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 Gophers celebrated national signing day and their future by finally showing off their impressive freshmen class to the media on Wednesday. Forwards Hudson Fasching, Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata attempted to explain their early success and wisely gave much of the credit to the upperclassmen.
No matter what the freshmen said, though, the first month of the season showed they possess the tools to make an immediate impact at the college level.
Freshmen were responsible for all five goals in Saturday’s 5-4 win over Notre Dame. Fasching scored two goals. Cammarata scored a goal and assisted two. And Kloos and Jake Bischoff each scored a goal.
It’s safe to say the young group has lived up to expectations after eight games of the season and four weeks in the top spot in the polls.
“Those were the two biggest tests we’ve had so far,” Kloos said about Boston College and Notre Dame. “Friday nights of both series, we were maybe a little nervous. We got more comfortable by Saturday night and I think you could tell by both of the results of those games.”
The seven newcomers, eight including redshirt freshman Connor Reilly, was touted as one of the best in college hockey entering the season. They’ve more than lived up to the hype and set the bar high for next year’s incoming class.
(See Fasching speak to the media for the first time in the below video)
Though the Gophers couldn’t officially announce who signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, they confirmed four letters were sent out and a fifth could be on the way.
One can assume the four were signed by Jack Glover (U.S. National Development Program/Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Ryan Collins (U.S. National Development Program/Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Steve Johnson (Omaha Lancers, USHL/Minnetonka High School), and Jack Ramsey (Penticton Vees, BCHL/Minnetonka High School). Each of these recruits already verbally committed to the Gophers.
There was discussion that Ramsey might spend another year playing juniors, but he should be ready to make an impact for the 2014-20-15 Gophers.
Wednesday’s freshmen unveiling somewhat overshadowed this weekend’s opponent, Minnesota State. However, Gophers coach Don Lucia made sure to point out his team would have its hands full with the Mavericks. The in-state rival was picked to win the new-look Western College Hockey Association, but has started the season 4-4.
Lucia attributed Minnesota State's slow start to several injuries.
“Most their team returns from an NCAA tournament team a year ago. They have real good speed. Look real good on video. Starting goaltender is back, who had a terrific year [last season]. There’s a reason they were picked to win the WCHA,” Lucia said. “They had a great finish in the WCHA, last year. Veteran team. They’re old. And we’re going to have our hands full. … They’ve been very successful out here at Mariucci the last number of years. All of our games seem to be one-goal games or overtime games.”
The two teams have split the last 10 meetings, five wins apiece.
Gophers coach Don Lucia: