Gopher Hockey Press Report: Michigan

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Catch up on all the news around around Gopher Hockey as No. 2 Minnesota prepares for a Big Ten Conference series against No. 10/11 Michigan this weekend at Mariucci Arena. 

College Hockey News: Hudson Crossing

Alums:

Reminder, Friday's series opener with the Wolverines is set for 8:04 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network (Dan Kelly, Ben Clymer, Fred Pletsch) while Saturday's finale is slated for a 7:10 p.m. puck drop on FOX Sports North (Doug McLeod, Ben Clymer, Kevin Gorg). Both games will also be streamed on BTN2Go.com. Radio broadcasts for both games will be on the Gopher Radio Network and flagship station 1500 ESPN (Wally Shaver, Frank Mazzocco). 

Gophers Meet the Media: Michigan

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The Gophers will be back inside the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena this weekend when they host No. 10/11 Michigan. Coach Don Lucia and members of the team met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the clash with another one of college hockey's iconic programs.

Both teams will be hungry to reverse poor results from the past weekend. The Gophers were swept at Wisconsin for the first time since 1999 and Wolverines suffered a surprising 4-0 loss at Penn State. Minnesota knows their biggest problem is a lack of goal scoring. 

"It is not easy to score goals and it gets harder as the second half wears on," Lucia said. "We did a lot of things well over the course of the (Wisconsin) series. Hopefully, we will continue to do those."

The low goal totals have become a worrying trend for Minnesota. The Gophers have scored just one goal in four of their last eight games. "We have had plenty of opportunities. We just have to bear down and score," defenseman Brady Skjei said.

Defenseman Justin Holl is excited to put last weekend's disappointment in the rear-view mirror and face the challenge a program like Michigan presents. "I think we would rather have it this way instead of playing a softer team. I think is good that we play a tough team and test ourselves right away."

Minnesota has squared off with Michigan 259 times over the years, but not since 2010 when the Gophers captured a 3-1 victory. Fans can expect up-tempo games and lots of transition opportunities. "Michigan is like us. They might not have a dominate offensive player, but they have three lines that can score, a mobile defense, and a goaltender that is playing very well," Lucia said.

As we witness the beginning Big Ten hockey conference, there is a desire to see old rivalries get reinvigorated. The Minnesota-Michigan rivalry is one of those. "I think it will become a really good rivalry," Lucia said. "We had some big games with them and they have had great teams year in and year out. I think this is next rivalry to really ramp up in the Big Ten for us." With four of the Gophers' last eight regular season games against the Maize and Blue there is an expectation to see the rivalry flourish in the near future.

Minnesota goes back to a traditional Friday-Saturday series against the Wolverines. Friday's contest begins at 8 p.m. CT and air live on the Big Ten Network. Saturday's game starts at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen on Fox Sports North. Both games can be heard on 1500 ESPN with Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco.

Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

 

Gopher Hockey Press Report: Wisconsin

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Gophers Meet the Media: Wisconsin

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The Gophers will be in Madison later this week to conclude their regular-season series with the Badgers. Minnesota swept Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena back in November. Coach Don Lucia and members of the team met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview the Boarder Battle.

Games against Wisconsin are traditionally tight, defensive affairs. 

"We know that we are going to have to win a 2-1 or 3-1 type of game," Lucia said. "For us to be effective this is the type of weekend where Hudson Fasching and Seth Ambroz, guys who are big and strong around the net, need to score some goals."

The Badgers have made good use of home ice this season, compiling a 13-2-1 record. "It is a good environment for our guys to play in. It will be especially good for our young guys to be put in that environment," Lucia said. The Gophers have won at least one game at the Kohl Center every season since 2007-08.

Captain Nate Condon will play collegiate hockey in Madison for the last time this weekend. He will do so in front of an estimated 20 family members. "It is always fun to go back and play because a bunch of my family is there," Condon said. "(Current Badgers) are the guys I played with in youth hockey, so it has always been fun to play against them."

Seth Ambroz scored four goals against the Badgers during the November series, including both game winners. "The biggest thing is that the team comes out with a pair of wins. Hopefully, I can contribute as much as possible and continue being successful against Wisconsin," Ambroz said. "Everything is just a little bit more important when it is a rivalry,"

Goaltender Adam Wilcox posted his sixth career shutout on Saturday against Michigan State. "Adam is pretty consistent. I think that is the one trait I like most about him," Lucia said. Wilcox's play over the past couple of weeks has allowed the Gophers to win games despite the offense's lack of rhythm. "Wilcox has been playing really well and that is great, but we do have to find our game offensively and put a few more goals in," Ambroz said.

The injury report remains unchanged from last week. Minnesota will be without the services of Tom Serratore and Michael Brodzinski, but everyone else is available for the trip to Madison.

The schedule throws another curveball at the Gophers this week with games on Thursday and Friday. Thursday's action gets underway at 7:30 p.m. CT and Friday's contest will begin at 8 p.m. CT. The Big Ten Network will broadcast both games live. Fans can listen to Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco call the games on 1500 ESPN.

Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Don't Miss the Don Lucia Radio Show Monday Night

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Nate Condon with the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy. 
Go Gophers!

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. 

Join Lucia and co-host Wally Shaver on Mondays throughout the season with each show airing live from 6:00-6:30 p.m. CT on 1500 ESPN. 

This week, the Don Lucia Radio Show looks back at Minnesota's series with Michigan State that saw the Gophers go to their fifth shootout of the season on Friday before picking up a 1-0 shutout victory over the Spartans on Saturday. 

The Gophers return to action this weekend with a rare Thursday-Friday Big Ten series in Madison. Minnesota and Wisconsin face off on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. CT (BTN, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN) before closing out the series on Friday at 8 p.m. (BTN, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN).

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. 

Gophers Meet the Media: Michigan State

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The No. 1 Gophers will welcome Michigan State to Mariucci Arena this weekend for a two-game set. The series kicks off Minnesota's 12-game stretch against Big Ten opponents to close out the regular season. Select Gopher players and head coach Don Lucia met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the showdown with the Spartans and events of the past couple weeks.

The Gophers took four of a possible six points from the Spartans during a road trip in early December. 

"They are a good defensive team. (Goalie Jake Hildebrand) is very good," coach Lucia said. The Spartans dropped a pair of game last weekend to their archrival Michigan.

The last three weeks offered unique quirks with a Monday game, an outdoor game, and a trophy. 

"It was pretty crazy. It was a lot of new experiences, even for the guys who have been here for a few years," said forward Travis Boyd. "It was fun, but at the same time it was a little hectic."

This week's return to Mariucci means the Gophers can fall back into a routine. Minnesota recently completed a stretch of four games at four different venues.

"It is good to be at home again. We are looking forward to the Big Ten rivalries picking up again," said defenseman Mike Reilly.

The non-conference portion of the Gophers schedule is now complete with Minnesota posting an 11-2-3 record out of conference. The Gophers will face strictly Big Ten opposition prior to the NCAA postseason. 

"(The schedule) is starting to ramp up now," Lucia said. "We have not seen Michigan yet, we have to go to Madison, and we have a very difficult finish at Ohio State and at Michigan."

Minnesota is currently riding a 12-game unbeaten streak -- the longest active unbeaten streak in the nation -- but the players know their recent hockey hasn't been their best. 

"We have to give a ton of credit to Adam Wilcox for this past weekend," Reilly said. "We have to pick it up (going forward) and start focusing a little bit better."

The Gophers will be forced to play with five defensemen on Friday. Michael Brodzinski will be out a few weeks with a lower-body injury and Ben Marshall must miss out on Friday's action after receiving his third game misconduct of the year in the title tilt of the North Star College Cup. Marshall is eligible to return to the Gopher lineup on Saturday. Tom Serratore also sustained a lower-body injury on Saturday and will be sidelined a few weeks.

Friday's puck drop is at 8 p.m. CT and will be shown live on BTN. Saturday's contest begins at 7 p.m. CT and will be shown live on FSN Plus. Fans can listen to Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco call both games this weekend on 1500 ESPN.

-Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Video: Rau's Shootout Goal Featured on NCAA Top Plays

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Kyle Rau's backhand, five-hole, shootout goal from Saturday's inaugural North Star College Cup championship game was featured on the NCAA's Top Five Plays of the Week. Check it out: 
Rau, along with fellow junior Seth Amborz, tallied shootout goals after Minnesota and UMD battled to a 4-4 overtime tie on Saturday night. At the other end of the ice, Adam Wilcox turned away both shootout attempts he faced after matching his career best performance with 38 saves in the game. The shootout win was Minnesota's first in four attempts this season. 

The Gophers return to Big Ten action this weekend at home against Michigan State. Friday's opener is set for 8 p.m. (BTN, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN) while Saturday's finale is set for 7 p.m. (FSN+, BTN2Go.com, 1500ESPN.com). 

