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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Gophers pick up verbal commitment from Luverne's young hockey star Jaxon Nelson

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 17, 2015 - 5:10 PM

Luverne High School’s freshman forward standout Jaxon Nelson verbally committed to play college hockey for the Gophers on Thursday.

Nelson, born in 2000, is already 6-1, 180 pounds and scored 91 points (44 goals, 47 assists) in 28 games as a ninth-grader at the small high school in the southwest corner of Minnesota. As an eighth-grader, he scored 74 points while leading Luverne to its first state tournament appearance.

It’ll be a while before Gophers fans see Nelson in the maroon and gold on the ice at Mariucci Arena. His first college hockey season will likely be 2018-2019. He’s the first player from Luverne to earn a Division 1 hockey scholarship.
 


Here’s a list of the Gophers’ recruits courtesy of gopherhockeyhistory.com:

Verbal

Baker, Tarek

F

Bloomington Thunder (USHL)

Verbal

Edquist, Ryan

G

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Verbal

Fällström, William

F

Djurgården U18

Signed

Gates Jr., Brent

C

Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Signed

Halladay, Logan

G

Bloomington Thunder (USHL)

Verbal

Hults, Mitch

W

Madison Capitals (USHL)

Verbal

Lindgren, Ryan

D

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Verbal

Maniscalco, Josh

D

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Verbal

McManus, Brannon

F

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Verbal

Mittelstadt, Casey

F

Eden Prairie HS

Signed

Norman, Ryan

F

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Signed

Novak, Tom

F

St. Thomas Academy

Verbal

Pitlick, Rem

F

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Signed

Ramsey, Jack

W

Penticton Vees (BCHL)

Verbal

Reedy, Scott

F

Shattuck-St. Mary School

Signed

Romanko, Darian

F

Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)

Verbal

Rossini, Sam

D

Burnsville HS

Signed

Sadek, Jack

D

Lakeville North HS

Signed

Schierhorn, Eric

G

Muckegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Signed

Sheehy, Tyler

RW

Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

Verbal

Wait, Garrett

F

Edina HS

Verbal

Zuhlsdorf, Ryan

D

Edina HS

Gophers hockey adds to incoming talent on spring national signing day

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 15, 2015 - 6:12 PM

Three Gophers’ recruits signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday’s spring national signing day, signaling the start of the coaching staff's large task of filling the holes left behind from the departure of nine key figures.

Forwards Brent Gates Jr. and Darian Romanko, and goaltender Eric Schierhorn each signed on Wednesday, with Gates and Romanko celebrating the day on Twitter (see below). Forward Mitch Hults is expected to sign and complete the class.

The Gophers have yet to officially announce the spring signings.

They signed six recruits in the fall – forwards Ryan Norman, Tommy Novak, Jack Ramsey and Tyler Sheehy, defenseman Jack Sadek and goaltender Logan Halladay – bringing the total of potential incoming freshman to 10.

Don’t expect all 10 to be on campus next fall. The coaching staff still has to sort through their needs after losing six contributing seniors and three junior standouts in goaltender Adam Wilcox and defensemen Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei.

In total, they lost five forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender. The chances of suffering more early departures are slim, but forward Hudson Fasching has been labeled ready to make the jump to professional hockey.

The Gophers currently have two goaltenders, Nick Lehr and Ryan Coyne, on the roster and most likely will carry only three goalies. Defenseman Nick Seeler will be eligible to return to the ice next season after sitting out a year result of his transfer from Nebraska Omaha.

• The Columbus Blue Jackets said the ball is Mike Reilly's court as they await his decision to sign with the organization or become a free agent on June 1. Hear what Blue Jacket’s president of hockey operations John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen had to say about their pursuit of the Gophers' All-America standout defenseman.
 

Mike Reilly picks up All-USCHO honors, officially named to U.S. men's national team

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 14, 2015 - 4:59 PM

Mike Reilly picked up another accolade for his already decorated college hockey career on Tuesday. The Gophers former defenseman was named to the All-USCHO Second Team just days after being named a First Team All-America standout by the American Hockey Coaches Association.

The Chanhassen, Minn., native was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, a Hobey Baker Award top 10 finalist, earned back-to-back First Team All-America honors and now adds a second All-USCHO honor to his resume after a standout junior season.

Reilly set career highs with 42 points and 36 assists to lead all college hockey defensemen in scoring this season. His 42 points are most by a Gophers defenseman since Jordan Leopold scored 48 in 2001-2002, and he's the first defenseman to lead the team in scoring since Mike Crowley in 1996-1997. He led the nation in power-play assists (19) and had the nation's eighth-best plus-minus rating of plus-25. 

North Dakota junior goaltender and Thief River Falls, Minn., native Zane McIntyre also earned All-USCHO Second Team honors. Minnesota State junior forward Bryce Gervais was named to the Third Team.

Reilly was also officially announced among the first 16 players named to the 2015 U.S. men’s national team on Tuesday. He’s one of five players on the team that have won gold medals in different roles playing with USA Hockey and is one of four collegiate standouts on the current roster with Michigan product Dylan Larkin, Yale goaltender Alex Lyon and Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey.

Lyon (Baudette) and Reilly (Chanhassen) are among six Minnesotans, including Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Carolina Hurricanes), Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Toronto Maple Leafs), Matt Hendricks (Blaine, Edmonton Oilers) and Dan Sexton (Apple Valley, KHL), selected to represent their country at the World Championships in the Czech Republic in May.

Reilly announced he would forego his senior season and turn pro this offseason, though he has yet to sign a professional contract.  
 

All-USCHO Team

First team
Forward Jack Eichel, Boston University freshman
Forward Tanner Kero, Michigan Tech senior
Forward Jimmy Vesey, Harvard junior
Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Boston University junior
Defenseman Joey LaLeggia, Denver senior
Goaltender Jon Gillies, Providence junior

Second team
Forward Daniel Ciampini, Union senior
Forward Matt Garbowsky, Rochester Institute of Technology senior
Forward Zach Hyman, Michigan senior
Defenseman Mike Paliotta, Vermont senior
Defenseman Mike Reilly, Minnesota junior
Goaltender Zane McIntyre, North Dakota junior

Third team
Forward Sam Anas, Quinnipiac sophomore
Forward Bryce Gervais, Minnesota State junior
Forward Evan Rodrigues, Boston University senior
Defenseman Rob O’Gara, Yale
Defenseman Robbie Russo, Notre Dame senior
Goaltender Ryan Massa, Omaha senior
 

U.S. men's national team roster

Name, Position

Most Recent Team

Hometown

Team USA Experience

Mark Arcobello, F

Arizona Coyotes

Milford, Conn.

Debut

Justin Faulk*, D

Carolina Hurricanes

South St. Paul, Minn.

U.S. Olympic Men's Team (2014)
U.S. Men's National Team (2012-13)
U.S. National Junior Team (2011)
U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team (2010) U.S. Under-17 Select Team (2008)

Jake Gardiner, D

Toronto Maple Leafs

Minnetonka, Minn.

U.S. Men's National Team (2014)
U.S. National Junior Team (2010)
U.S. Under-18 Select Team (2007)

Matt Hendricks, F

Edmonton Oilers

Blaine, Minn.

Debut

Torey Krug, D

Boston Bruins

Livonia, Mich.

Debut

Dylan Larkin*, F

University of Michigan

Waterford, Mich.

U.S. National Junior Team (2015)
U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team (2014)

Trevor Lewis, F

Los Angeles Kings

Salt Lake City, Utah

U.S. National Junior Team (2007)

Alex Lyon, G

Yale University

Baudette, Minn.

Debut

John Moore, D

Arizona Coyotes

Winnetka, Ill.

U.S. Junior Select Team (2008)

Jeremy Morin*, F

Columbus Blue Jackets

Auburn, N.Y.

U.S. National Junior Team (2010-11)
U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team (2008-09)
U.S. National Under-17 Team (2008)

Steve Moses, F

Jokerit (KHL)

Leominster, Mass.

Deutschland Cup (2013)

Connor Murphy*, D

Arizona Coyotes

Dublin, Ohio

U.S. Men's National Team (2014)
U.S. National Junior Team (2013)
U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team (2011) U.S. Under-18 Select Team (2010)
U.S. Under-17 Select Team (2009)

Mike Reilly, D

University of Minnesota

Chanhassen, Minn.

