St. John's named Pat McKenzie as the men's basketball coaching successor to Jim Smith, who retired last month after 51 seasons heading the program. McKenzie is a former Johnnies player who spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Smith.

"I am beyond appreciative for both the opportunity to lead this program as well as the outpouring of support I have received from so many," McKenzie said in a statement.

St. John's finished fifth or better in the 11-team MIAC in eight of the past nine seasons with McKenzie in a leadership role.

U signs three in men's hockey

Forwards Brent Gates Jr. and Darian Romanko and goaltender Eric Schierhorn signed national letters of intent to play for the Gophers men's hockey team on Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period. Gates plays for the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, Romanko for the NAHL's Minnesota Wilderness and Schierhorn for the USHL's Muskegon Lumbejacks.

Forward Mitch Hults of the USHL's Madison Capitols is expected to sign and complete the class.

The Gophers have yet to officially announce their spring signings.

Minnesota signed six recruits in the fall — forwards Ryan Norman, Tommy Novak, Jack Ramsey and Tyler Sheehy, defenseman Jack Sadek and goaltender Logan Halladay.

Don't expect all 10 who signed to be on campus next fall. The coaching staff still has to sort through the team's needs after losing six contributing seniors and three junior standouts in goalie Adam Wilcox and defensemen Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei. In total, they lost five forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. The chances of more early departures are slim.



Jackie Johnson, a forward who left the Gophers women's basketball team, will play for Loyola Marymount, that school announced. She will sit out the 2015-16 season.

 Hunter Heck, the No. 6 seed from New Brighton, beat Jameson Corsillo, No. 2 from Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 6-2 to win the Boys' 12s singles title at the 48th annual ASICS Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif. "I had a lot of nerves before the match. but it goes away once I start playing," said Heck, a seventh-grader listed on Mounds View's high school roster.

• Gophers swimmer Jessica Plant received the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to one female Big Ten senior pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership. Plant swam on the 800-yard freestyle relay which won a conference title.