The Gophers topped Mercyhurst, 6-0, tonight
First Victory in the
The Gophers won their season opener for the fourth-straight
year. Their last loss on opening night came in 2009 to North Dakota. Tonight,
the Gophers blew the game open with three goals in the second after having just
a 1-0 lead after one period. The victory also continued a trend of lopsided
victories to start the season. Two years ago, the Gophers bested Sacred Heart
by a score of 9-0 and last season Michigan State was on the short end of a 5-1
Rau Steps UP
Kyle Rau scored the Gophers first goal of the season. It was
a power-play marker 5:25 into the period. It was a typical-Rau goal. He was
stationed at the side of the net and found himself with just enough room to
shovel the puck home after it trickled to him. Kyle will be asked to shoulder a
lot of the scoring load this season after the departures of talented players
like Bjugstad, Haula, and Budish. Travis Boyd picked up a
helper on the tally. He is hoping to spark his offensive output this year, so
that should be a good confidence booster for him.
The Rau goal from Travis Boyd kicked off a great night for
Minnesota's junior class. Rau later set up a goal for fellow classmate Sam
Warning. Seth Ambroz also tallied an unassisted goal to add to the party. He threw the puck between his legs from below the goal line and it banked off of a Laker defender and into the net. The
coaching staff said this week that they are hoping to see returning players
elevate their games. The junior class certainly did that tonight. As mentioned
above, with the loss of some talented players, the Gophers need someone to pick
up the scoring slack.
Minnesota dressed five fresh faces in the lineup tonight.
They wasted little time making an impact. Justin Kloos was the first rookie to
score, notching his goal on the power play during the second period. Fellow
freshman Michael Brodzinski capped the scoring for the night with a point shot
late in the third period. Hudson Fasching also showed moments of glory. He
set up Mike Reilly for a goal, registering an assist, and displayed blazing
speed on an end-to-end rush before passing to Kyle Rau.
The Gophers will battle New Hampshire tomorrow night in the
Ice Breaker Championship Game. New Hampshire downed Clarkson, , in Friday's
other semifinal. The Gophers and Wildcats have a long history against each
other, dating back to 1979. Many Gopher fans remember the 2003 NCAA
Championship Game when Minnesota topped New Hampshire, 5-1. Overall, Minnesota
owns a 13-2-2 record against the Wildcats. The puck drops tomorrow evening at 7
The 2013-14 Gopher hockey season commences this weekend as
Minnesota hosts the 2013 Ice Breaker at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers will
welcome Mercyhurst, New Hampshire, and Clarkson to the Twin Cities for the
two-day tournament. Wednesday afternoon coach Don Lucia and members of the team
met with the local media to discuss the opening weekend.
The Gophers will open with Mercyhurst on Friday night. The
Lakers return a veteran group that includes three players who registered over
30 points last season. "They like to get up and down the rink. They are an
older team like most of the teams from (Atlantic Hockey) are. It will be a real
good challenge for our young guys," Lucia said.
Speaking of the young guys, the freshman got their first
taste of collegiate play last weekend against Lethbridge. Overall, coach Lucia
liked what he saw. "(The freshmen) did a good job. I was happy, I think some
returning players improved from where they were a year ago and that is a real
The influx of talented freshmen gives the coaching staff
plenty of options for setting the lineup. "When I look at our team, I don't see
a 25-goal scorer. However, I do see a lot of guys who have the potential to put
the puck in the net," Lucia said. "We are balanced. I think we are a little
deeper up front then we were a year ago. I think we can have four pretty
balanced lines." While Lucia has some lines in mind, there is opportunity for
players to take on large roles this season.
The players are aware that they cannot take any team lightly
as the games begin to count this weekend. "(Mercyhurst) was picked to win their
league. You definitely can't look past them. They are a good team. There a
three solid teams coming in this weekend, so it will be fun to see where we are
at," forward Seth Ambroz said.
With the season just 48 hours away there was a general
feeling of excitement in the locker room . "We have been waiting for a long
time. We have been working out all summer while taking classes. It is nice it
is only two days away," defenseman Brady Skjei said.
Minnesota will first hit the ice at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday
night against Mercyhurst. Earlier on Friday, New Hampshire will square off with
Clarkson. The two winners will battle for the championship Saturday evening at
7:00 p.m., with the losers meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Both Gopher games
can be heard on 1500 ESPN. The FOX Sports North network will broadcast both Gopher games this weekend.
-Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh
If you missed former Gopher Paul Martin's first goal of the year last night, check it out below. The Pittsburgh defenseman went down to one knee to put home the loose puck and give the Penguins a 2-0 lead in route to a 5-2 win over Carolina. Martin, who led the team with 24:34 of ice time last night, now has two points on the year.
Also of note: Thomas Vanek assists on both of Buffalo's goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay last night, Kyle Okposo assisted on the game-winning goal in the Islanders' 6-1 win over Phoenix.
Phil Kessel turned 26 yesterday -- a day after signing a $64 million, eight-year contract extension to stay with Toronto until 2021-22. How did the former Gopher celebrate? By going out Wednesday night and erasing a first period 1-0 lead for the Philadelphia Flyers as the Maple Leafs scored three-straight goals in route to a 3-1 win -- moving Toronto to 2-0-0 early in the 2013-14 NHL season.
Kessel now has two points in two games for the Maple Leafs after assisting on a goal in Toronto's 4-3 win over Montreal to open the season on Tuesday.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are about to embark on their
maiden voyage into Big Ten hockey. The new season brings with it many changes.
In addition to competing in the new conference, the Gophers welcome eight fresh
faces to the squad to replace the departure of six elite talents, who are all
playing professional hockey this year.
Chances for players to assume largeer roles exist up and
done the line up as the season begins.
"Guys are going to be given an
opportunity, whether it is playing the first line or the fourth line, and it is
what (the players) do with it," head coach Don Lucia said. "We are going to
have to do a lot of moving guys around during the early part of the season to figure
out what the best combinations are going to be."
The freshmen class may be inexperienced at the collegiate
level, but they are not short on talent and they will be expected to contribute
"We are going to have to have some of (the freshman) score for us
if we are going to have a successful year," Lucia said. Veteran players will be
counted upon to lead the way and show the younger Gophers what is expected from
One of those eight new skaters is redshirt freshman Connor
Reilly. He returns to the ice this season after missing over a season of hockey
while going through two major knee surgeries. Lucia knows it will take Reilly time to get back to where he was before the injury, but there are encouraging
signs, "Week by week he will make tremendous strides. We have seen that already
in practice. He has his good stick skills, his hockey sense, and bite to his
Connor will join his brothers Ryan and Mike in a Gophers
sweater this season and Mike can't wait to see it.
"We have been playing our
whole lives together, so getting that feeling back is pretty special."
Despite all the changes among the skaters, sophomore
goaltender Adam Wilcox remains the anchor of the team. Lucia anticipates more
of the same from Wilcox this season.
"What I liked about his game last year was
he made the timely save. When the game was tied, he made the big save to help
us win the game and when we were ahead by a goal he would preserve it. He was
For his part, Wilcox is excited to have a year of college
hockey under his belt. "Last year, I did not know what to expect coming in
after two years of juniors. Obviously, college is a whole different ball game.
Now, I know what to expect." He comes into this season on the Big Ten's
preseason watch list.
The Gophers will host the University of Lethbridge in an
exhibition game this Saturday at 7 p.m. before they open up their regular
season slate by hosting the Ice Breaker the following weekend. Fans can expect
to see plenty of the young players against Lethbridge.
-Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh
The NHL season officially started on Tuesday night with a trio of games, and there are plenty of Gophers starting the 2013-14 season in the NHL -- 12 of them to be exact on active rosters as of the first day of the season.
Here's the full list of Gophers starting the season in the NHL:
Keith Ballard - Minnesota Wild
Erik Johnson - Colorado Avalanche
Nick Bjugstad - Florida Panthers
Blake Wheeler - Winnipeg Jets
Alex Goligoski - Dallas Stars
Thomas Vanek - Buffalo Sabres
Kyle Okposo - New York Islanders
Paul Martin - Pittsburgh Penguins
Nick Leddy - Chicago Blackhawks
Jordan Leopold - St. Louis Blues
Phil Kessel - Toronto Maple Leafs
Jordan Schroeder - Vancouver Canucks
Kessel Signs New Deal, Makes Mark in Opener
On Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced former Gopher Phil Kessel signed an eight-year contact extension that will commence at the start of the 2014-15 season.
How did Kessel celebrate? By tacking on the primary assist for the first goal of the 2013-14 NHL season...that's how.
"Phil Kessel is one of the premier wingers and elite goal scorers in the National Hockey League today," said David Nonis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "He wanted to be a Maple Leaf long term and we're very pleased that Phil will be a part of our core group of players in Toronto until the 2021-22 season."
Kessel, 25, played 48 games for the Maple Leafs in 2012-13, leading the team in goals (20), assists (32), points (52), powerplay goals (5), game-winning goals (4) and shots (161). He ranked seventh in NHL points (tie) and ninth in shots. The native of Madison, Wisconsin also played seven playoff games for Toronto, posting team-highs in goals (4), powerplay goals (tie-1) and game-winning goals (2).
Over the last two seasons, Kessel has accumulated 134 points (57 goals, 77 assists) in 130 games. Only Steve Stamkos (154), Evgeni Malkin (142) and Claude Giroux (141) have more points in that stretch. Only three players have more goals than Kessel's 89 over the last three seasons: Stamkos (134), Corey Perry (102) and Alex Ovechkin (102).
In 504 career NHL games with Boston (2006-07 to 2008-09) and Toronto (2009-10 to present), Kessel has collected 379 points (185 goals, 194 assists) with 139 penalty minutes. The 6-0, 202-pound right-winger has reached the 30-goal plateau four times, posting a career-high 37 goals in 2011-12. Kessel was originally selected by the Bruins in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2006 Entry Draft.
Vanek Named Sabres Captain
Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston officially named former Gopher Thomas Vanek as one of two team captains on Tuesday. Vanek will represent the Sabres as captain for home games.
"Obviously it means a lot to be representing this great organization with Steve (Ott) and Christian (Ehrhoff)," Vanek told BuffaloSabres.com. "It's an honor, but as I've told the guys, this letter doesn't mean much if we don't do anything as a group. Again it's nice, but it's not where we want to be."
The former Gopher was drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in 2003 and ranks sixth all-time in goals for the franchise and 10th all-time in points.
"Thomas has been a big part of this organization for a long time. He knows how it ticks," Rolston said. "He wants to have a great year and he also has been really good in camp and in helping our young guys - whether it's on the bench or in the room - develop. That was very important in that decision."
Vanek and the Sabres open the season on Wednesday on the road against the Detroit Red Wings
A week after being picked fifth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine College Hockey Preseason Poll, the University of Minnesota men's hockey program added another fifth-place preseason ranking today in the USCHO.com Division I Men's Preseason Poll.
The Gophers totaled 660 total points in the preseason poll including one first-place vote. UMass-Lowell, Miami, Wisconsin and Boston College round out the top five in first through fourth, respectively.
Coming off the program's 34th NCAA tournament appearance in 2012-13 as well as Minnesota's second-straight WCHA MacNaughton Cup win (fourth in the last eight years), the Gophers embark on the team's first campaign in the new Big Ten Conference in 2013-14. Minnesota hosts an exhibition game against Lethbridge on Oct. 5 at Mariucci Arena before kicking off the regular season on Oct. 11-12 with the Ice Breaker Tournament on home ice.
Earlier today, Minnesota sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox was listed by USCHO.com as one of 10 goalies to watch for the 2013-14. The South St. Paul, Minn., native was named to the Big Ten Conference's Preseason Players to Watch list earlier this month after one of the best rookie seasons in Gopher Hockey history.
In 2012-13, Wilcox set a new single-season program record with a 1.88 GAA and also tied Kellen Briggs for the Minnesota rookie wins record. As a freshman, the netminder was named Third Team All-Big Ten and helped Minnesota to a share of its second-straight WCHA MacNaughton Cup (fourth in eight years) as well as the program's 34th NCAA tournament appearance. Wilcox ranked second in the nation in wins and third in the NCAA in minutes played at 2,331.
Heading into his sophomore season, Wilcox stands poised to be the top goaltender in the fledgling Big Ten. In 39 games as a freshman, Wilcox posted 25 wins, three shutouts and a 1.88 goals against average.
He also posted winning streaks of six and five games over the course of the season. The five-game streak carried into the WCHA playoffs.
Wilcox has been named as a player to watch by Big Ten coaches.
"Obviously, he's a good goaltender," one opposing coach said. "Wilcox just had a calming effect on their team. I think he's very competitive, but at the same time, very calm."
Read the whole article on USCHO.com. Minnesota hosts Lethbridge at 7 p.m. this Saturday in exhibition action before opening the 2013-14 regular season the following weekend with the Ice Breaker Tournament.
Full USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine College Hockey Poll
Minnesota will enter the 2013-14 season -- the program's first in the Big Ten Conference -- ranked fifth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine College Hockey Poll, according to a release this afternoon from USA Hockey
Coming off the program's 34th NCAA tournament appearance last season, the Gophers garnered 347 points in the preseason poll, placing Minnesota second among Big Ten school's behind only Wisconsin (third, 364 points). UMass-Lowell ranks first in the nation, according to today's poll, with 484 points followed by Miami in second at 444. Boston College rounds out the top five in fourth at 359 points.
The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey.
Minnesota hosts an exhibition game against Lethbridge on Oct. 5 at Mariucci Arena before kicking off the regular season on Oct. 11-12 with the Ice Breaker Tournament on home ice.
Head coach Don Lucia, Nate Condon and Kyle Rau represented the Minnesota men's hockey program at the first-ever B1G Hockey Media Day on Thursday morning at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
"It's exciting to be here," Lucia said, kicking off the event with an early morning press conference. "It almost seems like in many ways, it's a new job. It's so fresh this year with entering a new conference, the Big Ten, even though we've played many of the teams over the years, this is the first time we'll be playing each of the Big Ten members four times. I think it's going to be an exciting year, not only for us, but certainly our fans."
The Gopher trio arrived early on Thursday morning, sitting down for 1-on-1 interviews with the media as well as spots with television partners ESPN, Big Ten Network and FOX Sports North. To open the day, the Big Ten Conference announced its preseason coaches poll and preseason players to watch list with Kyle Rau being the conference's only unanimous player to watch. The Gophers were selected to finish second in the inaugural season of Big Ten hockey behind Wisconsin with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State filling out the rankings. Gophers sophomores Mike Reilly and Adam Wilcox were also featured as players to watch this season.
Rau even sat down with GopherSports' Devin Pacheco for a social media Q&A session with fans on Twitter. Here are a few of the top questions/answers for the Gopher captain:
Minnesota opens the 2013-14 season with an exhibition contest on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. CT against Lethbridge. The Gophers kick off the regular-season on Oct. 11-12 with the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena.