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.
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An extra visit to Mariucci Arena was enough to convince Steve Johnson he wanted to become a Gopher. The 19-year-old defenseman from Minnetonka announced via Twitter he committed to the Gophers just four days after watching the team defeat Lethbridge 5-1 in Saturday’s exhibition.
Johnson is currently playing with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. He has two assists through three games. He played the 2012-2013 season with the Aberdeen Wings ( NAHL) and collected 23 points (six goals, 17 assists).
“It feels incredible,” said Johnson in a Lancers press release. “I grew up watching [the Gophers] and never thought I could be out there with them, but now that I’m a part of that, it’s a great feeling. As a Minnesota-born kid, you always dream about being a Gopher. To be blessed with that opportunity is unbelievable.”
Johnson played high school hockey at Minnetonka with current Gopher Vinni Lettieri and incoming 2014-2015 recruit Jack Ramsey.
Current Gophers defenders Ben Marshall and Justin Holl also played for the Lancers.
Johnson is the second recruit to commit the Gophers in the past month. Forward Tarek Baker made his announcement in late September.
Excited to announce my commitment to the University of Minnesota! Big thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way! #Gophers— Steve Johnson (@Steviej5) October 9, 2013
• Another banner will go up in Ridder Arena on Friday evening. The Gophers women’s hockey team will raise the unblemished 2013 NCAA National Championship banner at 5:45 p.m., prior to the series opener with Wisconsin.
It is the second consecutive year the Gophers women start out the year recognizing the previous season’s national title run. Last year, the Gophers finished a perfect 41-0.
Other Gophers women’s hockey notes:
-Goaltender Amanda Leveille made 45 saves in her first full series in the net.
-Rachel Bona, Hannah Brandt, and Maryanne Menefee combined for 17 points in last weekend’s series. The line began skating together in the third period of the season opener and continued to produce on Saturday. Bona finished the series with seven points.
• Be on the lookout for my men's season preview in tomorrow’s print edition. Lots of pieces including main feature, season schedule, roster, chart on conference realignment, and preview on Friday’s game with Mercyhurst. Everything will be available online as well. I'll post links once it all goes live.
For now, here's video of coach Don Lucia explaining what he knows about Mercyhurst: