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

Email to talk Gophers.

Gophers men fall from top spot in college hockey polls

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: November 17, 2014 - 12:31 PM

The Gophers' extended run at No. 1 came to end on Monday. After being swept by in-state rival Minnesota Duluth, the Gophers fall to No. 4 and Michigan Tech takes over the top spot.

It's the first time Michigan Tech has been No. 1 in the USCHO poll. North Dakota and Boston University remain at No. 2 and No. 3, Massachusetts-Lowell drops a spot to No. 5.

Duluth climbed into the Top 10 with its second straight sweep of a ranked in-state rival. The Bulldogs are No. 8, followed by Minnesota State at No. 9. St. Cloud State fell a spot to No. 16. Minnesota programs were 3-4-1 over the weekend.

The Big Ten was 4-5. The Gophers continue to be the only conference presence in the USCHO poll. 
They take a week off from regular competition, but host the U18 U.S. National Developmental Team for an exhibition game on Friday night.  

Lineup adjustments not enough to spark Gophers' offense + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: November 16, 2014 - 12:47 AM

Gophers allow two early goals, suffer sweep to Duluth, read Saturday's game story.


DULUTH – Changes up and down the Gophers’ lineup didn’t create the offensive spark Don Lucia hoped they would.

Leon Bristedt was bumped to the third line, Connor Reilly moved up to the first line, Vinni Lettieri reassumed his role on the third line, and Christian Isackson returned to the fourth line. The changes were good for only 14 shots on goal from the Gophers’ forwards in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night at Amsoil Arena.

The Gophers had just 25 shots on goal, 11 from the defensemen, a night after producing just 17 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss.

“It’s not the result we were looking for this weekend. We need to find a way to score, we just didn’t get it done,” Gophers senior forward Kyle Rau said. “It’s tough to win when you only score one goal in six periods. It puts too much pressure on your goal and [Adam Wilcox] can’t bail us out every time.”

Leon Bristedt’s goal midway through the third period was the first from a Gophers forward in the last seven periods going back to the series finale against Notre Dame.

Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo was looking forward to this weekend after losing to the Gophers in the season-opener at the Ice Breaker Tournament in South Bend, Ind. Kaskisuo didn’t have any problems making up for the early loss.  

“He played very well, no question,” Lucia said. “I said going in that they’re a good team and they showed that this weekend. We just need for some guys to start to score some goals for us right now.”

Sandelin was impressed with his team’s ability to limit the Gophers’ scoring chances, especially during the four power plays.

“When you give this team 17 and 25 shots” that’s good, Sandelin said. “I’m used to playing Minnesota and giving up 35-40. And they have that kind of fire power. I said to our staff we’re going to see 35-40 shots [on Saturday] and Kaz is going to be a lot busier. But I thought we did a good job defensively. Their power play had three shots tonight, so our killers did a good job. … [Kaskisuo] is getting better every game and he’s getting more confident, which is good. I know he wanted to play after the first game he got beat [by the Gophers], ‘cause we kind of hung him out the first two [goals], so I think he was excited to have a chance to play them again.”

Saturday’s box score.

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

Gophers junior goaltender Adam Wilcox

Gophers coach Don Lucia

Minnesota Duluth junior forward Charlie Sampair (White Bear Lake native)


 

Friday replay: Top-ranked Gophers shut out 3-0. In-state rival Minnesota Duluth breaks Gophers' 17-game home-unbeaten streak, read Friday night's game story and postgame blog and box score. Watch postgame video of Gophers sophomore forward Justin KloosGophers coach Don Luciaand Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Dan Molenaar (Eden Prairie product).

Pregame: Lettieri cleared to play; Gophers return to Duluth for first time since 2011

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: November 15, 2014 - 5:59 PM

The return of Vinni Lettieri and several line adjustments could provide the boost the Gophers need after suffering their first shutout in more than a year and half. 

Lettieri returns to the center position on the third line and left wings Connor Reilly and Leon Bristedt swap roles on the first and third lines.

The Gophers delayed their usual lineup release on Saturday, likely trying to settle on several changes. Each line struggled to produce scoring chances on Friday night and any change could be good for the offense.

The Gophers had several hours on a bus late last night to reflect on the shutout. After the 3-0 loss they cleaned up and left for Duluth. The postgame trip avoided traveling two-plus hours on a game day and allowed for a morning skate on the smaller ice sheet at Amsoil Arena.

The seniors are the only players with experience in this environment. The last time the Gophers played in Duluth was in October 2011 and they swept the Bulldogs on their home ice. In February 2010 the Bulldogs were 1-0-1 at Amsoil Arena against the in-state rival.

“I think that was the first road series weekend of my freshman year, so I remember playing up there. It’s a fairly new rink and the fans are pretty crazy up there,” Gophers senior forward Sam Warning said. “So it will definitely be fun playing there on the road. We’ll have to take an approach like it’s any other game.”

The Gophers have lost the opening game in both home-and-home series this season. They struggled in the high-energy atmosphere of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. We’ll see how they handle a similar environment on Saturday night in Duluth. 

Friday replay: Top-ranked Gophers shut out 3-0. In-state rival Minnesota Duluth breaks Gophers' 17-game home-unbeaten streak, read Friday night's game story and postgame blog and box score. Watch postgame video of Gophers sophomore forward Justin KloosGophers coach Don Luciaand Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Dan Molenaar (Eden Prairie product).

My feature this week took a look at how hockey rivalries inside Minnesota borders have heated up with the conference shakeups.

• HOME-AND-HOME SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 1 GOPHERS vs. NO. 13 BULLDOGS

7 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena in downtown Duluth.

TV/radio/live stream: FSN Plus; 1500-AM; BTN2Go.

Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (7-2 overall) are coming off their best complete effort. They scored eight consecutive goals over two games and shut out previously ranked Notre Dame 5-0 in the series opener. Role players filled in well against Notre Dame and will be even more important this weekend as the Gophers face another quality opponent with veterans Travis Boyd and Brady Skjei. 

For more on Minnesota-Duluth, read full series preview.

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

Defensemen (left, right)
Mike Reilly, Ryan Collins
Ben Marshall, Michael Brodzinski
Jake Bischoff, Jack Glover
Steve Johnson
(Someone will be scratched from the lineup after pregame warmups)

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox, Nick Lehr

• Minnesotans in Duluth's lineup
Dominic Toninato, forward, Duluth
Justin Brandall, forward, Lakeville
Tony Cameranesi, forward, Plymouth
Karson Kuhlman, forward, Esko
Kyle Osterberg, forward, Lakeville
Cal Decowski, forward, Andover
Austyn Young, forward, South St. Paul
Jared Thomas, forward, Hermantown
Charlie Sampair, forward White Bear Lake
Derik Johnson, defenseman, Bloomington
Andy Welinski, defenseman, Duluth
Willie Raskob, defenseman, Hastings
Willie Corrin, defenseman, International Falls
Dan Molenaar, defenseman, Eden Prairie
Backup goaltenders: Matt McNeely, Burnsville; Alex Fons, Minnetonka

Gophers' extended home-unbeaten streak comes to an end + video

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: November 15, 2014 - 12:10 AM

Top-ranked Gophers shut out 3-0. In-state rival Minnesota Duluth breaks Gophers' 17-game home-winning streak, read Friday night's game story.


Another Minnesota program snapped college hockey’s longest active unbeaten streak.

Minnesota Duluth played the spoiling role with a 3-0 shutout against the No. 1 Gophers on Friday night. The road win ended the Gophers’ nation-best 17-game home-unbeaten streak.

Last month it was St. Cloud State that spoiled defending national champion Union College’s extended 22-game unbeaten streak and 15-game home-winning streak with a 3-2 victory in New York.

The Bulldogs have been successful at Mariucci Arena over the last several years and have won back-to-back games in front of the Gophers’ home crowd. Duluth coach Scott Sandelin has noticed more competitive games between the rivals over the last several years.

“We’ve had some great games with them no matter where it’s played. Last year we had a great game at the Xcel. Last year we split here,” Sandelin said. “I think it helped playing last weekend on the big sheet at St. Cloud. It was our first two games on that. It gave our guys some confidence.

“If you have some older guys that have maybe won in the building [that helps]. …But all I know is we’ve had some good games with [the Gophers] and some real competitive games and we’ve been able to win some games [at Mariucci Arena] the last three or four or five years.”

Friday’s box score.

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

Gophers sophomore forward Justin Kloos

Gophers coach Don Lucia

Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Dan Molenaar (Eden Prairie product)

Pregame: Gophers hoping for better start to home-and-home format

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: November 14, 2014 - 5:47 PM

The Gophers are hoping for a better start to the second home-and-home series on their schedule this season.

Their first loss and only loss was at St. Cloud in Game 1 of a split-city series. It’ll help that the Gophers-Minnesota Duluth series will open at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. However, the Bulldogs were the last team to beat Minnesota at home and will play for their second straight upset at Mariucci.

Senior captain Kyle Rau hasn’t forgotten about the lopsided 6-2 loss last October and is eager to get another shot against the Bulldogs in front of a home crowd.

Senior forward Sam Warning said the Gophers learned from the letdown at St. Cloud State and will be better prepared for the home-and-home format. The series heads north on Saturday, the Gophers’ first trip to Duluth since October 2011.

“I think going on the road was a good experience for our team. You always have to be ready,” Warning said. “St. cloud is a pretty intense place to play. I think using that going into the Duluth weekend we’ll be pretty good because we’ll know what to expect, especially against an in-state rival.”

My feature this week took a look at how the hockey battles inside Minnesota borders have heated up with the conference shakeups. Also, the Gophers are without another skater entering the weekend. My blog on the loss of Vinni Lettieri

• HOME-AND-HOME SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 1 GOPHERS vs. NO. 13 BULLDOGS

7 p.m. Friday at Mariucci Arena

TV/radio/live stream: FSN Plus; 107.1-FM; BTN2Go.

Gophers at a glance: Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (7-1 overall) are coming off their best complete effort. They scored eight consecutive goals over two games and shut out previously ranked Notre Dame 5-0 in the series opener. Sophomore forward Vinni Lettieri didn’t practice all week after being hit in the helmet with a puck during Sunday’s 4-2 victory. Coach Don Lucia said Lettieri likely won’t play, leaving the Gophers without three quality skaters — veterans Travis Boyd and Brady Skjei are the other two. Role players filled in well against Notre Dame and will be even more key this weekend.

For more on Minnesota-Duluth, read full series preview.

• Gophers Friday lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Leon Bristedt, Kyle Rau, Hudson Fasching
Sam Warning, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata
Connor Reilly, Christian Isacson, Seth Ambroz
Robin Hoglund, A.J. Michaelson, Ryan Reilly

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

Goaltenders
Adam Wilcox, Nick Lehr, Ryan Coyne

• Minnesotans in Duluth's lineup
Dominic Toninato, forward, Duluth
Justin Brandall, forward, Lakeville
Tony Cameranesi, forward, Plymouth
Karson Kuhlman, forward, Esko
Kyle Osterberg, forward, Lakeville
Cal Decowski, forward, Andover
Austyn Young, forward, South St. Paul
Jared Thomas, forward, Hermantown
Charlie Sampair, forward White Bear Lake
Derik Johnson, defenseman, Bloomington
Andy Welinski, defenseman, Duluth
Willie Raskob, defenseman, Hastings
Willie Corrin, defenseman, International Falls
Dan Molenaar, defenseman, Eden Prairie
Backup goaltenders: Matt McNeely, Burnsville; Alex Fons, Minnetonka

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