For the U's Chad Roberg, a midseason exhibition game against the U.S. National Development Team in 2003 was a night to remember.
It was a Friday night in January with the Gophers men's hockey team in town, but Mariucci Arena was only about half full. On the bench opposite the Gophers that night in 2003, a collection of the best high school-aged players in the country came to do battle with the defending national champions.
A midseason exhibition game against the U.S. National Development Team is a yawner for most, and indeed the eventual 6-0 romp was indicative of that.
But for Chad Roberg, it was a night to remember.
"My pals were there, my family was there," he said. "It meant everything for me."
After three-plus years spent toiling with the Gophers, the seldom-used walk-on from Duluth entered the third period of what would turn out to be his final game appearance in a Gophers uniform. To that point, he hadn't made a dent on any stat sheet in his college career.
And then it happened, just as he and teammate Matt DeMarchi had discussed in the car on the way to the game.
"He asked me what I would do if I got a breakaway," Roberg said. "I said I'd think about deking the goalie but probably go five-hole and hope for a rebound.
"I saw the puck go out to and skip past a defenseman," Roberg continued. "I scooted it ahead, won the race and went five-hole."
The place went nuts after the puck tickled the twine.
"[Current NHL players] Paulie Martin and Thomas Vanek were two of the first guys there," Roberg said of the celebration. "I call it my $50 million hug."
Roberg, now working for United Health in Duluth, came to the U on an academic scholarship. Fed up with the exhausting role as a practice player getting in the way of his studies, he nearly quit during his freshman year.
A heart-to-heart with coach Don Lucia changed his mind. Two national championships and one exhibition goal later, Roberg laughs at the thought of almost hanging up his skates.
"It was a glorified practice for most of those guys, but they knew it was my career," he said. "I could have done something that didn't matter. But I was a small deal in something that did matter."
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|Cincinnati||6||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Chicago WSox||2||Top 6th Inning|
|Kansas City||4||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Milwaukee||7||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Seattle||6||Top 7th Inning|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|San Jose||6:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|South Carolina||66||2nd Half 3:20|
|Cal State Fullerton||25||2nd Half|
|Long Beach State||29|
|Florida A&M||14||1st Half 9:26|
|Nicholls||14||1st Half 7:40|
|Penn State||5:30 PM|
|Northern Colorado||5:30 PM|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|
|Bradley||39||2nd Half 16:16|
|Montana State||11||1st Half 11:54|
|Alabama State||5:30 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM|
|Southern Ill||7:07 PM|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
Poll: How many games will the Gophers win in the Big Ten tournament?