Coaches pick Gophers second behind Badgers in inaugural Big Ten hockey poll

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2013 - 12:45 AM

Roster of upperclassmen sets Badgers apart. Young Gophers picked second.

 

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said a roster full of upperclassmen is the reason the Badgers are favorites to win the Big Ten men’s hockey conference’s inaugural season. Gophers junior co-captain Kyle Rau agreed with the conference coaches’ preseason vote by proclaiming Wisconsin “definitely deserving.”

The Gophers were picked No. 2, announced Thursday morning at the first Big Ten hockey media day at Xcel Energy Center.

Rau, however, didn’t feel as strongly about the conference coaches’ other vote: players to watch. Of the 13 individuals named, Rau was the only unanimous selection. The news of the preseason honor was delivered to Rau via text message from former Gophers standout and current Nashville Predators prospect Zach Budish. Rau said he didn’t know how to respond to the text, unsure what Budish was referring to. He eventually had an opinion.

“I mean, it’s preseason, Rau said. “I haven’t done anything to earn it.”

That’s not exactly true. Gophers coach Don Lucia has big plans for his forward this year. Rau appeared in all 40 games last year as a sophomore and collected 40 points — 15 goals, 25 assists. More impressive, he tied for the national lead with seven game-winning goals and led his team in power-play points throughout the regular season.

These are just a few of the highlights that have Lucia excited for how Rau will outdo himself this season. In fact, Lucia is so eager to get his forward more opportunities to score that he’s considering moving him from wing to center.

“That was always his natural position. We need Kyle to score. He’s our leading returning scorer and we need the puck on his stick as much as we possibly can,” Lucia said. “That is one of the reasons why we’re really strong and considering moving him back to center, so he has more touches.”

Sophomores Adam Wilcox and Mike Reilly were mentioned with Rau as the Gophers players to watch. Wisconsin led all teams with four players to watch. Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State each had two players to watch. Penn State, only in its second year with a varsity hockey program, had none.

Lucia also addressed the challenges that losing five players to the NHL will create. But he said in the first few days of practice, he’s seen that his team can make plays.

New conference, new excitement

The extra heads and camera lenses in Thursday morning’s sessions reminded coaches of tournament excitement — even though the season hasn’t even started. The Big Ten hockey conference is already doing what it’s intended to, Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said: Create hype.

Anastos couldn’t help but start his day by exclaiming how busy it would be. He was scheduled for interviews with the Big Ten Network, Fox, ESPN, NBC, a quick stop at a news conference, then onto one-on-one sessions. It was more than most programs are used to, especially at this time of the year.

Every coach and player in attendance praised the benefits and exposure of the new conference. Longtime Michigan coach Red Berenson said he remembers a Stanley Cup- like atmosphere whenever he and the Wolverines played the Gophers in the 1950s. He hopes that’s what this conference will help re-create.

Said Gophers co-captain Nate Condon said: “I guess this year is going to be different for us, obviously, with the different rivalries. But I hope everyone understands from the greater perspective … that they’re going to develop more as the Big Ten keeps going year by year. I think it will be fun for us this year to have the first shot at the league title.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
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
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close