Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six 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 is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.

Follow Jason on Twitter @JGonStrib

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Three Gophers on All-America team; Gaudreau wins Hobey Baker

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 11, 2014 - 5:30 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Three Gophers have been named to the American Hockey Coaches Association's West All-America team.

Sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly is on the first team. Junior co-captain forward Kyle Rau was named to the second team along with sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox.

The complete teams are here.

Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau, who led the nation in goals and assists, won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player.

Wilcox was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and inaugural Mike Richter Award honoring the top goaltender. UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was selected at the Mike Richter Award winner Friday afternoon. 

Rau carries load on big stage once again + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 11, 2014 - 2:28 AM

PHILADELPHIA — Gophers junior co-captain Kyle Rau was relentless in Thursday night's 2-1 Frozen Four semifinal victory over North Dakota.

Though he didn't a score a goal in one of his five shots on goal, he had a hand in both of the Gophers' third-period goals. He set up Sam Warning's goal midway through the period and was credited for the assist on Holl's game-winner.

"A lot of momentum shifts in that game and almost every time the momentum came back to our side 'cause [Rau] was down there making plays," Gophers freshmen forward Hudson Fasching said. "A lot of credit goes to him."

Fasching and Warning have played on the first line with Rau throughout most of the season.

Rau also had a big presence in the Gophers' defensive zone by clearing out several shots and maintaining a physical edge in front of goaltender Adam Wilcox.

It was Rau's second multi-point effort in the NCAA tournament with five points in three games.

-Read Thursday's 2-1 Frozen Four semifinal victory game story.
-Read columnists Chip Scoggins' account of the new addition to the Gophers-North Dakota rivalry.
-Read Union's 5-4 victory over Boston College game story.
-See lots of postgame video below.

Tidbits from the Gophers-North Dakota Frozen Four semifinal:

General Notes
-Attendance for the semifinals was 17,311.

-Tonight’s second semifinal game was scoreless through the first two periods. The only time a national semifinal game finished with a 1-0 score was on March 16, 1967, with Cornell defeating North Dakota 1-0 (Syracuse). The only other 1-0 score in Frozen Four history occurred on April 10, 2004, when Denver defeated Maine, 1-0, in the national championship (Boston). There has never been a semifinal or championship that has been scoreless through regulation.

-This was the fifth meeting between North Dakota and Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota now holds the tournament series advantage, 3-2.

-The time of the game-winning goal for Minnesota was 19:59.4 of the third period, and was scored by Justin Holl, his first goal of the year. It was his eighth career goal, and first goal in NCAA Tournament play. His last goal came on 3/9/2013 at Bemidji State, a span of 42 games.

Gophers Note
Sam Warning of Minnesota opened the scoring in the game at 10:51 of the third period, his first career NCAA Tournament tally. Warning had an assist in the Gophers’ 7-3 victory over Robert Morris in the West Region Semifinals on March 29, and now has four career NCAA Tournament points (1-3-4). Two of his three assists came during the 2012 NCAA Tournament.Kyle Rau assisted on both Gopher goals this evening, pushing his team-leading point total to 39 with his 25th assist of the season, also a team-high. Rau has recorded a point in each of his last four games, one shy of his season-best streak of five, which occurred from Nov. 16 through Nov. 30 of 2013 (2-5-7). Rau’s current streak has amassed six points (3-3-6). The second assist gave Rau, a junior, his third consecutive season with 25 assists. It was his fourth multi-assist game of the year.

-Rau has recorded a point in six of his seven NCAA Tournament appearances (3-8-11), as he was held scoreless against Boston College during the 2012 national semifinals.

North Dakota Notes
-Forward Connor Gaarder netted his second goal of the 2014 NCAA Tournament with North Dakota’s first goal of the game at 11:23 of the third period. Gaarder’s two tallies are the junior’s first in NCAA Tournament play. He accounted for the game-winning goal in North Dakota’s 2-1 victory over Ferris State in the Midwest Region Final. Gaarder’s nine goals on the year are more than double his combined total from his first two seasons at North Dakota (8).

-Assisting on Gaarder’s goal for North Dakota were Dillon Simpson and Jordan Schmaltz. The assists were the first points of the 2014 Tournament for the two defensemen.

Gophers Frozen Four postgame video
To view on mobile device, click “View on full site” at bottom of page.

Gophers press conference/senior defenseman Justin Holl:

Gophers junior forward Sam Warning:

Gophers senior forward Nate Condon:

Gophers freshman forward Hudson Fasching:

Brodzinski's blue-line offense too good to pass up in Frozen Four

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 10, 2014 - 6:21 PM

The sixth spot on the Gophers’ defense goes to … Michael Brodzinski.

Brodzinski will skate with Gophers junior defenseman Ben Marshall in Thursday night’s Frozen Four semifinal against North Dakota.

It’s hard to argue with that decision after the weekend Brodzinski had in the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago in St. Paul. He scored a goal and an assist in Friday’s 7-3 victory over Robert Morris University, and helped hold St. Cloud State scoreless in the regional final.

The decision wasn’t so easy, though. Fellow freshman defensemen Jake Bischoff played 17 straight games through the middle of the season while the defensive core battled through several injuries. Once Brodzinski returned from a month-long lower-body injury, the two began to split time.

That changed when the Gophers were in need of more offense heading into the NCAA tournament. Brodzinski is a more offensive-minded defenseman and reminded the coaching staff of that in the regional opener. The sixth spot has been his since.

Gophers coach Don Lucia said the weeks of practice leading up to the Frozen Four would dictate who would earn the sixth spot on the blue line, but Bischoff saw the writing on the wall.

