Quiet Rau does his talking on the ice for Gophers hockey

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2013 - 12:14 AM

Kyle Rau has a knack for scoring game-winning goals, yet the feisty winger says he just wants to pitch in when he can.


Kyle Rau, the U’s second-leading scorer, hopes to have himself positioned for big goals in the postseason.

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON , Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


To the Gophers’ opponents, it must seem as if Kyle Rau is never quiet. The sophomore forward is well-known around the WCHA for his incessant chirping during games, which antagonizes rivals nearly as much as his ability to score timely goals.

Nick Bjugstad said that is merely Rau’s on-ice persona. Offstage, Bjugstad explained, his linemate and roommate is a regular Clark Kent: reserved, calm, not given to speaking up in the locker room.

“He’s kind of the opposite of what he is on the ice,’’ Bjugstad said. “He’s very relaxed; he studies a lot and he goes to bed early. You’d never guess he’s a feisty little guy out there.’’

Rau is not simply a provocateur. The big-goal reputation he earned at Eden Prairie High School has followed him to college, where he has scored 13 game-winning goals in two seasons — including seven this season, the most of any player in Division I. The same pugnacious streak that fuels his verbal jabs also gives him the nerve to mix it up in front of the net, not the easiest place for a 5-8 winger to thrive.

The latest big goal from this small player came in last week’s WCHA first-round playoff opener against Bemidji State. Rau charged to the net to seize the rebound of his own shot and fire it in to give the Gophers an overtime victory, one that helped propel them to Friday’s WCHA Final Five semifinal at Xcel Energy Center.

It’s a stage Rau knows and appreciates, mostly. He won two state titles at Eden Prairie and secured the second with a memorable diving goal to end a triple-overtime title game against Duluth East in 2011. But he also remembers the 6-3 thumping the Gophers absorbed at the hands of North Dakota in last year’s Final Five semifinals, setting another spark under his fiery nature as the Gophers play their last games as members of the WCHA.

“I think my role is to let the big dogs do their thing, then try to hang around in the background and pitch in when I can,’’ said Rau, who is the Gophers’ second-leading scorer with 15 goals and 24 assists. “I don’t really think about [scoring winning goals]. But when the game is on the line, you love to be that guy who helps your team win the game.’’

Rau has played the entire season alongside Bjugstad, a center, usually on the left wing. His 6-6 linemate appreciates Rau’s knack for unnerving other players with both his words and his stick. The Gophers are 23-1-1 this season when Rau scores a point.

During a blockbuster freshman year, Rau scored six game-winners, third-most in Division I. Already a fan favorite because of his performances at the state tournament, his gritty style transferred immediately to the college game. Rau made the WCHA’s all-rookie team after scoring 18 goals and 25 assists and finishing plus-23.

Rau said he has developed his overall game in two seasons with the Gophers, giving special attention to developing his shot. Coach Don Lucia took no credit for nurturing Rau’s ability to score deciding goals. Some players simply have a gift for stepping up at critical times, he said, and Rau puts himself into position to do so by standing his ground around the net.

In the postseason, Lucia said, most goals are scored in that rough area — and Rau’s teammates know he will be in prime position.

Bjugstad noted that Rau plays like a much bigger person, energizing the Gophers with resounding hits as well as important goals and verbal sparring. He’s particularly impressed, he said, that Rau so quickly figured out how to score the not-so-pretty goals in front of the net, a skill that some players never master.

“It all goes back to his grit and his smarts,’’ said fellow sophomore Christian Isackson, who has played right wing on the Bjugstad-Rau line for much of the season. “He’s the kind of guy that gets in there, and whether it’s against a 6-4 guy or a 5-10 guy, he’s winning the stick battles and getting to the right place at the right time.’’

The goals have not come as frequently lately. Rau has only two in his past 16 games, though both were game-winners. Lucia said Rau just received a new batch of sticks, teasing that those should eliminate any excuses for not scoring a big one — or more — this weekend.

Rau welcomes that kind of thinking.

“I’m excited to be in that position, knowing you can do a lot to help your team,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.’’


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
UAB 11:00 AM
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Memphis 11:00 AM
North Carolina 11:30 AM
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent 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 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question