Gophers Set for 23rd Mariucci Classic
Jan. 2, 2014
After nearly a month off, the No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey program returns to action this weekend with the 23rd annual Mariucci Classic. No. 2 Ferris State, Colgate and RPI will join the Gophers for four games this weekend at Mariucci Arena. The action kicks off on Friday at 4 p.m. CT with Ferris State and RPI facing off followed by Minnesota and Colgate at 7 p.m. (FOX Sports North, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN). Saturday's contests will see Colgate face off against either RPI or Ferris State at 4 p.m. followed by Minnesota against either RPI or Ferris State at 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN). Saturday's matchups depend on Friday's results. Both non-Gopher games this weekend will be streamed on Gophersports.com through Gopher All-Access.
Now in its 23rd year of existence, the Mariucci Classic has served as the University of Minnesota and Mariucci Arena's annual holiday tournament since the 1991-92 season. The Gophers have 13 Mariucci Classic titles including nine straight from 1999-2006 as well as last year's event title.
This Year's Field
Joining the Gophers in this year's Mariucci Classic will be No. 2 Ferris State (14-2-2, 10-0-2 WCHA), Colgate (7-9-2, 5-3-1 ECAC) and RPI (RV, 8-6-4, 3-3-3 ECAC) -- making this year's field one of the most intriguing in tournament history. While Colgate and RPI are both making their first appearances at the Mariucci Classic, Ferris State will be making its fifth appearance at the event including a Mariucci Classic title in 1992-93 -- the tournament's second year of existence. Minnesota has faced off against Ferris State twice in the tournament, winning 5-2 in the tournament championship in 2006-07 and tying 2-2 in overtime in the third-place game during the 2010-11 season.
No active Gopher has as many career points as junior captain Kyle Rau with the forward needing one more point to reach 100 for his career (36-63--99 in 96 career games). Rau would be the 80th Gopher to hit 100 career points and the first since Erik Haula did so in 2012-13. Minnesota is 53-8-3 all-time when Rau tallies a point.
Gophers Named to Olympic Squads
The University of Minnesota will be well represented at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Former Gophers Phil Kessel, Paul Martin and Blake Wheeler were named to the U.S. National Team while current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant coach on the U.S. team. Additionally, former Gopher and Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber will serve as goalie coach for the U.S. women's squad, which also featured current and Gopher alums Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel, Gigi Marvin, Anne Schleper and Lee Stecklein. Minnesota's eight combined U.S. Olympic players are tied with Wisconsin for the most among any college while the Gophers three men's players are second most nationally behind Wisconsin's four.
Ambroz Steps Up
Junior forward Seth Ambroz has tallied five goals in the last four games to lead all Big Ten skaters in scoring for conference games. Through 16 games this season, Ambroz has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) and needs just one goal, two assists and three points to tie his career bests from last year (9-7--16).
Last Year's Mariucci Classic
Minnesota returns as the defending Mariucci Classic champion after downing Air Force 4-0 in last year's semifinal and Boston College 8-1 in the championship game. The title snapped a three-year title drought for the Gophers while Adam Wilcox (tournament MVP), Kyle Rau, and Jake Parenteau return from last year's Mariucci Classic All-Tournament Team. Parenteau is expected to miss this weekend's action with a lower-body injury.
Minnesota Against the Field
The Gophers boast an 18-3-1 all-time combined record against Ferris State (3-1-1), Colgate (6-0-0) and RPI (9-2-0). Minnesota's current roster has only three total games of experience against the field (Minnesota and Ferris State skated to a 2-2 overtime tie in the consolation game of the 2010-11 Mariucci Classic with Tom Serratore, Justin Holl and Nate Condon on roster). The Gophers have not faced RPI since 2007 and have not taken on Colgate since 2001. Among the most notable games against this year's field, the Gophers topped Ferris State 7-4 in the 2003 NCAA West Regional Finals at Mariucci Arena in route to the teams' second-straight NCAA title.
Wilcox Against the Best
In 54 career games played, Adam Wilcox has posted a 36-10-7 overall record. Out of those games, 27 have been played against nationally ranked opponents with the sophomore netminder recording an 16-8-3 record against ranked teams. A Third Team All-WCHA selection last year, Wilcox's .922 career save percentage and 1.96 goals against average are both the best figures in program history. Wilcox needs one more shutout to tie Robb Stauber, Murray McLachlan and Tom Newman for seventh all-time at Minnesota with five shutouts.
A New Era of Gopher Hockey
The 93rd season of Gopher Hockey brings a new era to the program as Minnesota will compete in the new Big Ten Conference for the 2013-14 season. Six conference teams are set for the first campaign in the Big Ten with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State joining the Gophers. Prior to the 2013-14 season, the Gophers were members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and helped found the conference in 1951.
Gophers Close Out World Junior Championships
The Gophers sent a trio of representatives to the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden with Hudson Fasching and Brady Skjei on roster and Don Lucia serving as head coach. The U.S. bowed out of competition on Thursday morning with a 5-3 loss to Russia in the quarterfinals. In five tournament games, Fasching tallied four points (two goals, two assists) while Skjei had one assist and finished the tournament as a +5 --- the second highest rating on the U.S. squad.
It All Adds Up
The Gophers own three of the nation's top 10 figures for plus/minus this season as well as the five best figures in the Big Ten Conference. Sam Warning and Hudson Fasching are tied for fifth nationally at +16 while Kyle Rau sits tied for eighth at +15. Mike Reilly follows at +14 in a tie for 11th while Jake Parenteau is tied for 11th at +13. In the Big Ten, the Gophers actually boast 12 of the top 19 plus/minus ratings.
Saturday Potential Matchup
If Minnesota and Ferris State are able to win on Friday, Saturday's championship game would set up a meeting between the top ranked teams in the nation. The Gophers are the No. 1 team in the nation right now while Ferris State sits No. 2. Ferris State also ranks first in the nation in wins (14) and winning percentage (.816) while Minnesota ranks second in winning percentage (.812) and tied for fifth in wins (12).
Among the Big Ten
The Gophers lead the conference in wins (12), winning percentage (.812), goals against (34), goals scored against per game (2.12), shots on goal (589) and shots on goal against (452). Minnesota is also tied for the Big Ten lead in goals scored (63) and goals scored per game (3.94) with Ohio State.