Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.
Gabe Guertler spun and wildly pumped his fist in celebration of his first goal in a Gophers uniform. The freshmen had to wait four-plus months for the coveted moment, but it came at time when the Gophers needed it most.
The goal extended the Gophers’ lead to 5-3 late in the third period and secured the two-goal victory over No. 10 Michigan on Friday night at Mariucci Arena. It also earned all Gophers’ eight freshmen at least one goal this season.
Vinni Lettieri fed Connor Reilly behind the goal, and Reilly found Guertler in front of the net for a one-timer. The fourth-line combination ended a big swing of momentum in Michigan’s favor.
It was one of the Gophers' four freshmen goals on Friday night. The mention of it brought joy to freshmen Hudson Fasching after the game. He said it was something all the young class could celebrate.
“Gabe Guertler, great for him, got his first goal as Gopher,” coach Don Lucia said “I thought that line had some pretty good play tonight and it’s nice to see them get rewarded.”
The fourth line made up of freshmen combined for three of the Gophers’ 12 points. Guertler, who has been battling for a regular spot in the lineup, was playing for the first time since Jan. 25.
• Gophers fans watching from home missed the first five minutes of Friday night’s game. Michigan State and Penn State went to a shootout and extended their portion of the Big Ten Network’s Frozen Fridays.
The game officially ended in a 2-2 tie and Michigan State won the shootout, 1-0. The Spartans have now played to three consecutive shootouts.
• Talented Gophers alumni were attendance Friday night. Legendary John Mayasich was honored before the game, and current NHL players Nick Leddy and Nick Bjugstad were also spotlighted.
Mayasich, who is the only Gophers standout to have his jersey retired, received a long standing ovation as he exited the ice.
• The Gophers women’s hockey team clinched another WCHA regular-season title. They rallied from an early deficit to defeat Wisconsin 3-2 on Friday night in Madison, Wis.
It’s the Gophers eighth WCHA championship.
• Reaction from Michigan coach Red Berenson:
"I thought our team was ready. We skated this morning, we said all the right things and we just didn't start on time. Their team was flying and we were chasing."
"The three penalties didn't help."
"I thought [goaltender Steve] Racine played really well. He had to play well to keep the game was close."
"I thought we got back to our game. We played harder, we created more and we made the game a real game. I'm disappointed to give up that last goal, but we had the momentum at that point. Our team got going in the second [period] and got better in the third."
Postgame video To view on mobile device, click “View on full website” at bottom of page.