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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St. Cloud State's standout senior forward Nic Dowd signed a pro contract two days after the Huskies' bid at back-to-back Frozen Four appearances fell short.
The Los Angeles Kings announced the one-year entry-level contract with Dowd on Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Dowd and the Huskies were held scoreless, 4-0, by the Gophers in Sunday's NCAA tournament West Regional championship game at Xcel Energy Center. However, Dowd's game-winning overtime goal against Notre Dame put St. Cloud State in position to play for the program's second Frozen Four berth.
The Hobey Baker Award finalist led the Huskies to a NCHC regular-season championship with 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) and 10 power-play goals in 38 games.
The seventh-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft had the opportunity to sign with the Kings after last season, but passed on the opportunity. I asked him about it last week and his response was praised by coach Bob Motzko.
"It wasn't a fact of what we had coming back and the possibility of winning another championship," Dowd said about why he returned for his senior year. "I think it was the team and the university, and my head coach, and my roommate that drew me back. Every year everything is different. We could have a great year, which we did. We could have a bad year. Regardless, if we had not made it back to this point I still would have been extremely happy that I came back to St. Cloud State. One of the biggest things I learned from seniors before me, is guys want to leave their mark on the program and you want to give back as much as the university, my coaching staff, and my teammates have given to me. It's almost like it's something bigger than yourself and playing at St. Cloud State has been the best four years of my life."
Other Minnesota/Big Ten signees:
- Minnesota-Duluth junior forward Caleb Herbert signed a two-year contract with the Washington Capitals.
- Michigan lost two to pro contracts -- junior forward Alex Guptill signed with the Dallas Stars and junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.
- Wisconsin senior forward Michael Mersch signed with the Los Angeles Kings.
• I was part of Tuesday's Frozen Four teleconference and surveyed the coaches and student-athletes about how a week off before teams head to Philadelphia can hurt momentum. Their responses and more online tonight/in Tuesday's print edition.