USA youngsters surprise Gophers with tie

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 27, 2012 - 8:45 AM

Vinni Lettieri was in Nebraska preparing to take a road trip this weekend to Youngstown and Indianapolis with the USHL Lincoln Stars.

Instead, the former Minnetonka Skippers forward got a call out of the blue to pack his bags and join the USA Under-18 National Team for a weekend series at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

Friday night, Lettieri -- the grandson of former Gophers defenseman and North Stars player, coach and general manager Lou Nanne and the son of former Minnesota Kicks and Strikers goalkeeper Tino Lettieri -- suited up in red, white and blue in an exhibition game against the Gophers.

In front of his grandpa and father, his screaming mother, Michelle, uncle Marty and cousin Tyler, Lettieri scored the game's first goal and was plus-2 in a surprising 2-2 tie with the Gophers, the team he has verbally committed to play for.

"I just kept thinking about [playing for the Gophers]," said Lettieri, 17, who hopes to wear maroon and gold next season. "Not a lot of people get to do this. It was an experience I'll never forget."

Wearing No. 23 -- his grandfather's old North Stars number -- Lettieri buzzed all night on a line with Connor Hurley, a fellow injury replacement from Edina High School whom the Gophers are recruiting.

Lettieri, who hasn't scored in six games for the Stars, buried Hurley's pass so hard, it's amazing he didn't rip a hole through the twine. The goal came an instant after Lettieri crushed defenseman Jake Parenteau behind the net and one shift after Seth Helgeson clobbered Lettieri in the corner.

That impressed Lou Nanne more than the goal.

"I liked that," Nanne said. "He's a finesse player. He's skilled with his hands and shooting. But that's what he's developing. He's learning to take the body more, which is really good."

Thirty-three seconds later, Tyler Motte scored a breakaway goal. But the Gophers rallied for two goals in the second in large part because of a five-minute major on Mike McCarron.

Late on the power play, Tom Serratore whistled a bullet through an A.J. Michaelson screen before Nick Bjugstad tied the score late off a beautiful feed from Justin Holl.

The Gophers outshot the team made up of high-schoolers 20-5 in the second and 41-29 in the game. Goalie Thatcher Demko, uncommitted to college, was terrific with 39 saves, robbing the Gophers left and right, especially Bjugstad on a third-period breakaway. Coach Don Lucia was happy with Michael Shibrowski's 27-save effort.

Friday provided Gophers fans a look at Hudson Fasching, weeks from signing a letter of intent with the Gophers. But the former Apple Valley standout didn't play in the third after appearing to be dazed after a hard hit from Serratore.

"We don't know if he's OK yet," coach Don Granato said.

The Gophers also lost Parenteau in the third after he was struck by a shot on the knee. Lucia said he thinks it's just a bruise. The Gophers host Canisius at 1 p.m. Sunday. Defenseman Mark Alt and forward Kyle Rau will return from injury, while defenseman Brady Skjei will miss the game.

"The most important thing [Friday] was just to continue the evaluation process with some of our guys," Lucia said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 2 2nd Prd 9:45
Vancouver 3
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 2nd Half 0:09
Colorado 85
Washington St 45 2nd Half 11:41
UCLA 46
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close