Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.

Follow Jason on Twitter @JGonStrib

Email to talk Gophers.

Gophers hockey returns to action missing pieces + VIDEO

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 3, 2014 - 8:56 PM

It’s become tradition for the Gophers to return from winter break without a couple of its top players.

Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei and freshman forward Hudson Fasching are this year’s standouts competing in the World Junior Championships. There’s a new twist this season, though. Gophers coach Don Lucia is also with the U.S. National Junior Team.

 The Gophers, however, aren’t worried about who is missing. Acting head coach Mike Guentzel said the Gophers’ depth should allow them to operate without a hitch. It will also allow for others to get more ice time.

“Just try to keep it on the tracks this week. Hopefully we can keep playing,” Guentzel said. “We’re trying to implement some new guys in new spots. Obviously Brady [Skjei] and Hudson [Fasching] being gone creates some new opportunities for other guys. … Hopefully we can develop some young guys’ confidence coming out of the break. “

Seth Ambroz will move into Fasching’s spot on the first line. On defense, Ryan Reilly fills the sixth spot with Skjei absent and Jake Parenteau still recovering from a broken leg. Reilly’s one appearance this season was at forward.

Defenseman Mike Reilly said the defense will be fine rotating five men. They’ve succeeded in similar situations earlier in the season.

The offense gets senior forward Tom Serratore back after his missed nearly a month with a lower-body injury. Vinni Lettieri is also in the lineup after missing the last series of the season against Michigan State.

With USA’s early exit from the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, the players returned to the United States late Friday night. There is an outside chance that Don Lucia returns to coach the Gophers and Skjei and Fasching return to the ice on Saturday.

• Ferris State defeated RPI in the opening game of the Mariucci Classic, 6-2. The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs advance to Saturday’s championship game. If the Gophers win, it’ll set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown.

• A last-minute effort by the Gophers athletic staff and Big Ten Network earned Saturday night’s championship game a primetime TV spot.

Entering the week, Saturday was only one of two Gophers game days not slated for TV. The potential of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup was too intriguing to pass up, though, and the Big Ten Network picked up the game earlier this week.

• Friday’s hockey feature: Relive 20 years of Maiucci Arena moments and video.

23RD ANNUAL MARIUCCI CLASSIC PREVIEW

Friday: Ferris State vs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), 4 p.m.

Colgate vs. Gophers, 7 p.m., Fox Sports North, 1500-AM, BTN2Go.com

Saturday: Consolation game, 4 p.m.

Championship game, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network, 1500-AM, BTN2Go.com

Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (12-2-2 overall, 3-0-1-0 Big Ten) will be tested without three players and its head coach.

Bulldog at a glance: Ferris State (14-2-3 overall, 10-0-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) jumped to No. 2 in the most recent college polls.

Engineers at a glance: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (8-6-4 overall, 3-3-3 Eastern College Athletic Conference) has been in and out of the rankings this season and received votes in the current poll.

Raiders at a glance: Colgate (7-9-2 overall, 5-3-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) is in the top third of its conference with the help of consistently good third periods. In their last 10 games, they’ve outscored opponents 14-8 in the third period. They beat Ferris State and lost to RPI earlier this season.

Gophers lines

Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Kyle Rau, Seth Ambroz
Nate Condon, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata
Connor Reilly, Travis Boyd, Vinni Lettieri
Tom Serratore, Gabe Guertler, Christian Isackson

Defensemen (left, right)
Mike Reilly, Michael Brodzinski
Ben Marshall, Justin Holl
Jake Bischoff, Ryan Reilly

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox
Michael Shibrowski
Ryan Coyne

Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly:

  • 1
  • Comments

ADVERTISEMENT

Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Timberwolves season

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT