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' depleted defensive core under spotlight

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 31, 2014 - 5:35 PM

A depleted blue line could catch up to the Gophers on Friday night.

They are without defensemen Ben Marshall and Michael Brodzinski, and Jake Parenteau will play just his second game in nearly two months. That leaves four defensemen to carry most of the load against Michigan State on Friday night at 8 p.m.

The last time the Gophers played with a depleted defensive core they tied an under-.500 Colgate team at the time.

Throughout the week of practice, usual forwards A.J. Michaelson , Gabe Guertler and Ryan Reilly suited up as defensemen. Michaelson got the nod for the sixth defenseman on Friday night, but likely won’t spend much time, if any, on the blue line.

Gophers coach Don Lucia used the trio to help give the regular defensemen more rest. They’ll be expected to spend extra time on the ice against the Spartans.

Marshall was suspended one game for collecting three game misconduct penalties in the same season. Brodzinski sustained a lower-body injury, last Friday. Lucia said Brodzinski likely won’t return until the last week of February.

The Gophers are also without senior forward Tom Serratore. He is expected to miss a couple weeks after blocking a shot in last weekend’s North Star College Cup championship game.

More on injuries and mid-week video

• Christian Horn won’t be returning to the Gophers.

The forward announced on Twitter earlier this week he had committed to St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.). The Saints play in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Horn, a Benilde-St. Margaret’s product, left the Gophers in late October for more playing time in the USHL. He became the Tri-City Storm’s leading scorer with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) and earned a plus-five rating in 28 games.

The impressive season attracted the attention of not just St. Lawrence, but the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. They acquired Horn this week from the Storm in exchange for a draft pick and swap of future players.

After Horn’s departure, Lucia said he’d be open to have the sophomore return after his season away. That option is no longer a possibility.

For more on Horn’s departure from the Gophers including video from Lucia, see the original blog post.

• SERIES PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE (8-12-3 overall, 2-4-2-2 Big Ten) at NO. 1 GOPHERS (18-2-4, 7-0-1-0)

8:04 p.m. on Friday and 7:10 p.m. on Saturday at Mariucci Arena

TV/radio/live stream: BTN on Friday and FSN-plus on Saturday; 1500-AM both nights; BTN2Go.com both nights

Gophers at a glance: The Gophers return to Big Ten play shorthanded. Defenseman Ben Marshall was suspended one game for collecting three game misconduct penalties in the same season. Forward Tom Serratore and defenseman Michael Brodzinski sustained lower-body injuries and will be sidelined at least two weeks. The last time the Gophers were in a similar situation they tied Colgate in their first game back from winter break. They do, however, hold a 12-game unbeaten streak.

Spartans at a glance: Michigan State is coming off a pair of losses to rival Michigan, but is 2-2-1 over its last five games. The Spartans tied and lost a one-goal game to the Gophers in the first half of the round-robin conference schedule in East Lansing, Mich. Like the Gophers, the Spartans play a lot of sophomores and freshmen. Coach Tom Anastos said the group is starting to play with more confidence and succeed in the right line combinations.

• Read Friday’s feature: College hockey’s focus lands on hits to the head.Chart and video.

• Gophers lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Kyle Rau, Hudson Fasching
Nate Condon, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata
Connor Reilly, Travis Boyd, Seth Ambroz
Ryan Reilly, Christian Isackson, Vinni Lettieri

Defensemen (left, right)
Brady Skjei, Justin Holl
Mike Reilly, Jake Parenteau
A.J. Michaelson, Jake Bischoff

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox, Michael Shibrowski, Ryan Coyne

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 108
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT