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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Saturday’s exhibition provided a glimpse of how the Gophers’ line combinations may shake out. Preseason All-American forward Kyle Rau led the first line at center with two freshmen forwards. Returning defensemen Brady Skjei and Justin Holl were also listed first line and started the game.
However the number of forwards that played, 14, and the reality that it was just a preseason warm-up, didn’t allow for much clarity to come out of the 5-1 victory over Lethbridge.
Despite the combinations set by the Gophers coaching staff prior to the exhibition, the lines continually changed throughout the night.
“We just started. We probably won’t figure that out for another two or three months. It’s a process,” Rau said.
The captain did learn some good things about his team in the win. Rau was happy with the variety of goal scorers and how the team looked on power plays. See more of Rau’s reaction from Saturday night in the below video.
Lethbridge lost to Minnesota State 7-1 on Sunday night.
• The Gophers remained at No. 5 in USA Today/USA Hockey’s Week 1 poll. Most team’s officially open their season this weekend.
• The Big Ten Conference is already promoting its inaugural hockey tournament. Ticket packages for the March 20-22 event at Xcel Energy Center will go on sale Oct. 14 at noon.
• The government shutdown could affect college hockey and the Big Ten Network. Penn State’s season opener against Army is in question and is slotted for BTN’s Friday night national broadcast. It is the first of 27 hockey games BTN plans to air this season.
Several reports Tuesday afternoon said srouces confirmed Army had been approved to travel to Penn State for the game. However, Matt Maisel of WJAC in State College, Penn., said Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky would not confirm who his team would play Friday night, but said they are preparing for Army.
Gophers junior co-captain Kyle Rau