Gophers Set for PSU, Final Home Series
Feb. 26, 2014
The No. 2 Minnesota men’s hockey program returns to action this weekend with this year’s final series at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers host Big Ten Conference rival Penn State for a pair of contests as the inaugural Big Ten season enters the home stretch. Friday’s series opener is set for 8 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.com (Matt Shepard, Ben Clymer, Mark Strobel) while Saturday’s finale is slated for 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Network (Dan Kelly, Ben Clymer). Friday’s radio broadcast will be on 1500 ESPN while Saturday is on MyTalk 107.1. Both games will also be on the Gopher Radio Network (Wally Shaver, Frank Mazzocco).
For Minnesota seniors Nate Condon, Justin Holl, Jake Parenteau, Tom Serratore and Michael Shibrowski, this weekend’s series with Penn State will be their final games at Mariucci Arena. Among their many accolades, this year’s group of graduating seniors earned a trip to the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four, won back-to-back MacNaughton Cups as WCHA regular-season champions, set a Minnesota attendance record at the 2014 Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium and helped the Gophers capture the inaugural North Star College Cup. The Gophers will honor this year’s senior class prior to Saturday’s home finale.
There’s No Place Like Home
This weekend’s series marks the final two games at Mariucci Arena this season for the Gophers. 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 288-113-45 (.696) on home ice. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Gophers are 46-10-6 (.790) on home ice including an 13-1-3 (.853) 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).
Penn State Notes
Penn State comes to Mariucci Arena for the first time ever this weekend. The Gophers swept the Nittany Lions on the road in mid January (3-2, 5-2)and are 2-0-0 all-time against this weekend’s opponent. Ben Marsahll, Travis Boyd and Justin Kloos are Minnesota’s leading scorers against Penn State with three points (one goal, two assists) each.
The Gophers freshman class has contributed 43 goals this season -- second nationally as a rookie class only to Boston College’s 44 goals. The Minnesota newcomers have tallied .406 of the team’s 106 goals this season and are averaging 1.43 goals per game -- the highest ratio of any freshman class in the nation this year.
Wilcox Stands Out in Net
Sophomore Adam Wilcox is a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award and the new Mike Richter Award (given to the nation’s top goaltender) as well as an All-America candidate. In 68 career games played, Wilcox has posted a 45-12-10 overall record. Out of those games, 32 have been played against nationally ranked foes with the sophomore netminder recording a 19-10-3 record against ranked teams. Wilcox (20-4-5) is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten with 20 wins this season, seventh nationally in goals against average at 1.97 and 10th nationally in save percentage at .931.
Best Offense is a Good Defense
Minnesota boasts the NCAA’s top defense this year, allowing just 59 goals against and averaging just 1.87 goals against per game. Additionally, 22 of the Gophers’ 106 goals (.208) this season have come from defensemen including Mike Reilly, who leads all Big Ten defensemen and ranks tied for fifth among NCAA blue liners with eight goals this season. Reilly is also tied for the Big Ten lead in points by a defenseman with 22.
Lettieri Breaks Out
Freshman forward Vinni Lettieri entered the Michigan series with just three points (one goal, two assists) under his belt before doubling his season totals with three assists against the Wolverines including his first career multi-point game. The grandson of Lou Nanne now has six points (one goal, five assists) for the Gophers this season.
Guertler Finds the Net
Like his classmate, Gabe Guertler had a break out series against the Wolverines including his first career goal in the series opener. Guertler, who entered the series with just one assist, ended it with three points (one goal, two assists).
Nate Condon has skated in 147 consecutive games for Minnesota entering the weekend and is the program’s most veteran player at 148 games (37-59--96). 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 needs just four points to reach the 100-career point milestone.
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 59-9-5 all-time when the forward tallies a point including an incredible 38-4-4 mark since the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Additionally, the Gophers are 29-2-0 all-time when Rau tallies more than one point in a game (7-0-0 this season) and are 6-0-0 when he tallies more than one goal in a game (1-0-0 this season).
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 six-straight Big Ten games to close out the rest of the season, starting with this weekend’s series against the Nittany Lions and close 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).
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 365-186-64 record in 15 seasons at Minnesota and boasts an overall coaching record of 644-341-93 Only Doug Woog (1985-99) has more wins at Minnesota with 390.
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.
Wilcox Moves Up the Record Book
Adam Wilcox’s 19-save shutout on Feb. 1, 2014 against the Spartans was his third of the season and sixth overall as a Gopher. The South St. Paul, Minn., native is now seventh all-time at Minnesota in career shutouts and needs one more 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.
Gophers in Sochi
Gopher Hockey had a total of six representatives at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi including Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Paul Martin on the U.S. roster and Thomas Vanek on Austria's roster. Former Gopher and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards served as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's team while Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber was the goalie coach for the U.S. women and helped the team earn a silver medal in Sochi. Minnesota's four Olympians were tied for the most among college hockey programs at this year's Olympics while the Gophers' 54 all-time Olympians are by far the most in all of college hockey. The Gophers have a long-standing history of competition at the Winter Olympics with a representative at every Winter Olympics dating back to 1936.Between Minnesota's men's and women's programs, the University of Minnesota had a total of 14 representatives in Sochi -- the most among any college or university in the NCAA.