Sunday, November 19, 2017

Game Story: Tyler Sheehy scores in OT as Gophers sweep Harvard (Zone Coverage)

On shot No. 44, Merrick Madsen made his first mistake.

He didn’t make many Saturday night in a game where Minnesota continuously tested the Crimson defense. Unfortunately for Madsen, Rem Pitlick made him pay for it on shot No. 45.

Minnesota outshot the 13th-ranked Crimson 50-16 at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Gophers needed all 50 shots to solve the Harvard goaltender, who made few mistakes Saturday. Junior captain Tyler Sheehy set off the home crowd with his game-winning goal 35 seconds into overtime in a 2-1 win and series sweep.

“That one felt good. That was one of my favorite goals I’ve scored just because we deserved to win tonight and so coming out with anything less than a win would have been unacceptable,” said Sheehy.

Madsen stopped a Tommy Novak redirection early in the first period to set the tone for Saturday’s game. No. 7 Minnesota (9-4-1, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten) outshot the Crimson 16-7 in the first period, but neither team was able to score a goal.

“It was one of those games where sometimes the goaltender has something to say about who is going to win the game,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said about Madsen, who finished with a career-high 48 saves. “He’s an elite goalie. He’s been that his whole career.”

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Game Story: Gopher Women Jump for Joy in Sweeping St. Cloud State (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- She jumped for joy. Sixteen games into her freshman season, Minnesota defender Emily Brown had her first collegiate goal.

Coming 6:04 into the third period, Brown’s goal opened the offensive floodgates Saturday at Ridder Arena. Teammate Nicole Schammel scored twice and the Gophers defeated St. Cloud State 4-3 for its first home sweep of the season.

“Any time you can get six points, especially in the WCHA, in one weekend is a huge deal. To walk away and go into this next week with six points under our belt is definitely important,” said Brown.

Despite a perfect 8-0 road record, the Gophers (11-4-1, 8-3-1-0 WCHA) had struggled at Ridder Arena.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-Harvard Saturday Line Combinations, TV, Radio & More

Harvard (2-4-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) at #7 Minnesota (8-4-1, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten)

Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North PLUS
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go/TSN Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: The Athletic/Zone Coverage/Wellsociated Press

Last night's recap: Casey Mittelstadt & Minnesota Get Highlight-Reel Win Over #13 Harvard (Zone Coverage)

Winners of six straight at home, Minnesota is finding comfort in the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena.

While Harvard head coach Ted Donato did not make an excuse, he did believe it took his team some time to get used to the Olympic-sized ice sheet.

"(Minnesota's) a good hockey team, but hopefully we'll be a little better tomorrow," he said. "I think there's an adjustment for any team who comes to the big ice surface and they certainly have guys who can get around the ice well and get you out of your zone skating. That's not something that is surprising to us."

Adjustment or not, everything clicked Friday for Minnesota through forty minutes. The Gophers left the ice leading 4-0 and kept a speedy Harvard team in check.

"I don't know if it was the best, but we did a pretty good job other than if we turned the puck over and some vulnerable errors that could get us in trouble. Harvard's got such good speed that they are going to come back at you," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. "We did a good job at getting sticks on pucks and blocking shots."

Now in Saturday's rematch, both teams believe they can improve upon last night's results. Donato would like to see his team get off to a better start and be better on both ends of special teams. Harvard went 0-4 on the power play Friday night and didn't test Gopher goaltender Eric Schierhorn.

As for Minnesota?

"We need to do the same tomorrow and not even let them get a couple goals in there and close a little better," Rem Pitlick said Friday.

Line Combinations:

For the fourth time this season, Minnesota goes with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Nate Knoepke makes his second appearance of the season while Ryan Norman sits to make room. (Jack Glover was healthy when I asked Wednesday.)

"From a defensive standpoint, (7D) allows us to get one of the freshmen involved in the game with the comfort of knowing that one of the veterans is still availble to us," Lucia said. "From a forward standpoint it allows us to mix and match.

"We've scored the most goals when we've played 11 instead of 12. It allows us to get our top guys out a little more."

Although the Gophers twice scored six goals when utilizing 11 forwards, the third time saw Minnesota shut out against North Dakota.

Harvard makes one change wth Mitchell Perrault replacing Ferederic Gregoire on the fourth line.

