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 survived a unique week.
Four games in seven days, only two days to prepare for a new opponent, and a game played outdoors appeared to have no effect on the No. 1 team.
The Gophers swept Penn State on Sunday-Monday on the road, and returned home for a Friday-Saturday sweep of Ohio State.
They overcame frigid temperatures in the outdoor Hockey City Classic and shook off the quick turnaround for Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday.
Maybe, now, Lucia is starting to believe his team is worthy of college hockey's No. 1 ranking.
“I’m pleased with the week we had,” Lucia said. “To go to Penn State and win the two games, short rest getting ready for Ohio state, having the emotion of the outdoor game last night, and being able to come back three hours earlier than normal after an eight o’clock start last night and get another win. So great week for us.”
The offensive contribution from Gophers veterans made it an even better week.
Kyle Rau assisted a goal in Friday night’s 1-0 victory. Sam Warning scored three goals in Saturday night’s 4-2 win. Nate Condon had two assists. Seth Ambroz scored a goal.
This sort of contribution will be necessary if the Gophers hope to make a deep run in the postseason.
Saturday night’s Hockey Day Minnesota game story.
Friday night’s Hockey City Classic game story.
• Don Lucia said the Gophers continue to be inspired by paralyzed hockey player Jack Jablonski. He hung out with the Gophers after Friday’s Hockey City Classic.
“It’s great” spending time with him, Lucia said. “It’s just great to see the progress he’s made from where he was when I first saw him in the hospital a few years back. He’s got a great attitude and I think he’s a great inspiration for all of us.
Gophers forward Sam Warning on his hat trick:
Gophers coach Don Lucia: