Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He 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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Russo: Mariucci Classic story lines

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers Updated: December 28, 2012 - 12:41 AM

With the NHL and NHLPA still having no plans to meet at the moment as the league hits crunch time toward the possibility of the 2012-13 season being canceled, the Gophers' men will be back in action this weekend for the Mariucci Classic.

No. 1-ranked Boston College, Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville will be in town for games Saturday and Sunday.

The 11-3-3 Gophers take on Air Force on Saturday at 7, then meet Boston College on Sunday at 7. That game will be the first time the two teams meet since BC beat the Gophers 6-1 in last season's national championship game Frozen Four.

That's obviously a huge storyline this weekend, as well as using the 11-2-1 Eagles as a measuring stick as the Gophers look to kickstart a second half following a first half most would consider just par because of the expectation level heading into this season.

The Gophers have been practicing since Christmas night. They were understably sluggish but have gotten better as the week's gone on, coach Don Lucia said. Goalie Mike Shibrowski, who has been hurt since early November, has returned to practice and can return to the nets anytime the Gophers need, Lucia said.

Forward A.J. Michaelson missed Wednesday's practice with the flu but should be fine for this weekend. The Gophers are without defenseman Mike Reilly, who is at the world junior tournament in Ufa, Russia, and was plus-4 today in a 8-0 pounding of Germany.

Couple other storylines this weekend:

Boston College Jerry York can set the NCAA men's hockey wins mark Saturday if the Eagles beat UAH. It would be York's 925th win, breaking longtime Michigan State coach Ron Mason's mark of 924.

"It's kind of neat that he has the opportunity to do that here and our fans will have the opportunity to see history being made," Lucia said.

Also, Air Force is coached by Frank Serratore, the father of Gophers hard-hitting junior forward Tom Serratore. Frank is a native of Coleraine, Minn., and boasts a squad made up of 11 Minnesotans. He is in his 16th season at Air Force, having led the Falcons to five Atlantic Hockey Association championships and five NCAA appearances, including last year. This year, they're 5-7-4.

Saturday night, from the bench level, Frank Serratore will watch his son play in person for the first time in his collegiate career.

"I’m sure it’ll hit me when warmups come around on Saturday," said Tom Serratore. "My mom, sisters and brother are going to have a little more nerves going."

Serratore said he is fairly sure most his family will be wearing Air Force blue, but he hopes they will wear maroon and gold Sunday.

Frank Serratore is a true character. He's the epitome of it's not a job, it's a passion.

Here is a Q&A about facing his son (some great quotes here):

On playing his son: "I hope it’s fun. I hope it’s fun. I haven’t thought a whole lot about that because I’ve got to prepare my team to play the No. 4 team in the country on their Olympic size sheet. Tom came home for Christmas and people tried to get us into it a little bit, and we tried to avoid it. He wanted to skate with our guys over at the Academy, though, and I did make him dress in the visitors’ room. I said, ‘That’s your home over there until after Saturday night, my friend.’"

What will it be like?: " I’ve played lots of games against my brother [Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore]. You have to separate it. You have to have the task at hand. People were saying, ‘You won’t be sad if the Gophers win and your son scores the winning goal.’ My response was, ‘You think I want to listen to him chirp me the rest of my life. Are you kidding me? I want the winning goal to be scored by a guy in blue. That’s what I want.’ I hope we’re ready. There can’t be a coach other than the Gopher coaches that’s seen Minnesota play more than me. I go home after our games on Friday and Saturday night and turn on FSN and watch the game that I’ve TiVoed."
Is it awkward: "I think it would be a lot weirder if it was like the Staals or the Sutters and you’re actually out there and have to finish a check against a guy with the same nameplate on his back as you do. Our deal’s a little bit different. I’m a coach. I coach. He’s a player. He’s got to play."
On Serratore's new level as a player (six goals, leads in hits): "I couldn’t be more proud of him. The kid, he loves to play. He works so hard, he cares so much, and you see that in his play. I think the fans of Minnesota appreciate that. He’s kind of like the people’s player. He’s an everyday guy. Let’s face it, the Gophers have a lot of supermodels in their lineup, and he ain’t one of them. But as a buddy of mine says, it takes a lot of different instruments to make up an orchestra, and he ain’t Mick Jagger in this rockband, but if he’s not in the lineup, there’s something missing. You have to have that type of element. My hats off to the Gophers’ staff. When they recruited him, they sold him on they needed that element. I wasn’t real hip on him coming here because of the number of star players that come here. He’s not that kind of player. But you look at what’s transpired, he’s found his niche on this team. And on every great Gophers team that’s ever been, they’ve had a guy or two like that. You have to have that element. He knows what he is and he takes pride in it. He came here because he wanted to come here, not because I wanted him to come here."
Would you have recruited your son? "Absolutely. But like his old man, he didn't have the reading, writing and arithmetic. Tom was a good student but not to the Academy level. … You need a 25, 26 ACT to get in there, but you only need about a 12 or 13 to coach."
Have you coached against Tom before? "At the Select-17 Sports Festival in St. Cloud. He has a twin brother, Tim whe's at Augsburg. I coached the gray team. Tim played on the green team and Tom played on the orange team. I beat Tom’s team. Tom’s team beat Tim’s team and Tim’s team beat mine. So we all had a 1-1 record, although the boys claimed the tiebreaker went to them because they each scored a goal in the game against their dad (laughing)."
If you know Frank Serratore, he's a human YouTube clip. Here's a classic from earlier this year after a 5-1 WIN over Penn State.
By the way, Serratore was right. Penn State won 5-1. His next news conference should have been, "Told ya!"
Tom Serratore says, "That's normal to me."
I asked Frank Serratore about this:
"You are what you are. A lot of coaches either don’t know or they forget, we’re in the entertainment business. People want to see the faces behind the mask and behind the bench and the personalities. I don’t have to go out there and take game stats and spout off the freaking power-play percentages. They don’t want to hear that. They can look that up on the internet. They’ve got you guys writing about it and talking about it on the broadcast. It's the way I've always been.
"Like talking to you makes the trip for me. A good game Saturday night, that'd be the icing on the cake. If not, good for Tom (laughing)."


Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 4th Qtr 1:13
Miami 96
Detroit 102 4th Qtr 0:14
Brooklyn 104
LA Lakers 91 4th Qtr 5:05
Sacramento 94
Philadelphia 92 4th Qtr 1:38
Orlando 84
Phoenix 99 4th Qtr 1:56
Washington 89
Indiana 57 3rd Qtr 10:44
Minnesota 42
New Orleans 57 3rd Qtr 11:01
Oklahoma City 51
Colorado 0 3rd Prd 7:55
Detroit 1
Dallas 4 3rd Prd 11:23
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 1 2nd Prd 13:08
Boston 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 13:27
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 12:30
Chicago 2
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 56 2nd Half 2:11
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 42 2nd Half 7:10
Kent State 41
San Jose St 35 2nd Half 16:18
Washington St 51
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
CS-Bakersfield 74
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 25 2nd Half 10:59
(21) Miss State 46
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




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