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.

Follow Jason on Twitter @JGonStrib

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Postgame: Senior class pulls Gophers out of rut; video of last-minute brawl

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 17, 2015 - 10:40 PM

This time, shots go in as Gophers bounce back, top Badgers in series finale, read Saturday night's game story.
 

The Gophers desperately needed a pick-me-up and it was the seniors that would eventually provide the boost of confidence. Four of the five goals scored in Saturday's 5-2 victory over Wisconsin were scored by the senior class. 

Travis Boyd contributed two goals and an assist, Sam Warning had a goal and assist, and Christian Isackson scored his first goal of the season. Kyle Rau, Seth Ambroz and Ben Marshall played a big role in the Gophers' physical effort, which made a big statement in the last-minute scrum that included everyone on the ice.

"Being a senior you gotta step up and be a leader, and I thought all together the senior class had a good game tonight," Boyd said. "Christian Isackson had a goal, Sam played well, Kyle always brings it, Ambroz was good and Marsh was good, too. Overall as a senior class, I thought that we all had good games tonight and that was part of the reason we had a good result." 

Coach Don Lucia was pleased to see the leadership get rewarded for the consistent offensive pressure it produced throughout the weekend. The Gophers totaled 99 shots on goal in two games, leading to the team's first win since Jan. 3.

"We needed one," Lucia said. "Even last night I thought we played well other than a couple instances that ended up costing us, and tonight we got rewarded with some goals and that was really the difference." 

Saturday’s box score.

Here's a look at the last-minute brawl:

Postgame video
(To view on mobile devices, click on player's/coach's name)

Gophers sophomore forward Connor Reilly

Gophers senior forward Travis Boyd

Gophers coach Don Lucia


 

Friday replay: Despite 49 shots, Gophers can muster only a tie with lowly Badgers and suffer shootout loss, read Friday night's game story and postgame blog with Wisconsin reaction. Watch postgame video of senior forward Travis Boyd, coach Don Lucia, and Wisconsin sophomore forward and former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Grant Besse.

Pregame: Rivalry series adds to Gophers' part in Hockey Day Minnesota

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 17, 2015 - 3:37 PM

The state of Minnesota's annual hockey showcase will benefit from the well-scheduled Gophers-Badgers border rivalry at 5 p.m. on FSN. 

It's the first time the rivals have met on Hockey Day Minnesota and it will showcase several former Hockey Day Minnesota high school participants. 

Wisconsin's Grant Besse (Benilde-St. Margaret's) and Kevin Schulze (Hill-Murray), and the Gophers' Kyle Rau (Eden Prairie) and Jake Bischoff (Grand Rapids) are among the select group to play outdoors while in high school. 

"It's a little bigger stage. You've got probably a little more people watching the game than normal," said Brady Skjei, the Gophers junior defenseman from Lakeville North. "It's a fun day. It's fun watching the high school guys go out and play on outdoor ponds and then our game at 5 p.m. and the Wild at night, so it's a great day and it's fun to watch." 

The Gophers are 5-2-1 on Hockey Day and are eager for another victory after Friday's letdown. The quick turnaround from last night's late 11 p.m. finish to Saturday's early 5 p.m. start could be a good thing for Don Lucia's club as they try to forget about their recent trend of setbacks. 

Friday replay: Despite 49 shots, Gophers can muster only a tie with lowly Badgers and suffer shootout loss, read Friday night's game story and postgame blog with Wisconsin reaction. Watch postgame video of senior forward Travis Boyd, coach Don Lucia, and Wisconsin sophomore forward and former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Grant Besse.

• Gophers Saturday lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Travis Boyd, Hudson Fasching
Kyle Rau, Justin Kloos, Connor Reilly
Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, Seth Ambroz
A.J. Michaelson, Christian Isackson, Leon Bristedt

Defensemen (left, right)
Michael Brodzinski,Mike Reilly
Brady Skjei, Ryan Collins
Jake Bischoff, Ben Marshall

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox, Nick Lehr, Ryan Coyne

• Minnesotans in Wisconsin's lineup
Joseph Labate, Sr. forward, Eagan
Grant Besse, Soph. forward, Plymouth
Eddie Wittchow, Jr. defenseman, Burnsville
Jack Dougherty, Fr. defenseman, Cottage Grove
Kevin Schulze, Jr. defenseman, White Bear Lake

• SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 16 GOPHERS VS. WISCONSIN

5 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: FSN; 1500-AM; BTN2Go

Gophers at a glance: The situation continues to get worse at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers (10-7-2 overall, 1-2-1-0 Big Ten) have won three of their last 11 games and are coming off three consecutive losses entering Hockey Day. Read the full series preview.

My feature this week relives the long journey Connor Reilly has overcome -- two knee surgeries and 19 months away from hockey -- to become the Gophers' leading goal-scorer. Check out video of forward Seth Ambroz, defenseman Brady Skjei and coach Don Lucia previewing the Border Battle. 

Postgame: Gophers' inability to close out games becoming a concern + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 17, 2015 - 12:56 AM

Despite 49 shots, Gophers can muster only a tie with lowly Badgers and suffer shootout loss, read Friday night's game story.

A couple quick thoughts and some video before we're back for an early 5 p.m. start on Hockey Day Minnesota:

Gophers struggling to finish the job

Back-to-back Fridays have ended poorly for the Gophers despite taking leads into the third period. The Gophers gave up a late goal at Michigan and eventually lost in overtime a week ago. The problem followed them home to Mariucci Arena where a 2-0 cushion disappeared in a span of two minutes late in the third period against rival Wisconsin. 

