Oct. 5, 2011
Senior Taylor Matson was voted captain of the 2011-12 Minnesota men's hockey team. Gopher coach Don Lucia gave high praise to Matson today at his weekly media availability, saying "I've never coached a player that works harder than Taylor Matson." We asked the 23-year-old from Mound, Minn., what wearing the "C" means to him and also learned about his tennis game and best fishing story.
GS: You hold the honor of captain for your senior season. What does that mean to you?
TM: It's honestly awesome. I grew up as a kid wanting to be a Gopher, so it is a dream come true for me. It's a great accomplishment and comes with a lot of responsibility, but I am looking forward to it. It was fun to lead the freshmen and returning players this summer in the weight room, and I look forward to leading them on the ice this season as well.
GS: Some captains lead by example, while others are more vocal. What kind of captain will you be?
TM: I would say I am more of a leader by example on the ice and off of it. I really worked on being a leader in the weight room this summer, and I am going to try and be more of a vocal leader on the ice. I don't have a problem telling guys to step up or giving them examples about how to get better at certain things. Hopefully those aspects will be evident of my captaincy as the season progresses.
GS: Every time we saw you during the offseason you were in the weight room. Share your offseason training thoughts with us.
TM: I only have one more time to do this. Since I have been here every single senior who has graduated has said that it goes by so fast and to make sure that you enjoy every moment. That is what I have been trying to do. This summer I have just been trying to hang out here and enjoy every moment of it because it will be over before I know it. When you put the work in, it is going to pay off and that is what I have been doing the last couple of years. Hopefully training hard this offseason will translate to a lot of success during the year.
GS: You have received the team's Most Determined Player award the last two seasons, but in three years you have never played in a playoff game because of injuries.
TM: I am really looking forward to this season. That is the reason I trained hard the entire offseason to hopefully stay injury free. One of our goals at the beginning of the year will be to look long term and to be successful in the playoffs. For me, I want to get to those games and be healthy.
GS: You have also never played in the NCAA tournament. How nice would it be for the Gophers to return to the NCAA tournament under your leadership?
TM: I want everyone to be really close this year. I feel like in the past couple of years there have been some cliques on the team. I think it has been going really well this year, all the way back into the summer. A lot of the older guys have been hanging out with the younger guys. But we are going to have to play hard and play together and if we are consistent throughout the year we will be good to go. We need to play as a team to make the NCAA tournament.
GS: Looking at the roster, this is a young team you are captaining this year.
TM: Well, we have no senior defensemen. With the freshman coming in hopefully they are going to have a spark of energy. During your first year you are very excited, so hopefully they can control those emotions and play together with their linemates and teammates. I also think we have a great sophomore class, and I think they will be a lot more comfortable this year. If they do their jobs then we will be successful.
GS: You play the first 10 weekends of the season against some very good teams. How important is it to start the season off on the right track?
TM: We have to be consistent. Part of the issue in the past is that we would play great Friday and then come out flat on Saturday. We cannot underestimate any team and we are going to need to establish our mentality for the season early.
GS: Let's say you did not play hockey, what sport would you be playing instead?
TM: In high school I played tennis, so it would probably be that. I was captain of the team for two years. I played doubles in high school and we went to state a couple of times. Nick Bjugstad also played in high school and so did Nico Sacchetti. Those guys are fun to hit with.
GS: We know you also like to fish. Share your best fishing story with us.
TM: I don't really have anything spectacular or big, but fishing means a lot to me. It is very close to my heart, as it is something that my dad and I do. Growing up on a lake, I have been fishing my entire life, but the last 10 years or so, we started fly fishing. We will get out of the city every year and it is just me and my dad out in the middle of nowhere. It is relaxed and we just have fun. It is nice to get away and have a good time with my dad. We are pretty serious about it. We tie our own flies and everything. We go hunting and catch pheasant tails and then put them on the line. We have gone to a Willow State Park in Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming and British Columbia, Canada.
OT Winner Keeps `U' Streaking
The Maroon & Gold have now won seven-straight games and nine of the last 10 contests.
Around the Rink: Connor Reilly
A native of Chanhassen, Minn., Reilly has collected 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 114 career games with the Gophers.
Border Battle on Deck
Friday’s series opener is set for 7 p.m. CT with Saturday’s finale scheduled for 5 p.m.