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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The season is finally here and the Gophers will open it up with a tournament mindset. College Hockey Inc.’s Ice Breaker Tournament is being hosted by the Gophers for a third time since its inception in 1997.
The host Gophers won it in 2007 and kickoff Friday night with Mercyhurst.
Forward Sam Warning’s return brought some change to the Gophers’ lines for the season opener. As coach Don Lucia anticipated, the junior forward will skate in the first line with Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching.
Warning sat out of last week’s exhibition for precautionary reasons.
Freshman Vinni Lettieri moved to the third line with Travis Boyd and Christian Isackson. This group could undergo several changes in Friday night’s season opener with Mercyhurst. Lucia said one of the biggest uncertainties right now is who will skate with the junior Boyd.
“The big question mark right now I have, is who is going to play with Boyd,” Lucia said on Wednesday. “We’ve been rotating different people in there. We’ll let them fight it out at tomorrow’s practice on who it’s going to be on opening day.”
Isackson and Connor Reilly earned the job last weekend.
Here’s a look at the Gophers lines:
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Kyle Rau, Hudson Fasching
Nate Condon, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata
Christian Isackson, Travis Boyd, Vinni Lettieri
Tom Serratore, A.J. Michaelson, Seth Ambroz
Defensemen (left, right)
Brady Skjei, Justin Holl
Mike Reilly, Jake Parenteau
Ben Marshall, Michael Brodzinski
(Connor Reilly, Ryan Reilly, Christian Horn are not listed for tonight’s game)
GAME PREVIEW: MERCYHURST AT NO. 5 GOPHERS
7:10 p.m., Friday, first round of the Ice Breaker tournament at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio: Fox Sports North; 1500-AM. More details here.