Gophers Get Back to Big Ten Action
Jan. 30, 2014
After closing out the nonconference portion of the regular season last weekend with the inaugural North Star College Cup, the top-ranked Minnesota hockey program returns to Big Ten Conference action this weekend as Michigan State visits Mariucci Arena for the first time as league rivals. Friday's series opener is set for 8:04 p.m. CT (Big Ten Network, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN) while Saturday's series finale is set for 7:10 p.m. (FOX Sports North PLUS, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN).
Wilcox Earns Big Ten Praise
Goalie Adam Wilcox earned his second Big Ten weekly honor of the season with Third Star accolades after setting a new career high with 38 saves against SCSU on Friday (and adding his third career assist) and then matching the save total in Saturday's championship game. Wilcox (17-2-4) leads the Big Ten and is tied for second nationally with 17 wins this season.
Nate Condon has skated in 141 consecutive games for Minnesota entering the weekend and is the program's most veteran player at 142 games (36-58--94). Condon has only missed one game in his four years with the program -- Oct. 9, 2010 against UMass (the second game of his freshman season). Condon, who tallied goals in each of the last two games and has 3-3--6 in the last five games, needs just six points to reach the 100-career point milestone.
Home Sweet Home
The 2013-14 season marks the 20th campaign in which the Gophers have called Mariucci Arena home. The facility was officially opened on Aug. 21, 1993 with an alumni game. Since opening Mariucci Arena, Minnesota is 285-11-44. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Gophers are 43-10-5 on home ice including a 10-1-2 mark this year (Minnesota's outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium was technically scored as a home game, but does not factor into this record).
The Rest of the Way
Minnesota closed out the 2013-14 nonconference season with an 11-2-3 record -- the fourth best winning percentage among all NCAA teams at .781 (first among Big Ten teams) with 11 nonconference wins tied for first nationally with Notre Dame. The Gophers now play 12-straight Big Ten games to close out the rest of the season, starting this weekend at home against Michigan State. Minnesota then travels to Wisconsin (Feb. 6-7), hosts Michigan (Feb. 14-15) and Penn State (Feb. 28-Mar. 1) and closes out the regular season at Ohio State (Mar. 7-8) and Michigan (Mar. 14-15). Minnesota then competes at the inaugural Big Ten Tournament at Xcel Energy Center (Mar. 20-22) before hosting the the NCAA West Regional at the X (Mar. 29-30).
Last Time Out -- NSCC
The top-ranked Gophers earned the inaugural North Star College Cup last weekend in a battle for in-state bragging rights between four of Minnesota's five Division I hockey programs. The Golden Gophers topped No. 5 St. Cloud State on Friday by a score of 4-1 before besting Minnesota Duluth in the championship game via shootout (2-0 shootout win for Minnesota -- the first time this season Minnesota has won a shootout in four tries) after officially recording the game as a 4-4 overtime tie.
Keeping the Streak Alive
Minnesota is unbeaten in its last 12 games, dating back to Nov. 24, 2013 in a 2-6 loss to Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers are 9-0-3 during that stretch (including wins six of the last seven games) while the unbeaten streak is the longest active streak in the nation. It is the longest unbeaten streak in the Minnesota record book since the team went 22 games without a loss during the 2006-07 season (Oct. 13-Jan.7) -- the Gophers were 19-0-3 during that stretch.
Reilly Paces Big Ten Defensemen
Sophomore Mike Reilly has already bested his freshman point totals just 24 games into the 2013-14 season with eight goals, 12 assists and 20 points. Reilly, who ranks tied for fifth among NCAA defensemen in points and tied for fourth in goals, leads all Big Ten defensemen in both categories. The sophomore also has six assists in the last three games (two assists in each game).
Boyd Approaches 100 Games
Junior Travis Boyd will likely play in his 100th career game on Friday night with the forward banking 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in his Gophers career. Boyd's eight goals and 18 points this season are both career highs.
Ambroz Makes It Easy
Junior Seth Ambroz scored his fourth empty-net goal of the season in Friday's win over St. Cloud State --moving the forward into a tie for first nationally with Cole Gunner of Air Force. Ambroz's 11 goals and 17 points this season are both career highs for the junior.
Turning on the Advantage
The Gophers have steadily improved the team's power play over the last several weeks with the program scoring at least one power-play goal in 12 of the last 14 games. Even more impressive, the Gophers have gone 6-for-12 while on the advantage over the last three games.
More on the Streak (Penalty Kill)
Since Minnesota's last loss in November, the Gophers have only allowed three power-play goals by opponents in 36 attempts (.917 kill rate). Only Boston College's penalty kill has been more successful in that span.
Defense Lights It Up
Minnesota's defensive group ranks second nationally in goals with 22 this season -- only one behind Denver for the national lead. The Gophers are also fifth nationally with 63 points and lead the Big Ten in both categories.
The newest crop of Gophers have posted 34 goals this season -- only two behind Boston College for the most among all NCAA freshmen classes. Minnesota's 86 points from the freshmen class are also third most in the nation behind Northeastern (98) and Boston College (94).
Lucia Earns 350th Win at Minnesota
Don Lucia earned his 350th win as head coach of the Gophers in Minnesota's 5-4 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 9, 2013.Lucia owns a 362-184-63 record in 15 seasons at Minnesota and boasts an overall coaching record of 641-339-92 Only Doug Woog (1985-99) has more wins at Minnesota with 390.
No player on Minnesota's roster has been more of a lightning rod for the team's success that junior captain Kyle Rau. The team is 56-8-5 all-time when the forward tallies a point including an incredible 35-3-4 mark since the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
Wilcox Moves Up the Record Book
Adam Wilcox's 21-save shutout at TCF Bank Stadium earlier this month was his second of the season and fifth overall as a Gopher. The South St. Paul, Minn., native is now tied with Robb Stauber, Murray McLachlan and Tom Newman for seventh all-time at Minnesota in career shutouts. Wilcox needs two more shutouts to tie Kent Patterson, Steve DeBus, John Blue and Jim Mattson for third all-time at Minnesota. Kellen Briggs holds the Gophers record for career shutouts at 13 with Adam Hauser in second at eight.
Record Setting at the Hockey City Classic
The 2014 Hockey City Classic was held at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus last Friday with 45,021 fans cheering the Gophers to a 1-0 win over Ohio State in the first outdoor college hockey game in Minnesota in more than 80 years. The turnout stands as the largest crowd ever for a hockey game in the state of Minnesota.
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.
Bound for Sochi
With Thomas Vanek signed on to skate for Austria at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Minnesota now has four alums heading to Sochi, Russia next month. Vanek will make his Olympic debut while Blake Wheeler, Paul Martin and Phil Kessel will skate for the U.S. team. Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin for the most alums on Olympic rosters with four each. Additionally, former Gopher All-American and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant on the U.S. men's team while former Gopher and Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber will serve as goalie coach for the U.S. women's squad. The U.S. women's squad also features Gopher alums Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel, Gigi Marvin, Anne Schleper and Lee Stecklein while Noora Raty and Mira Jalosuo will skate for Finland's women's team. All together, the University of Minnesota will send 11 players and a total of 13 alumni to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.