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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As the Gophers get ready to say goodbye to their seniors, they added to their future.
North American Hockey League standouts Nick Lehr and Robin Höglund announced their commitments to the Gophers earlier this week.
Lehr, a goaltender for the Austin Bruins and a Roseville product, will likely fill the void left by senior goaltender Michael Shibrowski.
Höglund, a forward for the Janseville Jets, could fill the role of Gophers senior forwards Nate Condon or Tom Serratore, pending their arrival at Mariucci Arena. Hoglund is from Moindal, Sweden, and is the second Swedish player to commit to the Gophers this season. Leon Bristedt committed in November.
The news of the new recruits comes just days before Senior Day at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers five seniors – Condon, Serratore, Shibrowski, Jake Parenteau, Justin Holl – will be honored before Saturday night’s game against Penn State.
• Despite being cleared to play, freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski wasn't in Friday's lineup. Coach Don Lucia said Brodzinski would have to earn his way back, but also said he would do everything possible to make sure the defenseman played this weekend.
Brodzinski had been out one month with a lower-body injury. See Gophers lines below.
• SERIES PREVIEW PENN STATE AT NO. 2 GOPHERS
8 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: BTN on Friday and NBC Sports Network on Saturday; 1500-AM on Friday and 107.1-FM on Saturday; BTN2Go.com on Friday.
Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (21-4-5, 10-2-2 Big Ten) are back to full strength with a seventh defenseman back in the mix. Freshman Michael Brodzinski returns after missing one month because of a lower-body injury. The focus this weekend, though, will be the Gophers’ five seniors. They’ll be honored before Saturday’s final game of the season at Mariucci Arena. Under their leadership, the Gophers are 14-1-3 at home this season.
For more on Penn State, read full series preview.
• 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
• Adam Wilcox was among 18 candidates announced for the inaugural Mike Richter Award honoring college hockey's top goaltender on Friday afternoon.
The Gophers sophomore goaltender has a record of 20-4-5 with a goals-against average of 1.97. Wilcox has three shutouts and a .931 save percentage.
The candidates combine for a 2.19 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage, and 3.12 grade-point average.
Minnesota Duluth's Aaron Crandall and St. Cloud State's Ryan Faragher are among the candidates. The Big Ten's Jake Hildebrand (Michigan State), Zach Nagelvoort (Michigan) and Joel Rumpel (Wisconsin) were also nominated by the 59 Division I men's hockey coaches.
For more on the nominees and a complete candidate list.