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

Brent Gates Jr. (#10) - Tommy Novak (#17) - Tyler Sheehy (#22)
Rem Pitlick (#15) - Casey Mittelstadt (#21) -  Brannon McManus (#7)
Leon Bristedt (#18) - Mike Szmatula (#9) - Scott Reedy (#19)
 Darian Romanko (#26) - Jack Ramsey (#16)

Ryan Lindgren (#5) - Jack Sadek (#2)
Steve Johnson (#4) - Tyler Nanne (#29)
Sam Rossini (#28) - Ryan Zuhlsdorf (#20)
Nate Knoepke (#24)

Eric Schierhorn (#37)
Brock Kautz (#1)
Nick Lehr (#34)

Harvard University Crimson

Henry Bowlby (#28) - Ryan Donato (#16) - Lewis Zerter-Gossage (#77)
Seb Lloyd (#15) - Jake Horton (#19) - Michael Floodstrand (#44)
Ty Pelton-Byce (#17) - Jack Badini (#33) - Nathan Krusko (#13)
Benjamin Solin (#11) - Eddie Ellis (#7) - Mitchell Perrault (#9)

Wiley Sherman (#25) - John Marino (#12)
Jacob Olson (#26) - Adam Fox (#18)
Adam Baughman (#20) - Reilly Walsh (#2)

Merrick Madsen (#31)
Michael Lackey (#35)
Cameron Gornet (#32)

Game Story: Casey Mittelstadt, Minnesota Get Highlight-Reel Win Over #13 Harvard (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- Casey Mittelstadt bounced right back from a rough weekend. So did the Gophers.

Minnesota scored four times in the first two periods Friday, and held on for a 4-2 victory over No. 13 Harvard to get back in the win column. Mittelstadt, held off the scoresheet last weekend versus Michigan, finished with two points and a highlight-reel goal in the second period against Crimson goaltender Merrick Madsen.

“Obviously, there’s going to be times where you don’t play your best, and for us that might have been last weekend,” said Mittelstadt. “We came out and tried to play with pace, make plays and when we do that we play pretty well.”

Facing a Harvard team (2-4-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) that made the 2017 Frozen Four, the seventh-ranked Gophers (8-4-1, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten) put together one of its best performances of the season during the first two periods.

Minnesota’s defense was able to hold a speedy Crimson attack at bay while limiting turnovers. Eric Schierhorn made 26 saves in goal for the Gophers. Meanwhile, the team’s penalty kill went 4-4.

“I thought Eric played well tonight,” said head coach Don Lucia. “Our penalty kill has been good. They were dialed in and, if we had to make a save, Eric made it.”

Click here to read the rest!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-Harvard Friday Line Combinations, TV, Radio & More

Harvard (2-3-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) at #7 Minnesota (7-4-1, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten)

Date: November 17, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North PLUS/TSN5 in Canada
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: The Athletic/Zone Coverage/Wellsociated Press

"That's the million dollar question."

Said by Don Lucia earlier this week, the Gopher head coach was responding to the question "how do you pull the positives all together?" Minnesota has found success on defense, allowing 2 and 1 goals against in back-to-back weekends, as well as offense, scoring 10 goals in 2 games.

However, the two have yet to go together in the same weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jared Moe commits to Minnesota

New Prauge, MN's Jared Moe verbally committed Wednesday (November 15, 2017) to Minnesota.

The 1999 born Moe, currently playing goaltender for Waterloo of the USHL where he's teammates with commits Sam Huff and Garrett Wait, fills a need in the Gopher pipeline. Prior to Wednesday, Minnesota did not have a goalie verbally committed for the future.

Listed at 6'3", 205 lbs, Moe is splitting time in net with Philadelphia Flyers draft pick and former UND goaltender Matej Tomek. When he plays, he has been one of the USHL's top goaltenders in the opening two months of the season. (One scout I spoke with called him a "top-three goalie in the league this season.") Moe is second in the league behind Tri-City's Filip Larsson in both save percentage (.946%) and GAA (1.44 goals per game). He has two shutouts for the Black Hawks in seven appearances.

Moe played high school hockey at Holy Family prior to Waterloo. He is expected on campus in fall 2019 once current starting goaltender Eric Schierhorn graduates.

Recent Gopher men's hockey verbal commitments:
-Joe Miller - Minneapolis
-Noah Tussey - Stillwater
-Nick Williams - Edina
-Rhett Pitlick - Chaska
-Jake Braccini - Buffalo
-Chaz and Cruz Lucius

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Podcast: That Gopher Hockey Puckcast Episode 8

On this week's That Gopher Hockey Puckcast, "Daily Sports Reporter" Drew Cove signs a newspaper for producer Tom Schreier. They also discuss hockey.

Nate returns from Ann Arbor where he witnessed Minnesota's disappointing weekend against Michigan. Along with Drew and Tom, they touch on the Gophers being unable to hold on to 3-0 and 4-0 leads, along with what went wrong and some positives to take away from the OT loss and tie to the Wolverines.

They also answer your questions, discuss commits and preview this weekend's series against Harvard.

Those wondering what 90's jersey Giles was wearing can directly download here.

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes. While you're at it, please leave a review and give us five stars.

Plugs and stuff

-Drew can be found on Twitter @covedrew and covers Minnesota men's hockey and football for the Minnesota Daily.

-Nate can be found here on this website and at The Athletic (as well as every other website if the various links here don't make clear). You can follow him on Twitter @gopherstate and like/subscribe to his Facebook page.

Feature: Gopher hockey loses its finishing touch in disappointing weekend at Michigan (The Athletic)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If Minnesota needed a reminder of the cliché “you’re only as good as your last game,” the team got one this past weekend.

Entering a two-game series against Michigan and new head coach Mel Pearson, the Gophers were 7-1-0 on the season when leading after two periods, with seven consecutive wins. Consistently finishing close games had been a point of pride for head coach Don Lucia.

That all went out one of Yost Ice Arena’s many windows this weekend. Any goodwill built up over seven wins was lost in a span of two nights.

Minnesota left Ann Arbor back at square one in closing out games. Twice Minnesota jumped out to at least a 3-0 lead. Twice the Wolverines were able to come back, winning 5-4 in overtime Friday and tying 6-6 Saturday.

“That’s not the result that we want,” Minnesota captain Tyler Sheehy told The Athletic. “Eleven goals (given up) on a weekend is not Gopher hockey. We have to get back to Gopher hockey as a whole.”

Click here to read the rest! (Subscription Required)

Game Story: Minnesota hangs on to tie Michigan (Zone Coverage)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.- Yost Arena was eerily quiet in the third period before the comeback.

Before another comeback.

For a second consecutive evening, the Gophers could not hold onto a large lead on the road against Michigan and ended up tying Saturday, 6-6.

Minnesota was ahead 4-0 in the second period, having chased Wolverines goaltender Jack LaFontaine in favor of Hayden Lavigne. The Gophers led 6-3 with under seven minutes remaining. The Wolverines (6-3-1, 2-1-1-0 Big Ten), however, were able to claw back. Tony Calderone’s second goal of the night with 1:12 remaining in regulation capped a third-period Michigan flurry.

“We gave up 10, 11 shots in the third and three went in,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia after the game. “Eric (Schierhorn) has played so well this year and he had a hard time finding some pucks tonight. It happens. If it was one of those third periods where the shots were 20-5 and we were getting our ears pinned back, that’s really not what happened. It was one shot deals that went in.”

Click here to read the rest!

Game Story: Michigan completes comeback, bounces Minnesota in OT (Zone Coverage)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.- Michigan’s Alex Roos took a puck to his helmet that was a punch to the gut of Minnesota.

The thwack of a puck bouncing off plastic saved Roos’ noggin. As a consequence, it ricocheted into the back of the net for a 5-4 defeat for the Gophers at Yost Ice Arena. His overtime power-power play goal 3:24 into the extra period was the first and only lead Michigan had all night as the Gophers could not hold onto a 3-0 lead in Big Ten conference play.

“That’s one of the more disappointing ways to lose. Just being up, having a great start and our own mistakes killing us and letting them back in the game,” said Minnesota junior Tommy Novak after a three-point (one goal, two assists) night.

The Wolverines took advantage of Minnesota turnovers and penalties. Twice the Gophers were called for penalties in the final four minutes of regulation and overtime — much to the dismay of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.

“Those are giveaways. You just can’t give away the puck and shorten the rink. We did a really good job before that,” he said. “Their first goal was their first scoring chance against in the second period. We just had the game we wanted and then let them back in.”

Click here to read the rest!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Podcast: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 7

On this week's extended That Gopher Hockey Puckast, Nate and Drew pat themselves on the back for talking college hockey.

First, they discuss Minnesota's sweep over Michigan State last weekend. Topics include Eric Schierhorn's play against the Spartans and throughout the first 10 games, quick starts, Tyler Sheehy getting his first goal, more offense from the blue line, and where the line can be drawn in celebrating a goal.

Then, Paula Weston comes on the show to lend her expertise on this week's opponent, Michigan. She gives the low down on the current state of the Wolverines, the transition from Red Berenson to Mel Pearson, potential 2018 first round pick Quinn Hughes, who is surprising and much more. Paula also discusses the rest of the Big Ten and what she thinks of Notre Dame joining the conference.

Finally, Nate and Drew, joined by producer Tom Schreier, dip into the mailbag and answer questions on the Pairwise, Minnesota continuing its four game win streak and which is weirder: kicking a player or scoring a goal from your butt?

Those trying to high-five their opponents can directly download here.

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes. While you're at it, please leave a review and give us five stars.

Plugs and stuff

-Paula is a Michigan-based writer who covers the Big Ten for She can be found on Twitter @paulacweston.

-Drew can be found on Twitter @covedrew and covers Minnesota men's hockey and football for the Minnesota Daily. His most recent feature, mentioned on the show, is on Casey Mittelstadt.

-Nate can be found here on this website and at The Athletic (as well as every other website if the various links here don't make clear). You can follow him on Twitter @gopherstate and like/subscribe to his Facebook page.

The two #weirdhockey plays mentioned on the show.

BC sophomore goaltender Joe Woll's kicking game DQ

Northern Michigan's Robbie Payne scoring a butt goal.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Game Story: Strong Start Propels Gophers to Sweep of Michigan State (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- Aware of the quick turnaround Saturday afternoon, Minnesota worked to avoid an early letdown against Michigan State in the team’s second game in less than 24 hours. The Gophers were prepared early and used a strong start to propel the team to a series sweep.

Minnesota scored twice in the game’s opening 10:15 while Eric Schierhorn made 21 saves to help lead his team to a 4-0 shutout win over the Spartans at Mariucci Arena.

With the victory, the Gophers (7-3-0, 3-1-0-0 Big Ten) have won four straight games after beginning the season with three split weekends. They are the first team this season to sweep a two-game series in Big Ten conference play.

“It feels good,” said Schierhorn, who got his 10th career shutout in his 50th career win. “We haven’t played the best in these four games, but if you’re winning nothing else matters. It’s good to know that we can win and not play our best. It’s good for our confidence.”

Click here to read the rest!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pregame Blog: 3 Thoughts From Friday, Minnesota-Michigan State Line Saturday Combinations & More

Michigan State (4-3-0, 0-1-0-0 Big Ten) at #5 Minnesota (6-3-0, 2-1-0-0 Big Ten)

Date: November 4, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm CT - NOTE THE EARLY TIME
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: Zone Coverage and The Athletic

Last night's recap: Ryan Lindgren, Minnesota D shine in win
Pregame Listening: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 6

Game Story: Ryan Lindgren, Minnesota D shines in 3-1 win over Michigan State (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- At the same end of the Mariucci Arena rink where he had to be helped off the last time Michigan State was in town, a healthy Ryan Lindgren spun, fell to the ice and got back up. The Gopher sophomore defenseman could celebrate this time around.

He had scored a goal.

Minnesota (6-3-0, 2-1-0-0 Big Ten) added two more Friday and get help from its defense in a 3-1 victory over the Spartans.

“I thought our D were active tonight,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “They were much more assertive in their play, something we’ve really tried to get them more involved from an offensive standpoint so it was nice to see them score the goal.”

It began early Friday on No. 5 Minnesota’s first shot of the game. Lindgren and junior defenseman Jack Sadek, part of a Gopher blue line that had two total goals this season, combined for the team’s opening goal 3:22 into the game.

Lindgren, whose freshman season ended last March when he broke his leg trying to beat out an icing call against MSU’s Taro Hirose, hustled to the net.

Click here to read the rest!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-Michigan State Friday line combinations, TV Schedule & More

Michigan State (4-2-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) at #5 Minnesota (5-3-0, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten)

Date: November 3, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North/Fox Sports Detroit Plus
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: Zone Coverage and The Athletic

Pregame Listening: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 6

Greetings once again from snowy Minneapolis, where fall, we hardly knew you.

Gophers dress up for Halloween and balance serious prep with fun

On Tuesday, Nicole Schammel dressed up as a millennial for practice.

“It was kind of a funny costume, making fun of myself,” said Schammel, whose costume entailed being taped up with fragile stickers and a handwritten sign across her chest saying, “Millennial. I’m offended.” It got some laughs among her unoffended, millennial teammates.

They were dressed up as well. #6 Minnesota, coming off two losses to Wisconsin and being swept at home by anyone for the first time in seven years, chose to celebrate Halloween and practice all at once. The afternoon saw an entire lineup of costumed characters.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Noah Tussey and Joe Miller commit to Minnesota

Author's note: This might be old news for some, but I wanted to give Tussey and Miller their moment nonetheless. Sorry for the lateness.

The Gophers picked up a pair of verbal commits Saturday (October 28, 2017) from 2002-born Minnesota forwards. Both Noah Tussey and Joe Miller made their announcements via Twitter.




Tussey, a Stillwater native, is considered to be one of the top players in the state among his age group. He's a top-end skater with good hands and ability to score. He'll be going to Stillwater for high school.

