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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It's Senior Day at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers five seniors - Nate Condon, Tom Serratore, Jake Parenteau, Justin Holl, Michael Shibrowski - will be in the home spotlight one final time.
The group will be honored before Saturday's 6 p.m. series finale with Penn State. The biggest honor, though, will likely be given to backup goaltender Shibrowski. Gophers coach Don Lucia said "There's a good chance" the senior would play.
If I had to guess, Shibrowski will start and stay in the net as long as he keeps the Gophers in the game. That shouldn't be a problem considering his last start. He shut out Minnesota State 3-0 on Nov. 17 in his only start of the season.
Serratore was in question for the senior sendoff after leaving Friday night's game in the first period. The move was just precautionary, though, and he's back in the lineup Saturday with the rest of his senior teammates.
The seniors got off to a hot start during their final weekend at home. Forward Nate Condon scored the Gophers' first shorthanded goal of the season and Jake Parenteau was plus-two in plus-minus category on Friday night.
Condon needs just three more points to reach the 100-point milestone.
Leading up to Saturday night's game, the seniors excitement spread around Twitter. Here's a look at some of their pregame comments:
Last go around at the ol Mariucci with the boys tonight! I feel honored to be a part of the M family. Let's end this on a high note! #gophs— Jake Parenteau (@jacobjames6) March 1, 2014
• Gophers freshman forward Michael Brodzinski will make his return on Saturday night. Brodzinski had been out one month with a lower-body injury and was cleared to play earlier this week.
Lucia said he would have to earn his way back into the lineup after the six healthy defensemen had been playing well together. Before Brodzinski was injured on Jan. 24 against St. Cloud State, he was a regular part of the Gophers' defensive core.
See Gophers Saturday night lines below.
• SERIES PREVIEW PENN STATE AT NO. 2 GOPHERS
8 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio: NBC Sports Network on Saturday; 107.1-FM on Saturday.
Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (22-4-5, 11-2-2 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
Ben Marshall, Michael Brodzinski
Goaltenders (doesn't reflect starter)
Adam Wilcox, Michael Shibrowski (likely starter, or will make an appearance), Ryan Coyne