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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Gophers ring in the New Year with No. 1 ranking; Haula week to week; CBA update

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers, Wild off-season news Updated: December 31, 2012 - 5:38 PM


The 13-3-3 Gophers' men's hockey team jumped three spots in the rankings today to overtake Boston College for the No. 1 team in the nation in the USCHO.com poll.

This was thanks to an 8-1 pasting of the now second-ranked Eagles on Sunday night to win the Mariucci Classic.

So the fifth-place team (three points behind St. Cloud State with two games in hand) in the WCHA is No. 1 in the country.

Nick Bjugstad scored a career-high four points, Kyle Rau had two goals and an assist and 12 Gophers had points, including goalie Adam Wilcox, who made a career-high 32 saves.

The bad news though is Wild prospect Erik Haula left the game in the third period after being slashed across his hands.

Coach Don Lucia emailed me tonight that Haula is week to week with an upper-body injury and is doubtful for the Gophers' Jan. 8 game against Notre Dame.

I am hearing from multiple sources that Haula, the Gophers' most consistent forward this season, has a potential fracture in one of his fingers. A few years back, another Finnish center, one that's captain of the Minnesota Wild, missed a month when he broke a digit.

Again, the Gophers don't play next until Jan. 8 against No. 3 Notre Dame. That could feature a father-son battle between Don Lucia's Gophers and Notre Dame freshman Mario Lucia.

Despite the U.S. world junior team expected back into the country only the day before, one would assume Mario Lucia will want to be in the lineup.

However, Don Lucia said before the holiday tournament that he will likely give freshman defenseman Mike Reilly, who scored the winning goal in the Americans' 9-3 win over Slovakia today, the game off to rest for the weekend series Jan. 11-12 against Alaska-Anchorage.

In NHL lockout news, the NHLPA tendered a counterproposal today. Talks are done as the NHL reviews the counter. The two sides plan to get together New Year's Day. Maybe their New Year's resolution is to play hockey this year.

In Wild news, Torrey Mitchell has signed with the ECHL San Francisco Bulls.

Remember, I'll be hosting for Common on KFAN from 12-3 on Wednesday, so please tune in.

Happy New Year everybody!

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St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 4 FINAL
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