NHL: Stoa Recalled By Capitals

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Ryan Stoa with the Colorado Avalanche.
Go Gophers!

Former Minnesota All-American Ryan Stoa has been recalled by the Washington Capitals and has joined the team in Buffalo ahead of tonight's game with the Sabres. Stoa is a game-time decision according to the Capitals with tonight's game set for 6:30 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network. 

"Ryan's played well down there (with Hershey)," Washington head coach Adam Oates said during today's media availability. "He's a good skater, and we're trying to stay as fast as we can." 

Stoa spent four seasons at the 'U' and totaled 97 career points (47 goals, 50 assists) in 120 games. In his final season with the Gophers (2008-09), Stoa led the WCHA in scoring with 46 points in 36 games and earned First Team All-America and First Team All-WCHA honors. 

The Bloomington, Minn., native was selected 34th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and has appeared in 37 career NHL games with Colorado, registering seven points (four goals, three assists) and 20 penalty minutes.

Stoa, 26, has skated in 36 games with Hershey (AHL) this season, registering 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) and 39 penalty minutes. The forward is one of four former Gophers who have skated for the Bears this season along with Nate Schmidt, Ryan Potulny and Jeff Taffe. Schmidt has also spent time in the NHL with the Capitals this season. Stoa has registered 152 points (75 goals, 77 assists) and 244 penalty minutes in 259 career AHL games with Lake Erie and Hershey.

Stoa would be the 16th former Gopher to skate in the NHL this season joining Keith Ballard (Minnesota), Nick Bjugstad (Florida), Alex Goligoski (Dallas), Erik Haula (Minnesota), Erik Johnson (Colorado), Phil Kessel (Toronto), Nick Leddy (Chicago), Jordan Leopold (St. Louis), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh), Aaron Ness (New York Islanders), Kyle Okposo (New York Islanders), Nate Schmidt (Washington), Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver), Thomas Vanek (New York Islanders) and Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg). 

NHL: Schroeder Scores Two in Return

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In his first NHL game since suffering an injury on Oct. 19, Gophers alum Jordan Schroeder scored both of Vancouver's goals in a 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Monday night.

"Some hockey gods repaid me tonight," Schroeder said. Here's the forward's first goal of the season, followed by his second. 


It was the second two-goal game of Schroeder's young NHL career. His first came back on February 13, 2013 against the Flames - the same night he scored his first NHL goal.

Okposo Tallies Three Points
Much like Schroeder, Kyle Okposo factored into all of his team's goals on Monday in the Islanders's 6-3 loss to Boston. 

Down 3-2 in the second and with two assists already, Okposo tallied his 23rd goal of the year to move into a tie for the team goal lead (Okposo ranks second on the Islanders with 57 points). The Bruins would go on to score three-straight for the win. 

"We came out sluggish... and obviously weren't having a good first 10 minutes," Okposo said. "We controlled the second half of that first period and then the second period I thought we played well. At the end of the day we have to put it all in, bury some chances and clean up a few things in the d-zone."


Martin and Pens Continue Success
Despite recently coming back from injury, Penguins defenseman and future U.S. Olympian Paul Martin logged 21:52 of ice time in Monday's 3-0 win over Buffalo -- second most among Pittsburgh's skaters. The Penguins have won 15 of their last 16 games. 

Goligoski Adds Two Assists
Alex Goligoski tallied a pair of assists as well as four blocks, two hits and logged a game-high 24:39 of ice time in Dallas' 4-3 loss to Erik Johnson and the Colorado Avalanche. Goligoski now has seven assists in the last four games. 

NHL: Bjugstad, Wheeler Tally Winners

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We've been busy the last couple weeks, but so have our Gopher alums in the NHL including big nights from Nick Bjugstad and Blake Wheeler on Sunday. 

Bjugstad, who ranks third among Panthers and 10th among all NHL rookies this season with 11 goals, scored on this smooth shootout attempt for the eventual winner in Florida's 5-4 shootout win over Detroit:


Wheeler, meanwhile, notched the eventual game winner in regulation for Winnipeg's 3-1 rally over Nick Leddy and the Chicago Blackhawks and then the forward pocketed an empty net goal go boot. Wheeler leads the Jets with 21 goals this season while his 43 points are one off the team lead. 

"I think we loosened up in the second intermission," Wheeler said after the game. "We almost had to laugh at ourselves a bit the way the game had gone, especially the first period. They were all over us and our goalie was huge."