U.S. National Junior Team (2013)
U.S. Junior Select Team (2011)

Dan Sexton, F

Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik (KHL)

Apple Valley, Minn.

Deutschland Cup (2013)

Ben Smith, F

San Jose Sharks

Avon, Conn.

U.S. Under-18 Select Team (2005)
U.S. Under-17 Select Team (2004)

* played with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program

Gophers ranked 12th in final college hockey poll; former standout Todd Richards to coach U.S. men's national team

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 13, 2015 - 3:19 PM

The preseason No. 1-ranked Gophers finished 12th in the final USCHO college hockey poll of the season released on Monday afternoon.

Providence is No. 1 after winning the national championship on Saturday night with a 4-3 win over Boston University. The Friars entered the NCAA tournament ranked 15th and were the last team to earn a spot in the 16-team field.

The Gophers are arguably responsible for clearing the way for Providence’s tournament run. Their 4-2 victory over Michigan in the Big Ten tournament title game kept the Wolverines from claiming an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament and left the last spot open for the Friars to pursue their first national championship.

Boston University, North Dakota, Nebraska Omaha and Denver round out the USCHO top five.

Minnesota Duluth closes out the season as the state’s highest ranked program at No. 6 after losing to Boston University in the Northeast Region final. Minnesota State, the NCAA tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, finished No. 7 after being upset in the first round by No. 16-seed RIT. St. Cloud State is No. 10 following its loss to North Dakota in the West Region title game.

Michigan is ranked 20th despite missing the NCAA tournament for a third straight year following 22 consecutive appearances. Michigan State received votes.

The Gophers held the No. 1 ranking for the first five weeks of the season before a steady decline that pushed them out of the USCHO poll for the first time since April 2011. Their late-season rally eventually earned a spot back in the top 10 and Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament championships.

However, the run ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament after a 4-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth. Complete USCHO poll.

• Former Gophers All-America standout and current Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was named the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team for the IIHF World Championships next month in the Czech Republic.

Richards is the Gophers’ all-time top-scoring defenseman with 158 points and helped lead his team to four consecutive Frozen Four appearances from 1986-1989. The Crystal, Minn., native is wrapping up his third winning season as head coach of the Blue Jackets, though, they’ve only made the playoffs once under his leadership. He was the head coach of the Wild for two seasons (2009-2011).

Mike Reilly, the Gophers most recent All-America standout that declared he’ll turn pro and forego his senior season of college hockey, will play for Team USA and Richards at the World Championships. The Blue Jackets own Reilly’s draft rights until June 1 and have spent the last several weeks trying to convince the defenseman to sign. If Reilly doesn’t sign with Columbus by June 1, he’ll become a free agent.  

Gophers' standout Mike Reilly earns back-to-back First Team All-America honors

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 10, 2015 - 5:29 PM

Mike Reilly became the first Gophers hockey standout to earn back-to-back First Team All-America honors in more than a decade on Friday afternoon. The junior was one of six defensemen selected to the First Team just days after telling the Star Tribune he won't return for his senior year of college hockey.

He was the only All-America selection this season to win back-to-back honors. Jordan Leopold last achieved this feat for the Gophers in 2001 and 2002.

Three other Minnesotans earned All-America status. Yale goaltender Alex Lyon (Baudette, Minn.) was a First Team selection, and North Dakota goalie Zane McIntyre (Thief River Falls, Minn.) and Minnesota State defenseman Zach Palmquist (South St. Paul) were named to the Second Team. Minnesota State's Matt Leitner (Los Alamitos, Calif.) was a First Team selection.

Reilly set career highs with 42 points and 36 assists to lead all college hockey defensemen in scoring this season. His 42 points are most by a Gophers defenseman since Leopold scored 48 in 2001-2002, and he's the first defenseman to lead the team in scoring since Mike Crowley in 1996-1997. He led the nation in power-play assists (19) and had the nation's eighth-best plus-minus rating of plus-25. 

Reilly's standout season also earned him back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and a spot among the Hobey Baker Award top 10 finalists. He's the seventh player in Gophers men's hockey history to earn multiple All-America honors. 

The Big Ten earned four All-America spots including Reilly's. Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand and Michigan forward Zach Hyman were also First Team selections, and Michigan forward Dylan Larkin was Second Team. Complete list of All-America honors.

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