Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six 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 is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.
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The only Gophers hockey standout to have his jersey retired will be on display Friday night at Mariucci Arena.
Legendary John Mayasich will be part of a pregame ceremony honoring the Gophers long-standing history in the Winter Olympic Games. This year there are six hockey alumni competing in Sochi.
Mayasich will drop the ceremonial first puck at 8:04 p.m. The Star Tribune's Sid Hartman wrote a nice column about Mayasich in Friday's paper. Here's an excerpt:
On Friday night, the Gophers will honor the greatest hockey player without a doubt who ever put on the Maroon and Gold uniform in John Mayasich. He not only dominated high school hockey playing for Eveleth, sparking the Golden Bears to four state championships and a 69-0 record in his four years with the varsity, but went on to become one of the best collegiate players in history.
Mayasich, 80, will be on hand for a pregame program and then do a ceremonial puck drop before the Gophers’ game against Michigan.
Mayasich is still the Gophers’ career leading scorer with 144 goals and 298 points in 111 games over his four-year career from 1951-55. That gave Mayasich an astonishing 2.68 points-per-game average.
Still, the reason for the Gophers honoring him Friday isn’t his college career — he already is the only Gophers hockey player to have his jersey retired — but for his illustrious Olympic and international career with Team USA.
He was an eight-time member of the U.S. National Team, still a record, and he won an Olympic silver medal in 1956 and a gold medal in 1960.
Sid and Mayasich became close friends after his playing career. For more on their relationship and copy of a letter Mayasich wrote to Sid, read here.
• Coach Don Lucia has gone back to what worked for the Gophers. The top three lines returned to their original form with forward Tom Serratore back from a lower-body injury.
A lack of scoring likely led to the changes. They've scored just one goal in each of the past three games and have dropped to the seventh-best scoring team in the country.
With the lines back in their original form, it could help create more chemistry. See full lines below.
• SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 10 MICHIGAN AT NO. 2 GOPHERS
8:04 p.m. Friday, 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: BTN on Friday and FSN on Saturday; 1500-AM and BTN2Go.com both nights
Gophers at a glance: Losing back-to-back games is out of character for the Gophers (19-4-5, 8-2-2 Big Ten). Losing three in a row could signal problems. The Gophers will have to overcome Michigan, an old opponent many are hoping will become a huge Big Ten hockey rival. Offense has been a problem for the Gophers in February. They’ve scored just five goals in four games. They hope the probable return of senior forward Tom Serratore will create a spark.
For more on Michigan, read full series preview.
• Read Friday’s feature: Parenteau overcome broke leg to return for second half of Big Ten play + video.
• Gophers Friday lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Kyle Rau, Hudson Fasching
Nate Condon, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata
Tom Serratore, Travis Boyd, Seth Ambroz
Connor Reilly, Gabe Guertler, Vinni Lettieri
Defensemen (left, right)
Brady Skjei, Justin Holl
Mike Reilly, Jake Parenteau
Jake Bischoff, Ben Marshall
Adam Wilcox, Michael Shibrowski, Ryan Coyne