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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There was no celebration of the Big Ten Conference's hockey debut on Friday at Mariucci Arena.
For a conference that spent so much time planning and promoting, why go silent on the conference’s biggest stage in state of hockey?
The power of the fan overwhelmed the Big Ten in this instance. The concern of boos flooding any celebration of Big Ten hockey kept the conference in the background for opening night.
Big Ten associate commissioner Jennifer Heppel had hoped to take part in a ceremonial drop of the first puck. That didn’t happen. Nothing Big Ten-minded, but the game, took place.
Surprisingly, the Gophers were very excited about winning the conference’s first game. Several players and coach Don Lucia enjoyed the ability to claim the first win as their own.
A couple firsts the Gophers didn’t claim were first goal, assists, and first overtime victory.
Wisconsin’s Joseph LaBate scored the first goal. Jake McCabe and Mark Zengerle were credited for the first assists.
Michigan won the Big Ten’s first-ever overtime game. Andrew Copp scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over Ohio State.
Read Friday's game story from the Gophers 4-1 victory over Wisconsin (will be updated with quotes).
• Junior forward Sam Warning had his career-long 12-game point streak snapped on Friday night. Warning has cooled down after a hot start, but still leads the team in points with 19 (five goals, 14 assists).
• Taylor Cammarata is listed as day-to-day with back issues. The freshman forward missed Friday’s game with the injury after playing the first 12 games of his college career. Connor Reilly filled in well on the second line by scoring a goal.
• Former Gophers standout Erik Haula collected his first NHL assist on Friday night in the Wild’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
• The Gophers defense looked much-improved a week after giving up a season-high six goals to Minnesota Duluth. Defenseman Mike Reilly said the group was still bitter about that effort and a good week of practice helped fix the problem.
“We just kind of really tracked down in the [defensive] zone and got down to guys,” Reilly said. “I thought we had a great gap to not let as many shots get through and I think it worked out as we wanted.”
Post-game interview videos:
(To view on mobile devices click on "View on full website" link at the bottom of the page.)
Gophers defenseman Connor Reilly:
Gophers coach Don Lucia: