Staff Directory 10644611

Joe Christensen

Sports enterprise reporter | General assignment
phone: 612-673-7844
Joe Christensen is a general assignment/sports enterprise reporter who previously spent 15 years covering Major League Baseball and four covering NCAA football. He is a Faribault, Minn., native and University of Minnesota graduate whose other newspaper stops have included the Baltimore Sun and Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise.
Recent content from Joe Christensen
Gophers men's hockey beaten by North Dakota for first time since '12

Gophers men's hockey beaten by North Dakota for first time since '12

North Dakota scored three times during a five-minute major on the Gophers, paving the way to a 4-0 victory cruise before a sellout crowd of 11,890 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Demands of year-round sports are pushing kids to the limit

Demands of year-round sports are pushing kids to the limit

Minnesota athletes are pushing themselves to extremes, developing highly polished skills while families make major investments of money and time. The first of our three-part series examines how all of those hours bring increased risks of injury -- and burnout.
Wall-to-wall mayhem: Gophers, UND finally return rivalry to Grand Forks

Wall-to-wall mayhem: Gophers, UND finally return rivalry to Grand Forks

None of the players, on either side, has been through a Minnesota-UND game in Grand Forks. But Gophers coach Don Lucia has told players what to expect.
Parise leaves ice at practice; Wild suits up assistant to help out

Parise leaves ice at practice; Wild suits up assistant to help out

To deal with the Wild's injury-created shortage of players. coach Bruce Boudreau had 45-year-old assistant Darby Hendrickson take the ice to have enough bodies for practice.
Sluggish Gophers hockey opens Big Ten with home loss to Penn State

Sluggish Gophers hockey opens Big Ten with home loss to Penn State

Playing without captain Tyler Sheehy, the Gophers fell 3-1 to the Nittany Lions.
Can Gophers fans finally learn to love Big Ten hockey?

Can Gophers fans finally learn to love Big Ten hockey?

Four of the Big Ten's seven hockey schools made the 16-team NCAA field last season, including newcomer Notre Dame, which went to the Frozen Four.
Gophers fall to UMD 4-3 in OT to lose season opener

Gophers fall to UMD 4-3 in OT to lose season opener

The Bulldogs more than doubled the Gophers' shots on goal and beat their in-state rival for the eighth consecutive meeting.
Mittelstadt is big addition, but U wants widespread improvement

Mittelstadt is big addition, but U wants widespread improvement

Optimism surrounds more than the talented hockey freshman from Eden Prairie.

Gophers hockey on TV? For some big upcoming games, not in the Twin Cities

Upcoming Gophers men's hockey rivalry games at Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota will be televised — but not in wide swaths of Minnesota.In college hockey,…
With Zach Parise ailing, Wild sign Daniel Winnik to fill in

With Zach Parise ailing, Wild sign Daniel Winnik to fill in

With a back issue keeping Zach Parise out for at least the Wild's first two games, the team officially added veteran winger Daniel…
Granlund's breakthrough season rewarded with new contract

Granlund's breakthrough season rewarded with new contract

There is no mistaking Mikael Granlund's singular importance to the Wild, as it prepares to open a new season Thursday at Detroit.
Staal eagerly awaits Wild season after frightening playoff concussion

Staal eagerly awaits Wild season after frightening playoff concussion

Eric Staal returns healthy and driven by playoff loss.
Dubnyk continues to stand out in Wild's final exhibition games

Dubnyk continues to stand out in Wild's final exhibition games

Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves in Saturday night's 5-1 victory over Dallas, capping a 5-2 preseason for the Wild.
Wild notes: Roster trimmed to 24

Wild notes: Roster trimmed to 24

With less than a week to go before the season opener, players on the bubble include forwards Daniel Winnik, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin, and defensemen Ryan Murphy, Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly.
Fletcher on Suter: 'This guy could play to 45, if he wants to'

Fletcher on Suter: 'This guy could play to 45, if he wants to'

Ryan Suter is showing no signs of slowing down as he enters Year 6 of his 13-year, $98 million contract.
Cullen sits out again as Wild beat Blues 3-2

Cullen sits out again as Wild beat Blues 3-2

Matt Cullen has not played in five of six preseason games for the Wild, leaving coach Bruce Boudreau cautious about the 40-year-old's season outlook.
Parise's health could affect Wild's season-opening roster

Parise's health could affect Wild's season-opening roster

The Wild's season starts next Thursday in Detroit, and as General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday, "The next week will be critical" for players on the bubble - especially if Zach Parise can't play right away.
Stalock wins Wild backup goalie job; roster cut to 26

Stalock wins Wild backup goalie job; roster cut to 26

The Wild on Wednesday made it official by placing Alex Stalock's chief competition as Devan Dubnyk's backup — former Boston Bruin Niklas Svedberg — on waivers.
Blue-collar forward Daniel Winnik punches in for the Wild

Blue-collar forward Daniel Winnik punches in for the Wild

When the Wild obtained veteran forward Daniel Winnik this month, it reunited coach Bruce Boudreau with someone who played big minutes for him with Anaheim
Wild owner has championship expectations: 'We have a team that can do it'

Wild owner has championship expectations: 'We have a team that can do it'

"Anything short of winning the Stanley Cup would be a disappointment," Wild owner Craig Leipold said Saturday night.
Lucia optimistic on Gophers hockey with season on horizon

Lucia optimistic on Gophers hockey with season on horizon

The Gophers' men's hockey team is 10 days from its exhibition opener. Here are three things to watch for the upcoming season, which officially begins Oct. 6.
Stalock battling to make Wild's roster as backup goalie

Stalock battling to make Wild's roster as backup goalie

Alex Stalock, a South St. Paul native, is fighting for a roster spot and knows he is fortunate to still be playing after a freak on-ice incident in 2011.
Olofsson, Reilly battling for spots on Wild's blue line

Olofsson, Reilly battling for spots on Wild's blue line

Mike Reilly, 24, and Gustav Olofsson, 22, are primary candidates to join free agent signee Kyle Quincey on the Wild's third defensive pairing.

Wild notes: Zach Parise held out of opening practices

Zach Parise did on-ice skating exercises early Friday morning at Xcel Energy Center but did not take part in either of the two Wild practices…

Wild notes: Zach Parise held out of opening practices

Zach Parise did on-ice skating exercises early Friday morning at Xcel Energy Center but did not take part in either of the two Wild practices…
Animated leaps to cool composure: Inside P.J. Fleck's Gophers debut

Animated leaps to cool composure: Inside P.J. Fleck's Gophers debut

P.J. Fleck's first game in Minnesota had highs, lows and everything in between. "Always appreciate a win, no matter how you get it," he said after the 10-point victory.
Repaired Cashman could be a centerpiece somewhere in U's defense

Repaired Cashman could be a centerpiece somewhere in U's defense

Expectations are high for a healthy Blake Cashman after the former Eden Prairie star led the Gophers in sacks last season. But where will he play?
Listening, learning are in play as U football reacts to assault scandal

Listening, learning are in play as U football reacts to assault scandal

The Gophers had cleaned their image under former coaches Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys. But that effort took a major hit when several players were involved in an alleged sexual assault. Now, with Fleck in charge, the Gophers are trying to repair their image again.

'Being P.J. Fleck' producer went in wondering, 'Is this guy for real?'

Four-part ESPNU documentary follows new Gophers coach, digging behind the scenes.
At home with Fleck: Family life just as fast and furious as football

At home with Fleck: Family life just as fast and furious as football

Besides laying groundwork for the Gophers and recruiting at a turbocharged pace, 36-year-old P.J. Fleck reanchored himself at home, with training camp set to open Tuesday.
P.J. Fleck's first Gophers team picked to finish low in West by Big Ten media

P.J. Fleck's first Gophers team picked to finish low in West by Big Ten media

Wisconsin picked to win the West; only Purdue and Illinois rank below Gophers in division predictions.
Gophers' women's hockey conference seeking online donations

Gophers' women's hockey conference seeking online donations

The WCHA Women's League has launched a crowdfunding page to solicit donations to offset annual costs for the seven teams that remain after North Dakota dropped its program.
P.J. Fleck will be subject of four-part show on ESPN, BTN

P.J. Fleck will be subject of four-part show on ESPN, BTN

ESPNU and Big Ten Network plan to air a four-part series in August called "BEING P.J. Fleck," with a behind-the-scenes look at the new Gophers football coach.
Fears become reality as U softball coach Allister leaves for Stanford

Fears become reality as U softball coach Allister leaves for Stanford

Athletic director Mark Coyle said he "aggressively" pursued an extension with Jessica Allister and was willing to make her one of the highest-paid coaches in the Big Ten.
Ace softball pitcher from Maple Grove transferring to Gophers from LSU

Ace softball pitcher from Maple Grove transferring to Gophers from LSU

Sydney Smith had a 54-1 record at Maple Grove and now gives Gophers a potential replacement for graduating All-America pitcher Sara Groenewegen.
An early look at some pivotal Gophers as the Fleck era nears

An early look at some pivotal Gophers as the Fleck era nears

Tackles and whistles — and, oh yeah, that new head coach's tenure — start in less than three weeks for the Gophers.
After Mariucci renaming, will The Barn get a corporate makeover?

After Mariucci renaming, will The Barn get a corporate makeover?

So far, there has been no announcement of renaming historic Williams Arena, the historic basketball venue. But Gophers officials have hinted that it's a "possibility."
Coyle puts brakes on Fleck's idea for Gophers to switch sidelines

Coyle puts brakes on Fleck's idea for Gophers to switch sidelines

"We just started to have this conversation the past week or so," athletic director Mark Coyle said. "Before any decisions are made, we obviously communicate with our season-ticket holders, and so we'll continue to have those conversations."
Gophers football team storms the beach — at Lake Nokomis

Gophers football team storms the beach — at Lake Nokomis

University of Minnesota football players are grinding through summer conditioning programs, which run five days per week and sometimes feature a break from the routine.
Major revenue source of Gophers athletics faces an uncertain future

Major revenue source of Gophers athletics faces an uncertain future

After inheriting a budget deficit at Minnesota and making an expensive football coaching change Gophers AD Mark Coyle needs added Big Ten revenue to balance the books.
Twins cap newsy day at Target Field with big comeback over Orioles

Twins cap newsy day at Target Field with big comeback over Orioles

The Twins rallied back from a 6-0 hole to score nine unanswered runs and beat the Orioles. Brandon Kintzler, named an All-Star Game replacement earlier in the day, picked up his AL-leading 24th save.
Gophers basketball, hockey leaving ESPN 1500 for 'The Fan' family of stations

Gophers basketball, hockey leaving ESPN 1500 for 'The Fan' family of stations

The University of Minnesota has opted to move all of its sports programming to the iHeartRadio family of stations, which features 100.3 FM radio in the Twin Cities.
Fleck keeps landing Minnesotans in 'down year' for state recruits

Fleck keeps landing Minnesotans in 'down year' for state recruits

Fleck has yet to land a consensus four-star recruit, so the Gophers are expected to drop as traditional powers ranked behind them begin filling up their classes.
Humiliated at home again, Twins thumped 14-3 by Seattle

Humiliated at home again, Twins thumped 14-3 by Seattle

The Twins suffered their sixth consecutive home loss, and they have given up at least seven runs in each of their past five games at Target Field.
Twins' Santiago wonders if WBC injury bug hit him, too

Twins' Santiago wonders if WBC injury bug hit him, too

Twins lefthander Hector Santiago wonders if pitching in the World Baseball Classic is the reason why he has landed on the disabled list for the first time in his seven-year big-league career.
Hechsel, Roese hoping to end Gophers track careers in 800m NCAA finals

Hechsel, Roese hoping to end Gophers track careers in 800m NCAA finals

Former southeast metro rivals Mitch Hechsel and Nate Roese forged a bond running as Gophers. Their track careers have taken different routes, but all roads led one final meet — the NCAAs in Eugene, Ore.
Gophers baseball likely needs to win Big Ten tourney to make NCAAs

Gophers baseball likely needs to win Big Ten tourney to make NCAAs

Two losses to Purdue last Saturday cost the Gophers a regular-season Big Ten title and dimmed their postseason hopes.
Now there's much more buzz when Gophers coaches hit the road

Now there's much more buzz when Gophers coaches hit the road

Organizers estimated that about 300 people turned out in Winona on Monday to see P.J. Fleck and Richard Pitino, dwarfing the crowd that came to the event last time it was in town.
All about that change: Groenewegen dominates Gophers softball opponents

All about that change: Groenewegen dominates Gophers softball opponents

Sara Groenewegen and her changeup give the Gophers a chance vs. anyone. She has eight career no-hitters and holds the Gophers' all-time strikeout record, with 1,187.
Gophers softball team is No. 1 (if you poll college coaches)

Gophers softball team is No. 1 (if you poll college coaches)

After not being among the 16 teams seeded in the NCAA tournament, the Gophers were treated more favorably by coaches voting in the final softball poll of the season.
Shocked, angry Gophers vow to regroup after NCAA softball snub

Shocked, angry Gophers vow to regroup after NCAA softball snub

After seeing they'd be sent on the road, one Gophers softball player said: "We were mad, sad, angry, whatever. But we took a couple minutes to digest it and tried to find a way to move on."
NCAA issues statement about Gophers softball not being seeded

NCAA issues statement about Gophers softball not being seeded

Performance against Top-25 teams, strength of schedule were factors.
54-3 Gophers softball team snubbed in NCAA seeding

54-3 Gophers softball team snubbed in NCAA seeding

The Gophers have the best record in Division I softball, at 54-3, but in a stunning development Sunday night, that wasn't enough to land them one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Fleck's top assistants will combine to make more than $3.2 million next season

Fleck's top assistants will combine to make more than $3.2 million next season

The University of Minnesota is investing nearly $7 million next season on the sidelines for a new era of Gophers football.
Gophers might be on softball collision course with Michigan

Gophers might be on softball collision course with Michigan

Big Ten's top two teams could meet for first time this season this weekend in Ann Arbor.
Lindaman player of the year as Gophers dominate Big Ten softball awards

