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’ victories at Xcel Energy Center this weekend were their first since 2012.
They played just one game at Xcel Energy Center last season and lost 2-1 to Colorado College in the WCHA Final Five. Gophers coach Don Lucia was happy to produce success in a building that will be a big part in their journey to the Frozen Four.
“There isn’t a better [facility] you get a chance to play in, certainly in college hockey. Anytime you get chance to play here I think that’s a good thing,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “I think we were disappointed we came here last year and lost the one game in the Final Five. It’s nice to get a win here. It’s been a while.”
It’s important the Gophers succeed at the X. The Big Ten Conference tournament and the NCAA West Regional will be held in St. Paul.
Their first tournament in the building this season ended on a high note, hoisting a championship cup.
For more on the North Star College Cup and the Gophers 2-0 shootout victory and 4-4 tie with Minnesota-Duluth, read Saturday's game story.
• It’s still early, but the Gophers are already guaranteed a winning season.
Their 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State on Friday night earned their 18th win with 12 games remaining in the final seven weeks of the regular season.
It’ll be the Gophers', currently 18-2-4, fourth consecutive winning season.
• Defenseman Mike Reilly quietly contributed two assists for the second straight night. He assisted two of the Gophers' power-play goals to increase his season assist total to 12.
Reilly is the Gophers fourth-best scorer with 20 points (eight goals).
• Minnesota-Duluth reaction after 2-0 shootout loss and 4-4 tie.
Caleb Herbert on North Star College Cup:
“It’s pretty special. Any time you get a chance to come down to the Cities – I’m from the Cities – so it was fun to play in front of the family and the friends. It’s cool to play the other Minnesota teams as well you might not get the chance during the year, like the Mankatos.
“I think it’s a cool tournament. I like the setup. So it should be fun a bit down the road coming back down here again.”
Coach Scott Sandelin:
“I thought both teams played hard and well. It probably deserved to maybe end in a tie, but it’s always tough to lose shootouts. It would have been nice to keep playing. I’ll give them credit – they capitalized on their shootout opportunities. Overall I think it was a great game and I’m proud of our team.”
Gophers postgame video:
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