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 are nearly perfect when striking first.
Scoring the game’s first goal has produced a 12-0-4 record for the Gophers and led to 5-3 victory over Michigan on Friday night.
Being consistent in this area has been an issue for the Gophers, though. For most of the first half of the season they played from behind. That's beginning to wear on the No. 2-ranked team in college hockey.
“Last weekend, with Wisconsin, we got swept there and we’re not happy about that and trying to come back,” Gophers freshman forward Hudson Fasching said. “We had a lot of energy [on Friday] and were ready to go.”
A quick start will once again be important against the No. 2 Wolverines. The scouting report on Michigan recognized the Wolverines are used to winning the first 10 minutes of a game. On Friday night, though, it was just the opposite.
The Gophers dominated the first period and went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead and a 16-5 shots on goal advantage.
“The one thing when you play Michigan, they usually have a great 10-minute game to start out,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “They’ve been a great first period team all year long. We want to make sure we match that first-period energy and we were able to do that [on Friday]”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said his team didn’t start on time in the series opener and they were chasing the Gophers the first 20 minutes. Expect the Wolverines to change that on Saturday.
Read Friday's 5-3 Gophers' victory game story.
• Gophers Saturday 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
• SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 10 MICHIGAN AT NO. 2 GOPHERS
7:10 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: FSN, 1500-AM, BTN2Go.com
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.