Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six 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 is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.
Adam Wilcox had something to prove on Sunday night. The goaltender made his point with a 4-0 shutout of St. Cloud State in the NCAA tournament West Regional championship at Xcel Energy Center.
Wilcox had an uncharateristic night on Saturday when he gave up three goals. That didn't sit well with the sophomore and he returned to the rink on Sunday with extra focus, coach Don Lucia said.
The determination stopped all 24 of the Huskies' shots to claim his third shutout of the season and seventh of his career. He's now tied for the third-most in Gophers hockey history.
"I'm no a goalie expert, but sometiems they look locked and loaded and that's how he looked tonight," Lucia said "He looked right-on and he was really sharp tonight."
Sunday's win marked the 50th of his young career, already among the top 10 goaltenders in program history.
"The shutout was cool, but just getting the win and gonig to the Frozen Four is a feeling I haven't had before and is really special," Wilcox said.
Hear more from Wilcox and other Gophers in the below video.
• The Gophers freshmen standouts continued to shine in their second NCAA tournament game. Justin Kloos scored two goals and Taylor Cammarata had two assists. Our Chris Miller broke down their success in the tournament notebook:
A youth movement this season has paid off in the Gophers’ 21st trip to the NCAA Frozen Four. Eight freshmen played regularly, and seven were in the lineup Sunday night when the Gophers beat St. Cloud State 4-0 for the NCAA West Regional title.
With Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt — all would have been seniors this season — playing in the NHL, the Gophers have gone 26-6-6, with freshmen contributing an NCAA-high 56 goals.
“We have been blessed with upperclassmen who were great leaders,” said freshman center Justin Kloos, who was named the regional’s most outstanding player. “Because of our balance, you don’t have a ton of pressure. Every line can score, every line can play against the other team’s top players.
“Sometimes freshmen get in trouble trying to be cute … like soft plays at the blue line. But we’ve learned the hard way.”
Kloos scored twice Sunday after getting a goal in Saturday’s 7-3 victory over Robert Morris. He was joined on the all-regional team by Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox, defensemen Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly and forward Nate Condon.
St. Cloud State center Nic Dowd, who scored the overtime winner Saturday in a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame, also made the team.
Gophers coach Don Lucia knew he’d be relying on freshmen. They contributed 40 percent of the team’s 137 goals.
“We put them in those roles right from the get-go to get them ready for this time of year,” Lucia said. “This weekend, they learned the way they have to play. They can’t play too cute.”
Miller also looks ahead to the big matchup with North Dakota in other tournament notebook items.
More reading from Saturday's West Regional:
Gophers top St. Cloud State 4-0, advance to Frozen Four game story.
The Don is deserving of his title column from Pat Reusse.
• Frozen Four field is set: Gophers, North Dakota, Boston College, Union Sunday's results
Boston College 4, Massachusetts-Lowell 3, NCAA Northeast Regional championship
Gophers 4, St. Cloud State 0, NCAA West Regional championship
Tidbits from the West Regional championship game featuring in-state rivals:
Minnesota is now 23-13-0 all-time at the Xcel Energy Center since the facility opened in the 2000-01 season, including a 3-1-1 record this season.
Minnesota is making its 35th appearance in the NCAA tournament this weekend. Minnesota is now 55-35 all-time in NCAA tournament play.
Minnesota will make its 21st appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four April 10-12 in Philadelphia. Michigan and Boston College have made the most Frozen Four appearances with 24 (Boston College’s 24 includes this season’s appearance), with Minnesota and Boston University tied for third-most with 21.
This is the second time the Golden Gophers have appeared in an NCAA tournament regional at the Xcel Energy Center. In 2012, Minnesota won the regional with a 7-3 win over Boston University and a 5-2 win over North Dakota. This is the third NCAA regional held at the Xcel Energy Center (2010, 2012, 2014).
In NCAA tournament games played at the Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota is now 6-0-0 (2-0-0 in 2002 Frozen Four, 2-0-0 in 2012 West Regional, 2-0-0 in 2014 West Regional).
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, in his 15th season at Minnesota and 27th overall, recorded his 650th career victory with the win over St. Cloud State. He is now 650-343-94 in his collegiate coaching career, including a 371-190-65 record with the Gophers.
Don Lucia is now 45-30-8 in his coaching career in games against St. Cloud State, including a 23-19-7 mark as Minnesota’s head coach.
The shutout win is Minnesota’s fifth this season and its sixth Minnesota shutout in the all-time series between the Gophers and St. Cloud State. The last time the Gophers shut out the Huskies was in a 5-0 win at Minnesota on Nov. 19, 2011.
Minnesota outshot St. Cloud State by a 35-24 margin; Minnesota is 19-4-3 when outshooting
Minnesota is 17-0-5 when scoring the first goal of a game this season.
With his second goal of the game in the second period, it’s Justin Kloos’ first multi-goal game of the season and his collegiate career, and his seventh multi-point game of the season/career (Minnesota is 6-0-1).
With his second assist later in the game, it marks Nate Condon’s sixth game in which he has recorded multiple points this season (Minnesota is 6-0-0) and 21st multi-point game in his career (Minnesota is 16-4-1). It’s his third game with multiple assists this season (Minnesota is 3-0-0).
Minnesota took a 2-0 lead at the 3:48 mark of the second period, when Seth Ambroz scored his 14th goal of the season, assisted by Jake Parenteau (third assist) and Travis Boyd (21st assist).
With an assist later in the game, it marks Travis Boyd’s third multi-assist game of the season (Minnesota is 3-0-0) and his seventh multi-point game of the season (Minnesota is 7-0-0).
It is the 13th game in which Kyle Rau has scored a goal for the Gophers this season; Minnesota is 10-1-2 in those games. It marks the 27th game of his 39 this season in which Kyle Rau scored a goal or assist; Minnesota is 20-3-4 in those games. He has recorded a goal or assist in 80 of his 119 career games; Minnesota is 64-10-6 in those games, including a 43-5-5 mark over the last two seasons. Rau has recorded a point in 12 of his last 16 games (eight goals, seven assists, 15 points), including five goals and two assists in his last seven games. Rau now has 47 goals and 74 assists for 120 points in his Gopher career.
St. Cloud State
This is St. Cloud State’s 10th appearance in the NCAA Division I tournament, and is now 4-11 all-time in NCAA tournament games.
This is St. Cloud State’s third appearance in an NCAA Division I regional final. On March 27, 2010, the Huskies lost 5-3 to Wisconsin in a regional final game at Xcel Energy Center, and on March 31, 2013, the Huskies topped Miami (Ohio) 4-1 in a regional final game at Toledo, Ohio.
This is St. Cloud State’s fourth game in an NCAA regional at the Xcel Energy Center, previously appearing in St. Paul in 2010. The Huskies topped Northern Michigan 4-3 in two overtimes on March 26, 2010, and lost 5-3 to Wisconsin on March 27, 2010.
St. Cloud State is now 8-13-0 all-time in games played at the Xcel Energy Center dating to the 2000-01 season, including seven appearances in the WCHA tournament, two appearances in the NCAA tournament and three regular-season games. The Huskies went 1-1 at the North Star College Cup on Jan. 24-25 at Xcel Energy Center, losing 4-1 to Minnesota and beating Minnesota State Mankato 6-4.
Minnesota’s 3-0 lead marked the first time that St. Cloud State has trailed by a 3-0 score this season. The Huskies have surrendered three or more straight goals by opponents nine times this season; the Huskies are 2-5-2 in those games.
St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko is now 10-15-3 in games against Minnesota in his nine seasons with the Huskies. He now has a 184-136-40 career coaching record with the Huskies.
St. Cloud State finished its season at 22-11-5 overall, marking the second straight year, and fifth in coach Bob Motzko’s nine-year tenure, that the Huskies have recorded 20-plus wins in a season.
It’s just the second time St. Cloud State has been shut out this season, the other being a 2-0 loss to Miami on Nov. 8 in St. Cloud.
Gophers postgame video To view on mobile device, click “View on full site” at bottom of page.