Taylor Matson, one of seven Gophers who will be seniors next season, was voted the team's captain.

He succeeds Jay Barriball, a former teammate of his at Holy Angels Academy. Matson played junior hockey for Des Moines of the USHL.

Other projected seniors next season are forwards Jake Hansen (11 goals), Nick Larson (five), Joe Miller (none) and Nico Sacchetti (three); and goalies Kent Patterson and Jake Kremer.

The team's top returning scorer will be Erik Haula, who had six goals and 18 assists for 24 points as a freshman.

"It is a tremendous honor to be named captain of men's hockey aty the University of Minnesota and one I take very seriously," Matson said in a news release the university sent out.

"A lot of great players have held this responsibility before me, and I will do my best to lead and make sure that the team is ready to play every night."

Hmm. That last part of his quote is interesting. Early in the season and again in the first game against Alaska Anchorage in the playoffs, the Gophers came out flat. They had a losing record at home, 9-10-3, which is practically unheard of.

If he can get the Gophers to play hard at the start of every game, he will be off to a great start as captain.

Last season Matson, of Mound, scored a career-high 10 goals in 33 games. He had four goals in his final six games before suffering a lower body injury in the next to last game of the regular season at Bemidji State.

He missed the Gophers' next game at Bemidji State and their two playoff losses to the Seawolves. Matson finished with 13 points.

The 6-0, 186-pound Matson missed much bigger chunks of his first two seasons as a Gopher.

As a freshman, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in his 13 games. As a sophomore, he played 19 games, then missed the next 20 with an ankle injury.

"Taylor will be an excellent captain for us next season," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "There is a reason why his teammates vote him the Mike Crupi most determined player each of the past two seasons and it is because nobody works or compete harder. I look forward to him leading by example both on and off the ice next season."

In 65 career games, Taylor had 13 goals, six assists and only 24 penalty minutes. He has been a valuable penalty killer during his career and is one of the team's fastest skater.

Last season he played on the first, third and fourth lines and played both center and a winger.

He is the 149th captain or assistant captain at the U.

Presumably the Gophers will name one, two or thee assistant captains later. Last season the Gophers had three ACs: goalie Alex Kangas, forward Mike Hoeffel and defenseman Aaron Ness, who got his "A" early in the season.

Matson has always seem pretty quiet and humble in his three seasons at the U. Maybe that's why Lucia said he will lead by example. It would probably be good if at least one of the assistant captains was more of a loud, gritty player.


Junior goalie Kent Patterson of the Gophers was named the male breakthrough player of the year on Monday at the Golden Goldys at TCF Bank Stadium. The Goldys are modeled after ESPN's ESPYs.

Amanda Kessel of the women's hockey team was named the female rookie of the year. Keseel led the Gophers in points with 50 and was named the WCHA rookie of the year. Teammate Kelly Blankenship received the McNamara student-athlete achievement award.

Patterson was the MVP of the men's hockey team and was named to the all-WCHA second team,


UMD coach Scott Sandelin has been givepermission to talk to Penn State about its coaching post.  Sandelin, who led the Bulldogs to the national title this season, has one year remaining on his contract.

The Nittany Lions are starting a varsity men's program in 2012-13 and will play in a new on-campus arena in 2013-14 when Penn State joins the Big Ten Conference.

* Also, North Dakota's All-America sophomore goalie Aaron Dell announced he was staying in school.