Gophers Represent on U.S. Olympic Roster

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Go Gophers! Go Gophers!
Four former Gophers will be headed to Sochi next month as part of the  2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. USA Hockey announced the squad on Wednesday as part of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic festivities in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Former Gophers Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Paul Martin were named to the U.S. roster while current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant coach with the U.S. team. 

"We went through a very thorough process to get to today and could not be happier with the team we've selected," said David Poile, general manager of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team and also the GM and president of hockey operations for the NHL's Nashville Predators. "We're fortunate to have probably the deepest talent pool we've ever had in our country and that made for some very difficult decisions. In the end, however, we're confident we've selected a group of players that puts us in the best position to have success in Sochi."

The Gophers have had at least one representative in the last 18 Winter Olympic Games, dating back to 1936. While all three Gophers have skated for USA Hockey in the past only Kessel hasskated for the U.S. Olympic team previously, earning a silver medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Richards, meanwhile, competed as a defenseman for the U.S. at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer. 

"We appreciate the work done by David (Poile) and all those involved in putting this roster together," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "We look forward to what will be a great Olympics in Sochi, where hockey will be at the center of attention."

The men's ice hockey competition at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi runs from Feb. 13-23. For more information on the games as well as the U.S. squad, visit USAHockey.com. 

Related Links: 
Martin Pumped for Opportunity to Play for USA (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Stauber Named to U.S. Women's Olympic Team Staff (Gophersports.com)

Guentzel Fills in for the Don Lucia Radio Show

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Go Gophers! TopTenGo Gophers!Mike Guentzel
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Listen to tonight's show: 1500ESPN.com | Archived Radio Broadcasts

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Don Lucia Radio Show returns to the airwaves of 1500 ESPN for the 2013-14 season, airing live on Mondays during the year from the Beacon Public House inside the Commons Hotel on campus. 

For tonight's show, associate head coach Mike Guentzel fills in for Lucia with the show airing live from 6:00-6:30 p.m. CT on 1500 ESPN with co-hosts Wally Shaver and Jeff Dubay.

With Lucia serving as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden, Guentzel will serve as acting head coach during the winter break as well as Minnesota's two games of the Mariucci Classic (against Colgate at 7 p.m. CT on Jan. 3 and against either Ferris State or RPI at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4). 

This week's radio show will examine Minnesota's preparations for a busy month of January as the Gophers return to action with the Mariucci Classic, then travel to Penn State for the first time in program history in a rare Sunday-Monday series before returning home for a short week of practice before the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday, Jan. 17. The Gophers then participate in Hockey Day Minnesota the following day at Mariucci Arena. The following week, Minnesota hosts the inaugural North Star College Cup on Jan. 24-25 at Xcel Energy Center. 

Guentzel will also talk about Minnesota's first half of the season that saw the Gophers go 12-2-2 including the first-ever Big Ten win and sweep against Wisconsin and the league's first-ever shootout last Friday against Michigan State. 

For the second-season in a row, Beacon Public House will host a live viewing of the Don Lucia Radio Show with food and drink specials every Monday night for Gopher Hockey fans. Learn more about Beacon Public House here. 

AHL: Ryan Potulny Signs with Hershey

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Go Gophers!Ryan Potulny
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Gophers alum Ryan Potulny has signed an American Hockey League (AHL) contract with the Hershey Bears, Bears President/General Manager Doug Yingst announced over the weekend. 

The two-time All-WCHA selection was a member of the Minnesota hockey program from 2003-06 and registered 118 career points (68 goals, 50 assists) in 100 games.The Gophers made the NCAA tournament in each of his three years at the 'U' including a run to the 2005 NCAA Frozen Four in his sophomore season. As a freshman, Potulny helped Minnesota to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) playoff title. 

In 2005-06 (his final year at Minnesota), Potulny was a First Team All-American and led the nation in scoring with 38 goals and 63 points. The forward was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the Gophers captured the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions. 

Potulny joins former Gophers Nate Schmidt, Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stoa on Hershey's roster.

More from HersheyBears.com...

Following his signing by the Washington Capitals to a two-year deal in July of 2011, Potulny played a total of 127 regular-season games in a Hershey sweater. In his first season with the Bears, the 6-0, 179-pound native of Grand Forks, North Dakota led the team and tied for third in the AHL with 33 goals. His 65 points placed him third among his Hershey teammates. Of his 33 tallies, 19 came on the power play, which paced the entire American Hockey League. Potulny also led the Bears with five game-winning goals.

In 2012-13, Potulny led the Bears with 19 goals, while his 41 points ranked fourth on the squad.

During through the season prior to joining the Bears, Potulny was acquired by the Ottawa Senators and came to the AHL to help the Binghamton Senators capture the Calder Cup championship. His 14 goals and 26 points in the 2011 run to the title led all postseason players.