Lindaman player of the year as Gophers dominate Big Ten softball awards

The Gophers won their first regular season conference title since 1991, which is also the last time the program had a Coach of the Year honoree.
Big bat, big fun: Dwyer is the life of Gophers softball's 48-3 party

Big bat, big fun: Dwyer is the life of Gophers softball's 48-3 party

The No. 4 Gophers are having a lot of fun this softball season — no one more so than hot-hitting infielder Sydney Dwyer.
Rare Minneapolis kid settles in for Gophers all over the baseball field

Rare Minneapolis kid settles in for Gophers all over the baseball field

Super-utility player Jordan Kozicky of Southwest is the U's first Minneapolis City Conference starter in decades and is among the team's top hitters.
Lindaman already becoming a home run legend for Gophers softball

Lindaman already becoming a home run legend for Gophers softball

Kendyl Lindaman on Wednesday hit her 16th home run of the season for the No. 4-ranked Gophers, breaking the single-season record which had stood since 2003.
Well-armed: Pitching gives Gophers chance to repeat as Big Ten champs

Well-armed: Pitching gives Gophers chance to repeat as Big Ten champs

The surprising success of the pitching staff has the Gophers in first place in the Big Ten race.
Big Ten football spring report: Michigan State in danger of falling behind in stacked East

Big Ten football spring report: Michigan State in danger of falling behind in stacked East

Big Ten power Michigan State slipped to 3-9 last year, and the Spartans have had an even worse offseason.
Fleck propels Gophers football recruiting ranking briefly into top 10

Fleck propels Gophers football recruiting ranking briefly into top 10

When college football fans search for the Gophers in national recruiting rankings, they usually have to scroll past the traditional powers and click "next page."
Gophers notes: Johnson's six receptions catch Fleck's eye

Gophers notes: Johnson's six receptions catch Fleck's eye

Tyler Johnson led all Gophers receivers with six catches for 64 yards in Saturday's spring game, showing why new coach P.J. Fleck has been raving about the sophomore.
Fleck's new-look Gophers to get 'game' action for the first time

Fleck's new-look Gophers to get 'game' action for the first time

In front of a handful of recruits, Gophers' 2017 potential starters will play in game scenarios at Saturday's spring game.
U walk-on learns of scholarship via team's Easter egg hunt

U walk-on learns of scholarship via team's Easter egg hunt

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck found a unique way to deliver happy news to his team about former Eden Prairie star Blake Cashman.
Fleck has high hopes for Gophers spring game, despite low numbers

Fleck has high hopes for Gophers spring game, despite low numbers

Due to injuries and players recovering from surgery, Saturday's Gophers spring game will have limited participation. "It's going to be a game within a bunch of drills," coach P.J. Fleck said.
Gophers' new offensive line coach makes do with depleted numbers

Gophers' new offensive line coach makes do with depleted numbers

In 20 years of coaching, Ed Warinner has never experienced something like the Gophers going through spring practice with only five healthy offensive linemen.
Gophers have 1-2 punch in running backs Smith, Brooks

Gophers have 1-2 punch in running backs Smith, Brooks

Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks have impressed the new staff and have a good relationship on and off field.
Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca has Fleck's full trust

Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca has Fleck's full trust

Under Kirk Ciarrocca, Western Michigan's offense culminated a three-year run with the fewest turnovers in the nation last season. Now, he's tasked with doing the same at Minnesota.
Gophers starting quarterback call may not be made until August

Gophers starting quarterback call may not be made until August

Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft appear to be the leading contenders, but Seth Green and Tanner Morgan are two others in the running.
Gophers linebacker Coughlin putting anger over Claeys firing behind him

Gophers linebacker Coughlin putting anger over Claeys firing behind him

Carter Coughlin's anger was there for everyone to see. The University of Minnesota had just fired football coach Tracy Claeys, and the linebacker from Eden Prairie was venting on Twitter.
Receivers coach Matt Simon sees 'growth' in Gophers corps

Receivers coach Matt Simon sees 'growth' in Gophers corps

When Matt Simon was a wide receiver at Northern Illinois, P.J. Fleck served as his position coach.
P.J. Fleck went to great lengths to keep Winfield from leaving U

P.J. Fleck went to great lengths to keep Winfield from leaving U

One of P.J. Fleck's most important selling jobs since taking over as Gophers coach came when he convinced sophomore safety Antoine Winfield Jr. not to transfer.
Gophers QB Rhoda went from job hunting to learning Fleck's offense

Gophers QB Rhoda went from job hunting to learning Fleck's offense

Conor Rhoda has emerged as a leading candidate to become the next Gophers starting quarterback, which is quite a twist, considering he almost gave up football last winter.

Gophers notes: Line takes another hit; Gannon visits practice

Sam Schlueter returned to practice Saturday, giving the Gophers six healthy offensive linemen, but then Quinn Oseland suffered a lower-body injury.
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