They salvaged a tie, but failed in a shootout once again. Senior forward Travis Boyd said it's embarrassing to let up the same way they did at Michigan. You can hear more from him about the growing problem in the game story and below video. 

Is Wisconsin really that bad?

The Badgers were undoubtedly one of the worst teams in college hockey through the first half of the season. The young team might have grown up over winter break, though. Since Jan. 1, they are 1-2-2 with three positive outings against highly ranking opponents -- Michigan Tech, Boston University and Minnesota. Here's what senior goaltender Joel Rumpel and coach Mike Eaves have to say about the improving circumstances. Hear from former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Grant Besse in the below video.

"We've been getting better every weekend," Rumpel said. "We have a little bit of setback, but then we come back and play a game like that. It's nice to be able to know we can beat some of the top teams in the league."

"It's interesting, you look at our record, if you were to be at our rink and come down to our locker room and watch us practice, there is great energy. The guys know that their growing," Eaves said. "The results aren't there yet, but they're going in the right direction and this is another bump for us in terms of energy and to keep going."

Friday’s box score.

Postgame video
(To view on mobile devices, click on player's/coach's name)

Gophers senior forward Travis Boyd

Gophers coach Don Lucia

Wisconsin sophomore forward and former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Grant Besse

Pregame: Gophers-Badgers hockey Border Battle features two teams desperate for wins

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 16, 2015 - 6:39 PM

Traditional Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry weekends are for bragging rights and positioning in the college hockey polls.Good teams play to a good finish and all is as it should be.

This weekend at Mariucci Arena the rivalry has an unusual undertone -- both teams are desperate for wins. The Gophers have won just three of their last 10 games and have continued to tumble from No. 1 to No. 16 in the USCHO poll. Wisconsin has only won two games this season and will take any bit of success it can get. 

It's quite the contrast from last year's Gophers and Badgers teams. Minnesota won the Big Ten regular-season championship, Wisconsin won the Big Ten tournament and each entered the NCAA tournament as the top seed for their region. Each team swept the other in the regular season with three games determined by one goal.

It's unclear what result we'll see this weekend with both teams so inconsistent throughout the first half of the season.

"Obviously went want to get back on track and we need to this weekend," Gophers senior forward Seth Ambroz said. "Obviously they'll be coming with a big rivalry, so it will be a good series and we do need to take a step forward this weekend as a team."

Gophers coach Don Lucia is hoping a significant lineup shakeup will help the team take a step forward. All four lines of forwards are new combinations for the season with Sam Warning, Travis Boyd and Hudson Fasching leading as the top line.

Sophomore defenseman Michael Brodzinski isn't in the lineup after nursing an injury throughout the week. He did practice and could return on Saturday.

My feature this week relives the long journey Connor Reilly has overcome -- two knee surgeries and 19 months away from hockey -- to become the Gophers' leading goal-scorer. Check out video of forward Seth Ambroz, defenseman Brady Skjei and coach Don Lucia previewing the Border Battle. 

• SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 16 GOPHERS VS. WISCONSIN

8:10 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: BTN on Friday and FSN on Saturday; 1500-AM both nights; BTN2Go both nights

Gophers at a glance: The situation continues to get worse at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers (10-7-1 overall, 1-2-1-0 Big Ten) have three of their last 10 games and are coming off a pair of losses at Michigan – the second time they’ve been swept this season. Despite having a healthy and full roster last weekend, the Gophers’ defense failed to keep up with the Wolverines’ top-end scorers and gave up 11 goals in two games and saw goaltender Adam Wilcox pulled from a game for just the second time in his career. Things need to change, which is why coach Don Lucia spent the week reshuffling line combinations in hope it will re-energize the bunch. 

For more on Wisconsin read the full series preview.

• Gophers Friday lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Sam Warning, Travis Boyd, Hudson Fasching
Kyle Rau, Justin Kloos, Connor Reilly
Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, Seth Ambroz
A.J. Michaelson, Christian Isackson, Leon Bristedt

Defensemen (left, right)
Steve Johnson,Mike Reilly
Brady Skjei, Ryan Collins
Jake Bischoff, Ben Marshall

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox, Nick Lehr, Ryan Coyne

• Minnesotans in Wisconsin's lineup
Joseph Labate, Sr. forward, Eagan
Grant Besse, Soph. forward, Plymouth
Eddie Wittchow, Jr. defenseman, Burnsville
Jack Dougherty, Fr. defenseman, Cottage Grove
Kevin Schulze, Jr. defenseman, White Bear Lake

Gophers tumble in college men's hockey rankings; Minnesota State No. 1 for first time in program history

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: January 12, 2015 - 4:44 PM

The Gophers fell seven spots to No. 16 in Monday's USCHO college men's hockey poll. The sharp decline comes on the heels of a pair of losses at Michigan. 

The previously unranked Wolverines swept the Gophers with a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night and a 7-5 victory on Saturday night to claim longtime Michigan coach Red Berenson's 800th win. 

Michigan climbed into the rankings at No. 19 after the weekend sweep and are 10-2 in their last 12 games. 

Minnesota State took over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history. The Mavericks were the only top 10 team to finish the weekend unscathed and received 20 first-place votes. Boston University, North Dakota, Harvard and Minnesota Duluth round out the top 5. 

Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth, Bemidji State and the Gophers will be on display Jan. 23-24 at the second annual North Star College Cup at Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers and Mavericks meet in the first round. 

The Gophers host Big Ten and border battle rival Wisconsin this weekend at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games and Wisconsin is 2-12-2 on the season. After their recent setback, the Gophers are now tied for 15th in the Pairwise rankings.

Complete USCHO men's poll and Top 20 results and Big Ten results

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