not just playing a strong first game. Tomorrow's game will determine the success of the weekend for the Gophers.
Written by Communications Student intern Josh Brennock