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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Tom Serratore didn’t have to be told twice. The Gophers coaching staff informed the senior forward they needed more offensive contribution from him.
The everyday player had just one point, an assist, through nine games. Serratore hopes Saturday night changed this trend. He scored his first goal of the season late in the third period of a 3-0 victory over Minnesota State. The goal gave the Gophers a 2-0 cushion at the time.
“I had a little bit of a drought there. You like to get on the board here and there, so it obviously felt really good for me, that’s for sure,” Serratore said.
Coach Don Lucia thought Serratore’s effort on Saturday was his best of the season. He could see the pressure of producing beginning to wear on the fourth-line forward, but said he responded well in an important situation.
Lucia said Serratore had five scoring chances on Saturday and delivered some good hits.
“If you’re a forward in our lineup, the expectation is that we don’t need you to score every night, we need you to create some chances from an offensive standpoint,” Lucia sad. “With Tom, he does other things, killing penalties and playing physical and being hard to play against. … He’s been a very good complimentary player to our team.”
Part of Serratore’s Saturday success could have been result of center Travis Boyd rotating into the fourth line. Serratore, Boyd and Seth Ambroz skated together last season and developed good chemistry, Serratore said.
The group rekindled that connection again on Saturday and could see more time together this weekend.
“We got a few more shifts with [Boyd] in there at the end and I kind of felt that chemistry back from last year,” Serratore said. “So I could see that coming into this weekend or … we’ll battle through [any pairing] and try to do as well as we can.”
• In-state rival Minnesota-Duluth visits Mariucci Arena this weekend. The series will be split to Friday and Sunday because of a conflict with Saturday’s home Gophers football game. The previously scheduled Saturday 7 p.m. game has been moved to Sunday at 4 p.m.
• Video from Wednesday’s media access. Hear what Lucia has to say about the Gophers women's hockey's team impressive 62-game winning streak run. (To see videos on mobile devices, click on the view on full website link at the bottom of the page)
Gophers coach Don Lucia: