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. 


NHL: Bjugstad Tallies Game Winner for Florida

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Former Gopher Nick Bjugstad tallied the game winner in Florida's 2-1 win over Montreal on Sunday night, notching his sixth goal and 13th point of the season with the tally. 


Bjugstad and the Panthers are on a three-game winning streak and face off against Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. 

Wheeler Nets Two on Saturday

Former Gopher Blake Wheeler had two very Blake Wheeler-esque goals for Winnipeg on Saturday in a 6-4 loss to Alex Goligoski and the Dallas Stars. We'll just cut to the chase and show you both...


Wheeler now has four goals in the last two games for Winnipeg. 

Noteworthy 
*Nate Schmidt was sent to the Hershey Bears (AHL) by the Washington Capitals on Monday. In 28 games with the Capitals this season, Schmidt had six points (two goals, four assists). 

*After a short stint with the Iowa Wild (AHL), Erik Haula was re-called by the Minnesota Wild over the weekend. 

Don Lucia Radio Show Airs Tonight

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Go Gophers!Adam Wilcox
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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. 

With Lucia coaching the U.S. Junior National Team this month as it prepares for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships next month in Sweden, tonight's show will feature special guest Adam Wilcox. Listen to the Gophers' netminder, along with co-hosts Wally Shaver and Jeff Dubar, from 6:00-6:30 p.m. tonight. 

This week's show will look back at the first half of the season with Minnesota posting a 12-2-2 overall record over the first three months of play. We'll also look ahead to a busy January that will see the Gophers host the Mariucci Classic, then head to Penn State for the first time in program history before hosting the Hockey City Classic on Jan. 17 at TCF Bank Stadium and the inaugural North Star College Cup the following weekend. 

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

NHL: Wheeler Nets Two in Loss

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After tallying a pair of goals in the effort, former Gopher Blake Wheeler was named the No. 2 Star last night in Winnipeg's 4-3 shootout loss to Erik Johnson and the Colorado Avalanche. 

Wheeler's first tally of the night didn't take long -- 24 seconds to be exact -- as the Jets went up 1-0 on home ice. 


Wheeler added his ninth goal of the season later in the game during a third period power play. The Jets forward now has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 33 games this season. 


Okposo Nets 10th of the Year: 

We certainly appreciate the double shout out during last night's Islanders/Coyotes broadcast, but it was even better to see Kyle Okposo score his 10th goal of the season soon after. 


Through 33 games this season, Okposo has 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) while the forward may challenge for his best season to date (52 points in 80 games during the 2009-10 season). 

Noteworthy: 

*Gopher alums Thomas Vanek and Aaron Ness added assists on John Tavares' second period goal.

*Alex Goligoski had a team-high 26:34 of ice time in Dallas' 3-1 loss at Nashville. 

*Phil Kessel added an assist in Toronto's 6-3 loss to St. Louis. 

*Ben Gordon had 3-2--5 in a 6-4 win for Tulsa (CHL) over Brampton (via Let's Play Hockey). 

*Erik Haula had 2-1--3 in a 4-2 win for Iowa (AHL) over Abbotsford. 





NHL: Big Goals for the Gophers


This slick goal from former Gopher and current Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad was just one of a handful of big goals by Minnesota alums last night in NHL action. 

    

Bjugstad's late third period tally tied the game at 2-2 while the Panthers would go on to beat Detroit 3-2 in a shootout. The former first-round draft pick has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) for Florida this season. 

Much like Bjugstad and the Panthers, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek and Aaron Ness of the New York Islanders (Dinkytown East as we like to call the team) scored late in the third and then topped San Jose 3-2 in a shootout.

Okposo, who has 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 32 games this season, assisted on Vanek's goal at 0:51 of the third period and then tallied the game-tying goal with less than two minutes left with this extra-attacker goal off the draw.  


Both Vanek and Okposo would score in the shootout with Okposo sealing the win for the Islanders. 


While we're at it, here's Vanek's regulation goal from less than a minute into the third period -- the forward now has 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) this season: 

USA: Stauber Named to U.S. Women's Olympic Team Staff

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Robb Stauber
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Former Gopher All-American and 1988 Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber has been named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Team coaching staff , USA Hockey announced tonight. Stauber and the U.S. squad will compete at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, set for Feb. 7-23, 2014. 

Stauber, who will serve as goaltending coach and scout, has been involved with the U.S. Women's National team since 2009, focusing on coaching and development of its goaltenders. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia will mark Stauber's first appearance at the Olympics as an assistant coach for the U.S. 

The former netminder has 10 years of professional hockey experience, including four seasons in the National Hockey League with the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres. The Duluth, Minn., native also spent time in the IHL and AHL. 

At the University of Minnesota, he was the first goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Award (1988). He was also the recipient that year of the WCHA Player of the Year award and was named All-WCHA First Team and All-America First Team. Additionally, Stauber was recognized as WCHA Goaltender of the Year in 1988 and 1989. Stauber also represented the U.S. at the 1987 IIHF World Junior Championship and 1989 IIHF Men's World Championship. 

In addition to his playing career at the University of Minnesota, Stauber served as the goalie coach for the University of Minnesota's men's team from 1998-2008, helping the program win back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003.

With tonight's news, Gopher Hockey will now have representatives on both the U.S. Olympic Men's and Women's Teams (Gophers All-American and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant coach for the men's team with seven former Gophers set to attend training camp). Minnesota will also have representatives on the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team with Don Lucia serving as head coach and Brady Skjei and Hudson Fasching set to attend training camp before competing at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014. 

NHL: Schmidt Nets First NHL Goal, Then Another

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In case you missed it, former Gopher All-American Nate Schmidt scored his first NHL goal on Saturday night in a 5-2 win for Washington over Nashville, and then the Capitals defenseman added his second lamp lighter on Sunday as Washington topped the New York Rangers 4-1. 

Here's Schmidt's first NHL goal: 


From the Washington post: 

"The first thing anyone notices about Schmidt is that he's always smiling. There's yet to be a practice, game or any other team activity where he hasn't had a grin on his face and his teammates are glad to see the rookie with a persistently sunny outlook get rewarded."

Schmidt's rise to the NHL is truly an impressive story. An undrafted defenseman, Schmidt tallied just one assist and played in just 13 games as a freshman at Minnesota in 2010-11 before developing into one of the program's leaders in his final two years with the Gophers (Schmidt played in every game of his sophomore and junior seasons). 

In 2011-12, Schmidt earned Second Team All-WCHA with 41 points in 43 games. His 38 assists that year were the most among NCAA defensemen while Schmidt also added three goals as the Gophers returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the 20th time in program history and the first time since 2005. Perhaps his most memorable college goal helped the Gophers clinch  the 2012 MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions in a 2-1 win over Wisconsin in the season finale. 


In his final year with the program -- 2012-13 -- Schmidt earned Second Team All-America honors to join an elite group of Gopher defensemen under head coach Don Lucia and associate head coach Mike Guentzel that includes fellow NHL blue-liners Alex Goligoski, Paul Martin, Jordan Leopold (2002 Hobey Baker Award winner) and Keith Ballard. Schmidt tallied a career-best nine goals as a junior and ended the year with 32 points and 23 assists as the Gophers repeated as conference champions and went on to the program's 34th NCAA tournament. 

Schmidt signed an entry-level deal with Washington soon after last year's NCAA tournament and played the final eight regular-season games with the team's AHL affiliate -- the Hershey Bears -- registering four points (one goal, three assists). Schmidt added two assists in five AHL playoff games as well. 

The 2013-14 season saw Schmidt play in one game with the Bears (he registered a goal in the game) before being called up for his NHL debut with the Capitals. In 26 games this season, Schmidt has six points (two goals, four assists). Here's Schmidt's goal from Sunday: 


Schmidt is one of 15 former Gophers who have played in the NHL this season along with 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), Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver), Thomas Vanek (New York Islanders) and Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg).