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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Gophers continue to pull from Sweden's hockey talent, pick up another commitment

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: June 19, 2014 - 12:27 PM

The Gophers continue to pull from Sweden’s crop of hockey talent. William Fällström announced his commitment to the program on Thursday morning via Twitter.

Fällström becomes the third Swede to commit to the Gophers in the past year. Swedish-born skaters Leon Bristedt and Robin Höglund are set to join the Gophers this fall. Fällström, a 16-year-old forward from Stockholm, is likely a few years away from playing at Mariucci Arena.

Fällström has scored 26 goals and 15 assists in 42 games with four different teams throughout his 2013-2014 season, according to Elite Hockey Prospects. 

The Gophers have had only two players from outside of North America skate for the program.


Five Gophers invited to U.S. National Junior Team evaluation camp

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: June 18, 2014 - 3:37 PM

The Gophers will send five representatives to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., this August.

Invitations were extended to sophomore forwards Hudson Fasching, Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, sophomore defenseman Michael Brodzinski, and incoming freshman defenseman Ryan Collins. Forty two players will attend the eight-day camp that will include international competition against Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

The players will compete for a spot on the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team and a trip to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

Seven players return from the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team, including Fasching. Last year’s team also featured incoming junior defenseman Brady Skjei and was coached by Gophers lead man Don Lucia. The U.S. lost in the quarterfinals and finished fifth.

Fasching scored 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) on the Gophers’ first line and earned All-Big Ten freshman honors, last season. He also made a big impact at the World Junior Championships by scoring two goals and two assists.

Cammarata compiled 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) as a freshman on the Gophers’ second line. He was invited to last year’s summer evaluation camp.

Lettieri totaled eight points (two goals, six assists) as a regular on the fourth line.

Brodzinski scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) as a freshman defenseman and played a big role in the Gophers’ postseason run. He was also invited to last year’s summer evaluation camp.

Collins, an incoming freshman defenseman, is coming off his second year with the U.S. National Developmental Team Program. He was part of a gold medal-finish in the 2014 IIHF Under-18 World Championships and has significant experience in international competition.

Minnesotans Clint Lewis (Cornell), Jack Dougherty (incoming freshman at Wisconsin), Tommy Vannelli (Medicine Hat Tigers and former Gophers recruit), Connor Hurley (incoming freshman at Notre Dame) and Keegan Iverson (Portland Winterhawks) were also invited to the summer evaluation camp.

Mark Osiecki, a Burnsville native and former Ohio State head coach, will coach this year’s National Junior Team.

Complete USA roster.

Gophers hockey officially adds two more to incoming freshman class

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: June 4, 2014 - 5:41 PM

The Gophers added to their incoming freshman class on Wednesday. Goaltender Nick Lehr and forward Robin Höglund each signed Acceptance of Admission agreements and will join the team next season, coach Don Lucia announced.

The pair played significant roles on their respective North American Hockey League teams last season. Lehr, a Roseville native, earned All-NAHL Central Division honors for the Austin Bruins. Höglund, a native of Mölndal, Sweden, was an All-NAHL North Division honoree for the Janesville Jets.

Lehr will likely compete for a backup role to All-American goaltender Adam Wilcox. He spent three seasons in the NAHL and led the Bruins to the Robertson Cup Finals and a regular-season division title with 35 wins, 1.84 goals-against average and .932 save percentage last season.

Höglund becomes just the fourth Gophers recruit from outside North America. He joins already committed incoming freshman and fellow Swede Leon Bristedt. The forward scored 47 points (24 goals, 23 assists) in 57 games with the Janesville Jets last season. He spent two seasons in the NAHL and a partial season in the USHL over the past three years. 

Lucia has yet to announce next year's tentative roster with players still considering the option to leave early for the pros. All-American defenseman Mike Reilly recently announced he would return for his junior season.

Gophers hockey standouts Brandt, Condon represent U as Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award honorees

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: May 29, 2014 - 4:50 PM

Gophers women's and men's hockey standouts Hannah Brandt and Nate Condon were selected as Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award honorees on Thursday afternoon. 

The pair was among 24 student-athletes recognized out of 300 Big Ten candidates. Each university's women's and men's varsity programs selected an individual that displayed positive sportsmanship and two winners were chosen from each institution for the conference award.

Brandt helped guide the Gophers women's hockey team to the national championship game and WCHA regular-season and tournament titles. The sophomore scored 65 points and was a First Team All-American, Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist, and WCHA Player of the Year. She plans to study health and wellness in the Inter-College Program.

Condon co-captained the Gophers men's hockey team to a national runner-up finish and the inaugural Big Ten hockey regular-season title. The senior finished his career with 103 points and became just the 81st Gopher in program history to reach the 100-point milestone. Condon, a 2008 seventh-round draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche, graduated in May with degrees in finance and accounting from the Carlson School of Management. He was honored with the program's Elwin "Doc" Romnes Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

2014 Outstanding Sportsmanship Award Winners

Illinois                                  Nathan Scheelhaase, Football

                                           Jenna Mychko, Softball

Indiana                                 Dustin DeMuth, Baseball

                                           Amanda Redfern, Water Polo

Iowa                                    James Morris, Football

                                           Theairra Taylor, Basketball

Michigan                              Shaun Bernstein, Tennis

                                           Courtney Beidler, Swimming & Diving

Michigan State                     Antonio James, Track & Field

                                           Tori Franklin, Track & Field

Minnesota                          Nate Condon, Hockey

                                           Hannah Brandt, Hockey

Nebraska                             C.J. Zimmerer, Football

                                           Sunny Russell, Rifle

Northwestern                        Jack Quigley, Baseball

                                           Jackie Powell, Swimming & Diving

Ohio State                            2014 Baseball team

                                           Claudia Lim, Golf

Penn State                           David Glen, Hockey

                                           Christina Vosters, Golf

Purdue                                 Adam Schenk, Golf

                                            Maia Monchek, Softball

Wisconsin                             Chris Borland, Football

                                            Monica Whitehouse, Rowing

Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award criteria: One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by his or her institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree, and two Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected from each institution. All of the Sportsmanship Award winners have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, these honorees must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

Gophers hockey All-American defenseman Mike Reilly will return for junior season

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: May 28, 2014 - 5:09 PM

Gophers All-American defenseman Mike Reilly will return for his junior season.

Reilly’s decision was announced via the Gophers hockey Twitter account late Wednesday afternoon. He was thought to be the only player seriously considering the option to leave early for professional hockey.

"I'm excited to be coming back to Minnesota next season," Reilly said in a press release. "We've been incredibly successful over the last two years, and I'm looking forward to more of the same next year."

Reilly, a 2011 fourth-round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets, was the Gophers' lone First Team All-American and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The offensive-minded defenseman scored nine goals and 24 assists as a sophomore. He will return to play with twin brothers and teammates Connor and Ryan.

The Gophers have yet to lose a player to early departure this offseason and lost only five seniors from its 2014 national runner-up lineup. 

Forward Kyle Rau, defenseman Brady Skjei and goaltender Adam Wilcox were also considered possible early departures. Talk among the team is that Wilcox will also return.


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