This is Michael Russo's 18th year covering the National Hockey League. He's covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005 following 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. Michael uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.
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The Gophers handed No. 1-ranked, defending NCAA champ Boston College its most lopsided loss since Feb. 24, 1996, tonight with an 8-1 trouncing.
Solid performance here at Mariucci Arena Saturday night by the Gophers. They made simple work of Air Force en route to a 4-0 win and now advance to the big showdown Sunday night at 7 against No. 1-ranked Boston College, the defending national champions and the team that ended the Gophers' season last spring.
Biggest game in town in the Twin Cities on Sunday, right?
Well, other than the little football game being played a few miles away.
Read the game story on www.startribune.com/gophers for all the details, but Erik Haula scored a goal and assist for his 26th career multi-point game, Ryan Reilly scored his first college goal, Kyle Rau and Nate Condon also scored and the always reliable Adam Wilcox showed zero rust from three weeks off by making 18 stops for his third career shutout.
With younger bro Mike Reilly roaming Ufa, Russia, with the American junior team and twin bro Connor Reilly out for the season, Ryan Reilly repped the Reilly clan impressively by using his speed and making himself noticeable all night. Then he scored his goal on a beauty crash of the net to one-time Christian Isackson's pretty feed.
Big game for Reilly because Don Lucia said he plans to play him again Sunday against Boston College, which is big because Reilly, 21, had been scratched in seven consecutive games and 12 of 18 this season. A.J. Michaelson originally was expected to play Sunday, but with the line of Reilly-Isackson-Justin Holl pretty effective, we'll see if Lucia makes a change now.
Lucia was happy with the way his team played. He liked the play of all four lines, the way the six defensemen got pucks through and of course how Wilcox always seems to make the big save when his team needs it. There was that 2-on-1 in the first period with the Gophers up 1-0, the breakaway in the third with the Gophers up 2-0.
So good game all around.
Now B.C. They beat Alabama-Huntsville, 5-2, tonight for Jerry York's NCAA record-breaking 925th win. Lucia joked with him after, "I'm no threat." Lucia has 609 wins in 26 seasons, but the successful coach has made it quite clear he doesn't plan to coach into his retirement years.
For more on York, the Eagles' lineup (they have injury issues and are without one of their best players) and an NHL CBA update, please see the previous blog.
OK, I'm outta here. My wakeup call for this morning's 3:30 a.m. Canada-U.S. world junior game comes in 4 1/2 hours.
Where's the watch party at?
As Don Lucia said, “this was an important game for us” after not only losing 3-2 Friday night, but doing so in a pretty unacceptable fashion.
Measured and disappointed but not at least publicly angry, Don Lucia said it simply: “I always judge our game by continuity coming up the rink and making the plays, and it was kind of like one guy slapping it and the next guy trying to get it and slapping it to the next guy.
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