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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Gophers in strong position at Big Ten midway point + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: February 2, 2014 - 1:15 AM

There's a clear favorite atop the Big Ten Conference standings.

The Gophers’ 8-0-2-0 conference record has produced 26 points for a nine-point lead over second-place Michigan and 10-point lead over third-place Wisconsin.

Their unbeaten streak is 14 games, which includes sweeps against Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State.

The No. 1-ranked Gophers have yet to play ranked Michigan and will face a tough stretch in the second half of the conference schedule. Even a mediocre run, though, should put them in contention for the regular-season championship.

Six of their final 10 games will be played on the road at Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan.

Gophers forward Kyle Rau expects to be tested every night during this stretch.

“At the end of the year, all the games are close,” Rau said. “So that’s good we’ve got the resiliency.”

• Defenseman Ben Marshall showed resiliency in Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over Michigan State.

He was forced to sit out Friday with a one-game suspension, but returned in top form on Saturday. His presence played a big role in the Gophers’ shutout and 17 blocked shots.

“[Marshall] had a lot of jump tonight,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “We could play him a lot of minutes and the other guys just played every third shift. They didn’t have to play the amount of minutes they did last night. But I thought our forwards did a much better job tonight getting back and helping out the defensive zone.”

• The Gophers maintained the traveling Mariucci-Bessone trophy. The old trophy is awarded to the Gophers-Michigan State season series winner.

• The Gophers celebrated the 40th anniversary of its 1974 national championship team during Saturday night’s first intermission.

Many of the team's players and coaches returned for the ceremony. Dan Brooks, son of Hall of Fame coach Herb Brooks, attended on his father’s behalf.

The 1974 title run was the Gophers men’s hockey program’s first of five national championships.

• Read Saturday's 1-0 victory game story.

• Read Friday's shootout game story.

Postgame video

To view on mobile device, click “View on full website” at bottom of page.

Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox:

Gophers coach Don Lucia:


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