Phil Kessel and Toronton fell to 5-2 to Boston on Monday night as the Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the NHL first-round playoff series.
The former Gopher did notch his second goal of the playoffs in the contest, knocking home a loose puck just 47 seconds into the third period to make it a 4-2 game (Boston added an empty netter with just over a minute left).
Game four of the series is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. CT.
-Also in NHL playoff action, Jordan Leopold and St. Louis fell 4-3 to defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles to even the series at 2-2. The New York Rangers topped Washington 4-3 to cut the series to 2-1 in favor of the Caps. Former Gopher Stu Bickel was a scratch for the Rangers.
-Lots of Gophers in NHL action tonight. Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins take on Kyle Okposo, Aaron Ness and the New York Islanders tonight at 6 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 lead in the series. Nick Leddy and Chicago also hold a 2-1 lead over Minnesota and will hit the ice tonight at 8:30 CT on FOX Sports North and the NBC Sports Network. Jim O'Brien and Ottawa are up 2-1 on Montreal, and Keith Ballard and Vancouver are in a must-win game tonight against San Jose, down 3-0 in the series.
-Still some Gophers in AHL action -- Hershey (Nate Schmidt, Ryan Potulny, Jeff Taffe, Ryan Stoa, Mike Carman) takes on Providence in a deciding game five of an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series tomorrow night. Jake Hansen and Springfield have already advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after winning a best-of-five series with Manchester 3-1.
-Reminder: Minnesota has three alums in action today at the 2013 IIHF World Championships. Team USA (Nick Bjugstad, Erik Johnson) returns to action on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. CT against Russia on the NBC Sports Network. Thomas Vanek and Austria take on Latvia today.
We had more Gopher vs. Gopher NHL playoff action on Sunday as Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins topped Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders 5-4 in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Martin, who returned to the Penguins' lineup for the regular-season finale after an injury sidelined him for nearly a month, added a pair of assists in the win including this helper on Chris Kunitz's game-deciding, power-play goal at 8:44 of overtime.
Martin now has three assists in three playoff games this season.
Okposo, meanwhile, added a goal and an assist on Sunday after tallying the game winner on Friday for the Islanders. The former Gophers' short-handed goal on Sunday stopped a New York slide that saw Pittsburgh score four-straight goals after going down 2-0 early and started a rally that forced overtime.
IIHF World Championships Update
The U.S. Men's National Team added a 4-1 win over Latvia on Sunday in Helsinki with Erik Johnson picking up an assist. Team USA returns to action on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. CT against Russia. Tuesday's game airs live on the NBC Sports Network.
Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek and Austria fell 3-1 to France on Sunday with the former Gopher scoring Austria's only goal -- and his first of the tournament. Austria returns to action on Tuesday against Latvia.
Lots of action on Friday night (and early Saturday morning) as the NHL playoffs continued and the 2013 IIHF World Championships got underway over in Europe.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the night was Kyle Okposo's game-winning goal in the New York Islanders' 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to even their playoff series at 1-1. The odd goal capped a dramatic comeback for the Islanders that saw Okposo's squad rally from a 3-1 deficit after the first period (and also saw Okposo drop the gloves).
Gophers Face Off at World Championships
Erik Johnson scored twice and Nick Bjugstad added a pair of assists as the U.S. National Team rallied to beat Thomas Vanek and Austria 5-3 early Saturday morning in the 2013 IIHF World Championships opener.
Johnson's first goal of the game tied the contest at 2-2 with a primarily assist from Bjugstad in a "Gopher on Gopher connection," according to Johnson.
"To come in and contribute in the first game is definitely big," Johnson said after the game. "To get the first one out of the way with a win, especially coming down from a two-goal deficit early in the game, is big for our club. We can't get comfortable, just have to keep going and get better from here."
Team USA returns to action on Sunday vs. Latvia at 12:15 p.m. CT. NBC Sports Live Extra will stream the game live in the U.S. with NBC Sports Network televising the game on tape delay at 12:15 a.m. CT on May 6.
Former Gophers Erik Johnson, Nick Bjugstad and Thomas Vanek will open the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships on opposite ends of the ice on Saturday morning as Bjugstad and Johnson's U.S. team takes on Vanek and the Austrian team.
Just a reminder that NBC Sports Network will carry all of the U.S. team's action throughout the tournament including tomorrow's 4:15 a.m. opener. Here's a full broadcast schedule from USA Hockey.
