Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine 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 has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.

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North Star College Cup part of new era of college hockey + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 22, 2014 - 7:17 PM

The North Star College Cup should help Minnesota hockey fans transition into the new era of conference realignment.

The inaugural tournament at Xcel Energy Center will feature four of the five Minnesota Division I hockey programs in a weekend showcase. The fifth team will rotate in the following year, while another program rotates out.

This year the event will feature the host Gophers, St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State.

The schools are former Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals, but were split up this season with the creation of Big Ten hockey and the National Collegiate Hockey Association.

As of Wednesday, only a couple thousand tickets remained for the tournament. Gophers coach Don Lucia expects that it’ll help Minnesota fans maintain their in-state rivalries and transition into the post WCHA era.

Friday, January 24, 2014 - Session 1
Game #1: Minnesota State-Mankato vs. Minnesota Duluth - 4 p.m.
Game #2: St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota - 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - Session 2
Game #3: Consolation Game - 4 p.m.
Game #4: Championship Game - 7 p.m.

• Gophers defenseman Jake Parenteau was cleared to play this weekend. He broke his leg at Michigan State six weeks ago and has been out since.

Lucia said he was unsure whether Parenteau would be back in the lineup, though. His performance at practice on Thursday and Friday morning would factor into the decision.

Gophers forward Kyle Rau:

Gophers coach Don Lucia:

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