A 2009 member of the Planet USA All-Star squad, Potulny has produced 299 points (147 goals, 152 assists) in 370 AHL games with Philadelphia, Springfield, Rockford, Binghamton and Hershey.

Potulny has also appeared in 126 NHL games with Philadelphia, Edmonton, Chicago and Ottawa, registering 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists). He was originally selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round (87th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

NHL: A Pair of Tip-In, Power-Play Game Winners

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On Friday's 1500 ESPN morning show, Jeff Dubay talked at length about former Gopher Thomas Vanek's goal-scoring ability -- specifically his talent at tipping pucks in front of the net. 

Last night, Vanek showed off that ability -- netting the eventual game winner 1:18 into the third period with a power-play goal as the New York Islanders topped the New York Rangers 5-3. The goal was Vanek's 11th of the season (23rd point) while fellow Gophers alum Kyle Okposo picked up the primary assist on the score (Okposo has 11-20--31 this season as well). 
 

Speaking of tip-in, game-winning power-play goals, Blake Wheeler picked up one for Winnipeg in a 5-2 victory over Nick Bjugstad and the Florida Panthers. The former Gopher captain now has 12 goals and 26 points this season as the Jets ended Florida's five-game winning streak. Wheeler now has five goals in his last five games. 


Bjugstad added a goal for the Panthers -- his seventh goal of the season and 14th point -- after picking off an errant pass in the Jets' defensive zone. 

Eyes on Sweden: USA Falls in Exhibition Game

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On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, Gophers Brady Skjei and Hudson Fasching are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. 

The U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates using "Eyes on Sweden".

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ANGELHOLM, Sweden (From USA Hockey) - The U.S. National Junior Team lost to Sweden, 4-2, tonight in pre-tournament action at Lindab Arena. Ryan Hartman (West Dundee, Ill.) and Dan O'Regan (Needham, Mass./Boston University) supplied the U.S. goals.

Team USA is holding training camp for the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Angelholm until Dec. 23. The U.S. has a final pre-tournament game Sunday (Dec. 22) vs. Finland. Tournament play in Malmo, Sweden, begins Dec. 26.

"There was a lot to like in how we played tonight," said Don Lucia, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "I thought we had vast improvement in our game since we last played. I thought we played with very good energy, especially after the first period. We got pucks in deep and a lot of good looks. Unfortunately, it was one of those nights where their goalie made some outstanding saves. Five-on-five, we scored a couple good deflection goals. The minus was that we gave up two power-play goals."

During a power play at 6:54 of the first period, Sweden's Andreas Johnson one-timed a shot from the left slot high into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

Sweden doubled its lead with 21 seconds left in the opening frame when Alexander Wennberg swatted a high rebound into the goal from the edge of the crease.

Neither team scored in the second period, though USA doubled Sweden in shots on goal, 12-6, for a two-period shot advantage of 23-12.

Hartman cut the U.S. deficit in half at 1:43 of the third period. Ian McCoshen (Hudson, Wis./Boston College) stopped a Sweden clearing attempt and wristed a shot that Hartman tipped out of midair in the low slot.

Sebastian Collberg reclaimed Sweden's two-goal lead by speeding through the right circle and firing a hard wrist shot into the near top corner.

While on the power play, Sweden buried a rebound at 17:25 to gain a 4-1 advantage.

Team USA capped the scoring at 19:04 when O'Regan redirected a left point shot by Jaccob Slavin (Erie, Colo./Colorado College). Riley Barber (Pittsburgh, Pa./Miami Univ.) also assisted.

Anthony Stolarz (Edison, N.J.) made 19 saves in the loss. His counterpart, Oscar Dansk, stopped 36 shots.

Team USA is back on the ice Sunday (Dec. 22) when it takes on Finland in the pre-tournament finale in Angelholm, Sweden. Game time is 1:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET).

NHL: Ballard Breaks Drought

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We might be a little partial since he was a Gopher All-American and helped Minnesota win back-to-back national championships, but Keith Ballard is without question one of our favorite NHL players and favorite people in hockey. 

So it was great to see him snap a 12-game point drought last night with an assist in Minnesota's game at Pittsburgh (to be fair, he had three assists in two games before the stretch). Ballard has five assists this season with the Wild after signing with the organization in the off-season. 
 

Noteworthy:
*Alex Goligoski had a team-high 25:58 of ice time in Dallas' 4-1 win at Vancouver last night. 

*Nick Bjugstad and the Florida Panthers topped Ottawa 4-2 on Thursday for the team's fifth-straight win. 

NHL: Leddy, Okposo, Johnson Tally Goals

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Former Gophers Nick Leddy, Kyle Okposo and Erik Johnson tallied goals for their respective NHL teams last night with Johnson adding an assist for his third point in the last two games. 

Leddy, who won the Stanley Cup last season with Chicago, added an insurance power-play goal for the Blackhawks in last night's 3-1 win over Nashville. The defenseman's rebound attempt went in and out of the net so fast the goal had to be reviewed by officials and eventually confirmed. Leddy has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) this season for Chicago while the Blackhawks have won five of their last six. 


While Alex Goligoski and the Dallas Stars got revenge on Johnson and the Avalanche with a 3-2 win on Tuesday after Monday's 6-2 loss, it was Johnson who found the scoreboard for the second-straight game. After adding his eighth assist earlier in the game, Johnson tallied his fourth goal to give Colorado a 2-1 lead in the second period although Dallas would go on to score two unanswered goals. 


Finally, Okposo put the Islanders up 1-0 with his 11th goal of the year just 11 seconds into Tuesday's second period against Tampa Bay. The forward, who has 30 points this season including three goals and four points in his last four games, absolutely blasted his shot from the point to beat Ben Bishop in goal. The Lightning, however, would go on to win 3-2 in a shootout. 


With only two games on the schedule for tonight and Paul Martin still out with an injury for Pittsburgh, we'll be off until Friday. 

Eyes on Sweden: Fasching Nets Overtime Game Winner

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On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, Gophers Brady Skjei and Hudson Fasching are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. 

The U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates using "Eyes on Sweden".

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MANKATO, Minn. (From USA Hockey) - Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn./University of Minnesota) scored 3:41 into overtime to lift the U.S. National Junior Team to a 3-2 victory over Minnesota State tonight in pre-tournament action at Verizon Wireless Center. Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo./University of Denver) and Ian McCoshen (Hudson, Wis./Boston College) also scored for Team USA.



Team USA travels to Sweden tomorrow (Dec. 18) to continue its preparation for the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. Tournament play in Malmo, Sweden, begins Dec. 26.

"i think we learned some things with our team," said Don Lucia, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "We put some people in some positions maybe they haven't been in a lot. I thought our goalies did a good job tonight. We didn't give up any five-on-five goals. Obviously, Hudson Fasching made a great play on the game-winning goal."

Following a scoreless first period, Minnesota State capitalized on a power play at 6:05 of middle frame. From the right side of the net, Jean-Paul Lafontaine tucked a rebound behind Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine/Providence College).

Shore responded for Team USA at 8:51 with a pinpoint wrist shot from the right circle that hit the top corner of the net. Jaccob Slavin (Erie, Colo./Colorado College) and Steve Santini (Mahopac, N.Y./Boston College) picked up the assists.

MSU regained the lead with another power-play goal at 2:44 of the third period. Johnny McInnis chipped a centering pass over the glove of Anthony Stolarz (Edison, N.J.).

Team USA scored with the man-advantage at 9:03, tying the game, 2-2. From the right point, McCoshen one-timed a feed from Anthony DeAngelo (Philadelphia, Pa.) into the net. Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill.) also drew an assist.

On the game-winning goal, Fasching raced down the left wing, deked around a defenseman and stretched the puck around the goalie and inside the right post. Slavin collected the primary assist.

Gillies stopped 11 of 12 shots in 29:35. Stolarz made nine saves on 10 shots in 33:39.

Team USA is back in action Friday (Dec. 20) when it faces Sweden in a pre-tournament game in Angelholm, Sweden.


Eyes on Sweden: Catching Up at Camp

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On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, Gophers Brady Skjei and Hudson Fasching are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. 

The U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates using "Eyes on Sweden".

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MINNEAPOLIS -- With the U.S. National Junior Team hosting training camp at Mariucci Arena this week, NHL.com caught up with head coach Don Lucia to talk about the team. 


Lucia and the U.S. squad will head to Mankato following today's morning practice for an exhibition game against Minnesota State tonight at 7:37 p.m. CT tonight at Verizon Wireless Center. Tonight's game can be streamed on America One with Comcast broadcasting the action on channel 999 in the Twin Cities and Charter showing the game on 826 HD, 226 SD. 

NHL: If At First You Don't Succeed...

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Gopher Hockey alum Erik Johnson's first shot attempt in the below video might not have found the back of the net, but his second try sure did. The first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft scored his third goal of the year on Monday night as the Colorado Avalanche topped Alex Goligoski and the Dallas Stars 6-2 in Denver. 


Johnson, who has 10 points in 32 games for Colorado this season, is tied for the team lead in plus/minus at +18. 

While the Stars ended up losing the contest, Goligoski picked up his eighth assist of the season in the loss. He, too, has 10 points this season for Dallas.