Gopher hockey greats John Mayasich and Doug Woog will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Hall of Fame later this month in St. Paul.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. The public is invited to attend. For event tickets, contact the League office at 763-560-2262 or go to the League website -- MSHSL.org -- and click on the 2013 Hall of Fame Invitation link on the home page.
The League's Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo, was started in 1991. The 2013 class is the 20th group to be inducted. The inductees were chosen through a multi-level selection process that included League member schools and a committee of athletics, fine arts, and educational leaders. This year's class brings the Hall of Fame membership to 196.
His name will be forever linked to amateur hockey in Minnesota. John Mayasich is simply one of the greatest players ever to lace up skates in the state. At Eveleth High School he set his reputation in stone, playing on four state championship teams from 1948 to 1951, setting 10 individual state tournament records that remarkably still stand today.
He scored a record total of 46 points, 36 goals, and 7 hat tricks in four tournaments. In 1951 he scored the most goals in one tournament -- 15, including a record seven goals in one game. The Eveleth team's four consecutive championships also still stands as a tournament record. The team went an undefeated 69-0 over that four-year stretch.
Mayasich continued his stellar career at the University of Minnesota. From 1952 to 1955 the perennial All-American became the Gophers' all-time leading scorer with 144 goals and 154 assists in 111 games. His 298 points remain the most in school history.
Mayasich set scoring records and won many WCHA and NCAA tournament honors, including MVP and Player of the Year. He was a member of the 1956 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic hockey team and the 1960 gold medal team.
This Minnesota all-time hockey great has been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the National High School Hall of Fame and the "M" Club Hall of Fame. The Gophers retired Mayasich's No. 8 jersey, the only former Golden Gopher to be so honored.
Doug Wood, Coach/Athlete
Doug Woog was considered one of the premier amateur athletes of his era. At South St. Paul High School he earned nine varsity letters in football, baseball and hockey, but it was on the hockey rink that he dominated. The perennial all-state player led the Packers to four state hockey tournaments from 1959 to 1962. The team's best finishes came in 1961 and in 1962 when the Packers finished second and third, respectively. Woog's superior tournament play earned him a place on the all-tournament team three times.
Following high school, the star athlete attended the University of Minnesota to play under legendary coach John Mariucci. Woog led the Gophers in scoring in his junior year. As a senior he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and also received All-American honors.
Woog returned to South St. Paul High School in 1977 to coach the boys' hockey and soccer teams. The soccer teams he coached from 1977 to 1982 won four conference titles and played in four state tournaments, twice finishing as runners-up. He guided the Packers hockey teams to three state tournaments in his six seasons as head coach. The team finished third in 1978 and fourth in 1979. Woog's reputation landed him a stint as special assistant coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.
In 1985 he was named head hockey coach at the University of Minnesota, leading the Gophers to new heights. The team made 12 NCAA appearances in 14 seasons, six NCAA Final Four appearances, and Woog became the university's all-time winning coach with a 389-187-40 record. He resigned the post in 1999.
In 1989 Woog coached the U.S. Olympic Festival South Team to a gold medal. Woog is in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the South St. Paul High School Hall of Fame. He was awarded the American Hockey Coaches Association's John MacInnes Award for his work with youth and amateur hockey.
Former Gopher Nick Bjugstad tallied his first NHL goal on Saturday as the Florida Panthers topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 in Florida's season finale.
"That was pretty exciting for me," Bjugstad told the Associated Press. "I didn't really expect it. It's tough in the NHL getting shots, so I just put it on net, and it went in."
-Paul Martin had two assists for the Penguins in an 8-3 Pittsburgh win over Carolina on Saturday including James Neal's eventual game winner. Martin, who played in his first game in nearly a month (injury), earned his 200th career assist in the win as Pittsburgh finished the regular season with the Eastern Conference's best record.
-Phil Kessel netted Toronto's only goal in a 4-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday -- Kessel's power-play goal was his 20th of the year and put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 early in the contest.
-Both Stu Bickel (N.Y. Rangers) and Aaron Ness (N.Y. Islanders) have been recalled by their NHL teams ahead of the playoffs.
Gophers in the Playoffs
With the regular season ending this weekend, nine former Gophers will be heading to the playoffs this year with their respective NHL franchises. Here's the breakdown:
Pittsburgh (Paul Martin) vs. N. Y. Islanders (Ness, Kyle Okposo)
Today, the Buffalo Sabres tweeted that former Gopher Thomas Vanek will skate for Austria at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships next month in Europe. The tournament, which runs May 3-19 in Helsinski, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, now features three former Gophers as Nick Bjugstad and Erik Johnson will skate for the U.S. Men's National Team.
While the Sabres had a disappointing end to the 2012-13 campaign, Vanek thrived as the team's leader in points (41) and goals (20, 10th in the NHL this season) in the 38-game season. The forward also finished tied for first on the team in assists with 21.
Vanek said he'll be representing Austria at next month's IIHF World Championships.
USA Hockey has added former Gophers defenseman and current member of the Colorado Avalanche Erik Johnson to the 2013 U.S. Men's National Team roster on Friday evening.
One of three additions on the day, Johnson joins the original roster of 15 that includes former Gophers forward (and current Florida Panthers center) Nick Bjugstad. The U.S. Men's National Team will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men's World Championship May 3-19 in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. NBC Sports Network will air all Team USA games at the tournament with a full broadcast schedule coming out next week.
Johnson has played for six U.S. National Teams, highlighted by the 2010 U.S. Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team. He helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. He played on the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2007 IIHF Men's World Championship. Johnson skated in the 2006 and 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships, collecting a bronze medal in 2007. He helped Team USA win back-to-back gold medals at the 2005 and 2006 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championships.
The fifth-year NHL veteran was selected first overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In 328 career games, Johnson has tallied 131 points (27 goals, 104 assists).
The NHL regular season continues to wind down with only one
game remaining for the majority of teams.
Former Gopher Phil Kessel continued his offensive tear for
the playoff-bound Maple Leafs on Thursday in Toronto's 4-0 win over Nick
Bjugstad and the Florida Panthers. Kessel netted a pair of second period goals in the win to
bring his season total to 19 (his 51 points rank sixth in the NHL this season
with one regular-season game remaining).
Kessel has eight points in his last four games as the Leafs finish up the regular season on Saturday at home against Montreal.
Wheeler and the Jets Finish 20112-13 Campaign
Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets' chances of making the
playoffs were dashed even before the team's 4-2 loss to Montreal on Thursday
night as both Ottawa and the New York Rangers locked up the Eastern Conference's
final playoff slots with overtime wins.
The only team in the NHL to have concluded its shortened
48-game schedule so far, the Jets went 6-1-1 to finish the season and finished
ninth in the East.
Wheeler gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead in the second period with
his 19th goal of the season to finish the season with 41 total points (Wheeler
currently ranks 14th in NHL goals this season and 25th in points).
USA Hockey announced the first 15 players of the 2013 U.S Men's National Team on Thursday including former Gophers forward and current center for the Florida Panthers Nick Bjugstad.
The U.S. National Team will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men's World Championship May 3-19 in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. NBC Sports Network will air all Team USA games at the tournament with a full broadcast schedule coming out next week.
Florida's first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bjugstad signed with the Panthers following the 2012-13 college season and has played in nine professional contests with the NHL organization.
No Gopher tallied more goals over the last three seasons than Bjugstad with 54 while the junior tallied 98 total points in 109 career games. In Bjugstad's final two seasons with the program, the Gophers earned two-straight MacNaughton cups as Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season champions and two NCAA tournament berths including the team's run to the Frozen Four in 2011-12.
After a 20-point freshman campaign in 2010-11, Bjugstad skated to his best season with the Gophers in 2011-12, earning Second Team All-America and All-WCHA First Team honors. The Blaine, Minn., native posted a career-high 42 points, 25 goals and 17 assists as a sophomore while the Gophers captured the team's first MacNaughton Cup since 2006-07 and returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the 20th time in program history and the first time since 2005.
Bjugstad returned to the Gophers as a junior in 2012-13 and served as an alternate captain for the squad while also earning All-WCHA Third Team accolades. The junior led Minnesota and finished tied for eighth in the nation with 21 goals and recorded 36 points in his final season with the Maroon and Gold. Eleven of his goals came on the power play - ranking Bjugstad third in the nation - while Minnesota was the nation's best team on the advantage this season. The Gophers, who added a second-straight MacNaughton Cup in 2012-13, also led the nation in scoring offense during Bjugstad's final two seasons with the program.
Bjugstad has previous experience with USA Hockey, skating with the U.S. National Junior Team in 2011-12.