“After [the regional], obviously he’s going to be the one in, but we battled hard all week,” Bischoff said trying to keep a positive attitude. “I want to be ready if something does happen where I’m forced to be in the lineup. I want to do whatever I can to contribute to the team.”

• The upperclassmen’s message to the freshmen – don’t settle for being at the Frozen Four.

The Gophers’ veterans were victim of a settling mindset two years again in Tampa Bay and it showed by their one-sided loss in the national semifinal. A second trip to the Frozen Four in the last three seasons has been result of a much different approach.

“One thing we were telling the freshmen is not to just be happy that you’re here, ‘cause two years ago I think our team was just happy that we got to be in Tampa and at the Frozen Four, but this year we’ve got a different mindset and we’re trying to push that on the younger guys.”

North Dakota vs. Gophers: 7:30 p.m., ESPN2 (1500-AM)

Gophers' semifinal 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

Adam Wilcox, Michael Shibrowski

North Dakota's semifinal lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Drake Caggiula, Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks
Stephane Pattyn, Rocco Grimaldi, Luke Johnson
Brendan O'Donnell, Connor Gaarder, Derek Rodwell
Bryn Chyzyk, Colten St. Clair, Andrew Panzarella

Defensemen (left, right)
Dillon Simpson, Jordan Schmaltz
Nick Mattson, Paul LaDue
Keaton Thompson, Troy Stecher

Zane Gothberg, Clarke Saunders


Record: 25-13-3 Conference: NCHC Coach: Dave Hakstol, 258-132-40, 10th season at North Dakota

Midwest Regional results: def. Wisconsin 5-2, def. Ferris State 2-1 (2OT)

Overview: North Dakota is comfortable on this stage with the most NCAA titles of anyone in the field, but it is just thankful to be here this year. The group stumbled throughout stretches of the season and again late in the year with conference regular-season and tournament titles on the line. However, UND was the last team in the NCAA tournament and has regrouped for a run to face its rival in the national semifinals. Goaltender Zane Gothberg is coming off a career-best 44 saves against Ferris State. Rocco Grimaldi (17-22—39) leads a balanced scoring attack.


Record: 27-6-6 Conference: Big Ten Coach: Don Lucia, 371-190-65, 15th season at Minnesota

West Regional results: def. Robert Morris 7-3, def. St. Cloud State 4-0

Overview: The Gophers are peaking at the right time. Though they’ve been ranked No. 1 for most of the season, it wasn’t until the West Regional final that everything looked and felt on point to them. Goalie Adam Wilcox said the victory over St. Cloud State was the best he has seen the team play in his two years with the U. Wilcox and the defense continue to be the backbone of the Gophers’ success. The upperclassmen forwards sparked an 11-goal output in the regional. If they can continue this trend, the Gophers will be tough to beat. Junior Kyle Rau (14-23—37) is the team’s leading scorer.

Frozen Four complete breakdown, including previews of Boston College and Union.

Extra reading from the Frozen Four

North Dakota-Gophers rivalry returns on biggest stage
• Team defense foundation for Gophers this season
• Frozen Four notebook.
• From our columnist Chip Scoggins: Lucia changing recruiting game plan.
• Gophers Frozen Four video.

Osiecki named U.S. Junior National Team coach

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: April 9, 2014 - 11:04 AM

Mark Osiecki will be coach of the U.S. junior national hockey team this year.

The Burnsville native is a three-time assistant coach for the team, including when it won gold medals in 2010 and 2013.

The tournament is Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Montreal and Toronto. Gophers coach Don Lucia led the team last year, when it finished fifth.

"I'm thrilled to accept the role of head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team," said Osiecki in a released statement. "Each time I've been on the Team USA staff it's been an extremely rewarding experience. I will incorporate a lot of what I learned from Phil Housley, Keith Allain and Dean Blais at previous tournaments, as well as what I gained from Mike Eaves at Wisconsin. We have great emerging young talent across the country and I can't wait to start working with them in Lake Placid this August."

Osiecki is an assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. He was fired as Ohio State hockey coach after the 2012-13 season. He has been an assistant at his alma mater, Wisconsin, and also coached in the U.S. Hockey League.

Assistant coaches will be U.S. national development team coach Don Granato, Vermont assistant Kevin Patrick and goalie coach Mike Ayers.

Osiecki was a standout defenseman at Burnsville High School, where he played for his father, Tom; and later was an alternate captain at Wisconsin. He played two seasons in the NHL.

The U.S. junior team is selected in November. There is an August camp for the pool of candidates.

Two Gophers -- sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei and freshman forward Hudson Fasching -- played on last year's team under Lucia.

Robertson named WCHA commissioner

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: April 8, 2014 - 1:08 PM

Bill Robertson, who helped the Minnesota Wild start from scratch as an NHL franchise, is the new commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Robertson, 53, succeeds Bruce McLeod, who retired after 20 seasons with the league.

“I am excited about this wonderful opportunity to help lead and guide the WCHA for many years to come,” Robetsons said in a news release. “It is truly an honor to serve this iconic sports and collegiate hockey conference, while showcasing some of the top student-athletes and institutions in the country.”

Robertson was Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting for the Wild from 1999-2011. He also has worked for the Anaheim Angels, the Mighty Ducks and the Timberwolves. He is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton.

The WCHA saw a major shakeup before last season when Minnesota and Wisconsin left to join the Big Ten, and other WCHA and Central Collegiate Hockey Association teams helped form the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The remaining teams from the WCHA and the CCHA re-formed the 10-team WCHA, which now includes Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Alabama Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska (Fairbanks), Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.



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