Miller, not to be confused with this Joe Miller, hails from Minneapolis. He played club hockey for the Minnesota Blades (the youngest on the team) and will play high school hockey for Blake. He's another player skilled with the puck despite his 5'5", 120 lbs stature. Obviously players as young as Miller and Tussey can and will grow in size - as an example, Rem Pitlick was 5'3" when he committed to Minnesota.

Both players are expected on campus in 2021 at the earliest. They join defensemen Nick Williams and Jake Ratzlaff as 2002-born Gopher verbal commits.

Recent Gopher hockey verbal commitments:
-Nick Williams - Edina (men's)
-Rhett Pitlick - Chaska (men's)
-Jake Braccini - Buffalo (men's)
-Chaz and Cruz Lucius (men's)
-Aaron Huglen - Roseau (men's)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Podcast: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 6

The Gophers finally got a sweep this season and Nate Wells and Drew Cove are here to talk about it in this week's That Gopher Hockey Puckcast.

The two dive into Minnesota's performance in two wins against then-No. 9 Clarkson. They discuss the impact freshmen Casey Mittelstadt and Scott Reedy in their return from injuries, the power play breaking its drought, getting more scoring from seniors and the lineup, and the play of Eric Schierhorn. Wells and Cove also preview this weekend's series against Michigan State and first year head coach Danton Cole, along with what surprises them nationally after the first month of college hockey.

Those debating the ethics of cloning a team of Casey Mittelstadts can directly download here.

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes.

Plugs and stuff

-Drew can be found on Twitter @covedrew and covers Minnesota men's hockey and football for the Minnesota Daily.

-Nate can be found here on this website and at The Athletic (as well as every other website if the various links here don't make clear). You can follow him on Twitter @gopherstate and like/subscribe to his Facebook page.

Feature: Shorthanded Gopher women keep learning lessons as No. 1 Wisconsin looms (The Athletic)

Returning home to Ridder Arena from a difficult four-game road trip, Minnesota enters the end of October a different team than the one that began the month.

The Gophers face top-ranked Wisconsin Saturday and Sunday on the heels of a four-game winning streak. Along the way, Minnesota (5-2-1, 4-1-1-0 WCHA) swept two in-state foes in two tough environments. The team won a pair of games at Bemidji State before sweeping Minnesota Duluth last weekend, coming back from a 1-0 deficit Saturday with two third-period goals for a 2-1 victory.

Throughout October, Minnesota has been slowly finding its own identity.

“It’s a process. We’re learning a little bit more about that each game, each day that we practice,” senior defender Sydney Baldwin said. “I think we’re just becoming a really gritty team, just fighting back, keep moving forward and getting better each day and keep playing our hardest.”

Baldwin and Minnesota's lessons in self-discovery began early.

Click here to read the rest! (Subscription Required)

Author's note: I wrote this before the weekend series against Wisconsin. Keep that in mind.

Game Story: Minnesota Women's Hockey Swept by Wisconsin in Overtime Loss (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- Sidney Peters said it happened both pretty quickly and frustratingly slow.

In an instant, the Gopher goaltender saw Wisconsin’s Baylee Wellhausen celebrate a goal and Sunday’s game all in one. The Badger senior forward scored 1:32 into overtime to hand Minnesota a 2-1 loss at Ridder Arena.

“She shot it and I kind of got a piece of [the puck] with my blocker,” Peters said of the overtime goal. “It bounced a few times, bouncing off my shoulder and into the net. It’s a frustrating way to get scored on because I watched it in slow motion.”

A moment earlier, the Gophers (5-4-1, 4-3-1-0 WCHA) nearly won the game when Nicole Schammel’s point-blank shot was saved by Wisconsin goaltender Kristen Campbell. It proved to be the difference in an intense and sometimes chippy Border Battle rivalry.

While Minnesota got off to a better start Sunday, holding the Badgers off the scoresheet in the first period, the end result was the same. The home team played with undefeated and top-ranked Wisconsin (12-0-0, 6-0-0-0 WCHA) for much of the game, but could not get a go-ahead goal.

Click here to read the rest!

Game Story: Gopher Seniors Score First Goals as Minnesota Gets First Season Sweep (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- October closes with a sweep.

Beginning the season with three weekends where No. 7 Minnesota won one game and lost one, the Gophers found some consistency this weekend against No. 9 Clarkson. For the first time this year, the team won twice in a weekend.

Seniors Leon Bristedt and Mike Szmatula each scored a power-play goal Saturday to help lead Minnesota to a 2-1 win over the Golden Knights.

“Early on we were struggling trying to find our identity. I think the older guys kind of put that on ourselves,” Szmatula said. “We know we’re going to go through some tough times and it’s just about you keep getting back up when you get knocked down.”

No players felt more comfortable Saturday night than Szmatula and Bristedt — and for good reason. Both had yet to score a goal this season entering the game.

Click here to read the rest!

Game Recap: Gopher Women Fall Short Against Top-Ranked Wisconsin (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- Tying the game a third time was one too many for Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing top-ranked Wisconsin from the opening minute, the Gophers got back in the game, but were unable to get a lead. The Badgers scored late with a goal by 2016 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Presley Norby and held on for a 3-2 victory at Ridder Arena in the first of two games between the WCHA title mainstays.

Junior forward Sophie Skarzynski had tied the game for Minnesota earlier in the third period with her fourth goal of the season.

“I was really happy again with tying it up in the third and finding a way to get that one. There’s no question you always want to use that momentum to get the next one,” said Minnesota head coach Brad Frost. “We had our chances, but we weren’t able to get over the hump.”

Both goal lights got a workout early. Featuring two of the nation’s top-11 offenses, Minnesota (5-3-1, 4-2-1-0 WCHA) and Wisconsin scored on three of the game’s five shots.

Click here to read the rest!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-Clarkson Saturday Line Combinations, TV Schedule + More

#9 Clarkson (4-2-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) at #7 Minnesota (4-3-0, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten)

Date: October 28, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North Plus (AVAILABLE in Twin Cities)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: Zone Coverage

One aspect of Friday's win that I didn't explore much in my game recap was Minnesota's discipline.

Game Story: Gopher Hockey Freshmen Return; Lead Minnesota Over #9 Clarkson (Zone Coverage)

MINNEAPOLIS- As a rule, Minnesota men’s hockey freshmen cannot talk to the press during the month of October.

They can, however, let their sticks do the talking.

There is no rule against freshmen contributing on the ice, which was the case Friday for the Gophers in a late October home victory over a top-10 opponent. Freshmen forwards Scott Reedy and Casey Mittelstadt played major roles in No. 7 Minnesota’s 3-1 win over No. 9 Clarkson as both returned from missing time with injuries.

Reedy broke open a scoreless game in the second period with his second career goal. Mittelstadt, meanwhile, assisted on the play. He finished with two assists for his first official multi-point game.

“They’re obviously important players. It’s important to get them back,” said sophomore Rem Pitlick, who scored a goal for Minnesota. “We have guys who stepped up and played well in their spots, but you go down two good players like that it’s always tough and to have them back was great.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota vs Clarkson lines, TV Schedule, Gopher expectations + More

#9 Clarkson (4-1-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) at #7 Minnesota (3-2-0, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten)

Date: October 27, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North Plus (AVAILABLE in Twin Cities)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: Zone Coverage

Pregame Reading/Listening: 
-Casey Mittelstadt/Scott Reedy updates; Justin Kloos NHL debut
-Gophers' return to North Dakota mixes old and new in college hockey's best rivalry (The Athletic)
-That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 5

Greetings from snowy Minnesota where we've gone from 90 degrees to snow in a span of five weeks.

Not having played the Gophers in Minneapolis since 1990 in the old building, Clarkson makes its first visit to Minnesota since the 2013 Ice Breaker. The Golden Gophers are 4-0-0 all-time against the Golden Knights, including a 4-3 comeback OT victory last year at Cheel Arena.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

BLOG: Updates on Casey Mittelstadt and Scott Reedy; Justin Kloos makes NHL Debut

Casey Mittelstadt is "50/50" to play against Clarkson this weekend.

The freshman forward did skate Wednesday, dealing with an upper body injury. Mittelstadt, who has 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games, was kept out of Saturday's 4-0 loss to North Dakota as a precaution after being cross-checked during Friday's 2-1 victory, according to Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.

"He'll skate (Thursday). I would say he's 50/50. We'll see where he's at come Friday night," Lucia said.

Lucia also said that Mittelstadt wanted to play. At this point of the season, however, the team would rather error on the side of caution.

Podcast: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 5

Two guests join me for episode 5 of That Gopher Hockey Puckast.

First, Josh Seguin of College Hockey News helps preview Clarkson before they face the Gopher men at Mariucci Arena. We discuss the Golden Knights' 4-1-1 fast start, #9 rating, Eden Prairie, MN native Jake Kielly's play in net, how the ECAC shapes up and Josh drops some knowledge on new Wisconsin goaltender Kyle Hayton, who previously played 3 seasons at St. Lawrence.

Next, Nicole Haase of USCHO and The Victory Press, among other outlets, lends her expertise. She and I preview #6 Minnesota women hosting #1 Wisconsin at Ridder Arena on Saturday and Sunday. Topics include: The Badgers continuing their run of goalies, what to take from a 10-0-0 start, reloading vs. rebuilding, some first month surprises throughout the college hockey landscape and end with some USA-Canada talk in the lead up to the Olympics.

Those feeling old seeing players they covered now coaching can directly download here.

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes.

Plugs and stuff:

You can follow Drew on Twitter @covedrew. Nate can be found @gopherstate.

Josh covers ECAC for College Hockey News. His latest there is a feature on Quinnipiac being CHN's Team of the Week. You can find him on Twitter @JoshSeguin24.

Nicole is a D1 and D3 women's hockey columnist for USCHO while also doing features for The Victory Press. Her latest at USCHO deals with Wisconsin's 10-0-0 start. You can find her on Twitter sharing dog and koala photos @nicolehaase.

Feature: Gophers' return to North Dakota mixes old and new for college hockey's best rivalry (The Athletic)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — As a kid, Ryan Norman never had much use for the North Dakota jersey his father bought him. Being different, he put on Gopher gear to wear at the rink, having developed a bond with that team.

“We had a little bit of a rivalry growing up because I always liked cheering against him,” Norman told The Athletic of his father Todd, who played at UND from 1984-86. “I thought that it was funny to grind his gears a little bit when we would watch those games together as a kid.”

This past weekend the junior forward put on Gopher gear once again, this time a member of the team, as Minnesota made the 300-plus mile trek to North Dakota's Ralph Engelstad Arena for the first time since January 2012. None of the players on either team had participated in one. They didn’t personally know the chilling tales of snowballs thrown at buses. Many of their experiences came from growing up watching games and seeing clips on YouTube.

Five years had passed since Ben Blood and Kyle Rau’s bad-blood handshake was the final image of Gopher-UND games in Grand Forks.

“Everyone getting together at someone’s house, or trying to get tickets to the game and there’s always a brawl in any game it seemed like,” said Jack Ramsey, whose father Mike helped Minnesota win the 1979 national championship against the then-Fighting Sioux. “If your friend was cheering for North Dakota, you hated him for that week. Thinking of Gopher hockey games growing up, North Dakota games were the biggest ones to look forward to.”

Read the rest here (subscription required)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gophers commit Clayton Phillips traded to Muskegon

Clayton Phillips is now a member of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

The Edina, MN native and Minnesota defenseman verbal commit was traded Tuesday from the Fargo Force (USHL) to Muskegon. The Lumberjacks received Phillips and a 9th round 2018 USHL Phase 1 pick in exchange for 2nd round 2018 USHL Phase 1 and Phase 2 picks, along with a player to be named later. (Here's a primer as to what Phase 1 and Phase 2 drafts mean.)

Phillips asked to be traded, according to Fargo head coach Cary Eades. Chris Murphy of The Forum reported that Phillips was not in the Force lineup last Thursday nor did he play in either of Fargo's two road wins at Omaha last weekend.

"They've been great to me," Phillips told the author last season about the Fargo coaching staff. "I got my feet wet a little bit (in 2015-16) and this year they've been great to me, putting me in situations and it's been good."

Something changed between then and now. Fargo's leading returning scorer this season, the 5'11", 188 lbs Phillips had three points (1G-2A) in three games. A year ago he finished with 20 points (7G-13A) in 56 regular season games.

Listed at 5'11", 188 lbs, Phillips is an offensive defenseman who likes to join in the rush.

Muskegon has previously been home to Gopher players like Michael Brodzinski, Eric Schierhorn and Rem Pitlick, who found new life with the Lumberjacks when traded.

Philips is expected to arrive at Minnesota in fall 2018 after graduating high school. One of the younger draft eligible players, he is a 2017 3rd round NHL draft pick (99th overall) of Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Podcast: That Gopher Hockey Puckast Episode 4

Nate and Drew return from Grand Forks to discuss Minnesota's series split with North Dakota with producer Tom Schreier.

They break down Friday's 2-1 win, Eric Schierhorn's 34 saves, Saturday's 4-0 loss, how the Minnesota-North Dakota rivalry is in 2017 and what the experience is covering a game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. They also answer questions on special teams, future college hockey expansion and what makes a successful month for the Gophers.

Those compared to Josh Duhamel can directly download here.

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes.

You can follow Drew on Twitter @covedrew. Nate can be found @gopherstate.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Game Story: Major penalty dooms Minnesota against North Dakota (Zone Coverage)

GRAND FORKS, ND --Three goal celebrations later, Minnesota’s penalty finally came to an end.

Christian Wolanin and North Dakota made the most of a five-minute major power play, putting the game out of reach before the second period was five minutes old, and handing the Gophers a 4-0 loss at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The result snaps a seven-game unbeaten streak for Minnesota (3-3-0, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) against the Fighting Hawks.

“You come out, and this is a very difficult place to play, and we had an opportunity tonight to win two. It’s hard enough to win one in a weekend, but you are going to come out and have a parade to the penalty box through two periods,” Gopher head coach Don Lucia said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance. That’s what disappointing, the parade to the penalty box.”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-North Dakota Line Combinations, Game Time, TV Schedule & More

Ralph Engelstad Arena (Photo: Nathan Wells)

#8 Minnesota (3-2-0, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) at #4 North Dakota (3-1-1, 0-0-0-0 NCHC)

Date: October 21, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, ND
TV: Midco SN where available (not available in Twin Cities)
Stream: NCHC.TV ($$$)
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: Zone Coverage and The Athletic Minnesota

Pregame reading: "On the long road to the NHL, Casey Mittelstadt stands out" by Eric Vegoe and "Chilling tales from old rink lore add color to Minnesota-North Dakota" by Jess Myers, both over at The Athletic (subscription required) 

Friday's game story: Schierhorn stops 34 in 2-1 Gophers win

The decision Friday to play Tyler Sheehy came from Tyler Sheehy.

Minnesota's captain returned to the Gopher lineup after missing both games against Penn State. The Gophers had an extra skater in Sam Rossini skate warmups, but Sheehy felt he could play and did.

"(Sheehy) skated Wednesday and felt good. Then he skated Thursday and still felt really good after practice," said head coach Don Lucia after Friday's 2-1 win. "At that point we felt - he made the call - but he said he felt really good."

Sheehy played on a line with Rem Pitlick and Casey Mittelstadt, helping start Minnesota's opening goal. He also took 10 faceoffs Friday night in an attempt to give the Gophers a righthanded draw. (All four of Minnesota centers shoot left.) Lucia thought he did a good job.

In other injury news, Scott Reedy missed his second consecutive game Friday. He did make the trip to Grand Forks after practicing Wednesday, however, Reedy will not play Saturday either.

Facebook Live: 10/20/17 from Ralph Engelstad Arena

I quickly jumped on Facebook Friday night following Minnesota's 2-1 win over North Dakota to discuss the victory and three reasons behind it. Unfortunately due to the late nature of the game (it was nearly midnight), I didn't answer any questions.

You can like/follow my work on Facebook here at the link. I'm also on Twitter @gopherstate.

Game Story: Schierhorn saves 34 in 2-1 Gophers win over North Dakota (Zone Coverage)

GRAND FORKS, ND– It was a win nearly six years in the making. For junior goaltender Eric Schierhorn, it was more specific. Friday’s performance came from the culmination of a whole summer’s work.

Playing at Ralph Engelstad Arena for the first time since January 2012, visiting Minnesota skated off the ice with a 2-1 victory over North Dakota in the 294th game played between the two teams throughout their long history.

Schierhorn, who shut out the Fighting Hawks the last time the two teams in Minneapolis, finished with 34 saves on 35 shots. His teammates helped, blocking 29 UND shots, taking bumps and bruises, and keeping an explosive offense off the scoresheet until the third period.

Minnesota’s penalty kill finished the night 5 for 6 a week after giving up four goals in two games against Penn State.

“It’s unbelievable. It energizes me, energizes the team, brings us closer,” said Schierhorn. “The sellout you saw from all of our guys tonight was unbelievable and that’s the reason we won.”

Click here to read the rest!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

That Gopher Hockey Puckast: Episodes 2 & 3

Because there was so much to discuss this week we did something different: We split everything into two podcasts.

Twice as much content. Twice as much college hockey in your ears!

As a reminder, if you subscribed to our old podcast, that feed will no longer work. You need to subscribe to the 'Cast In Gold feed wherever you listen to podcasts. Here it is on iTunes.

And leave us a review and five stars while you're at it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BLOG: Tyler Sheehy, Scott Reedy both "doubtful" for North Dakota

Minnesota likely will be without junior captain Tyler Sheehy and freshman forward Scott Reedy this weekend against North Dakota.

Both players were question marks at the beginning of the week. While they each skated in practice Wednesday, head coach Don Lucia was cautious about their chances to make the road trip.

"I doubt that they'll be playing this weekend. We're going to take a long-term approach," he said Wednesday. "Unless we feel really comfortable, we're preparing like they won't play."

Sheehy missed both games against Penn State and was listed as "week to week." Reedy left the end of Friday's game before not playing in Sunday's 6-3 win.

The injuries, mixed with Leon Bristedt being suspended - he'll be back for the series against the Fighting Hawks - allowed Minnesota to juggle lines. Lucia singled out his normal fourth line of Jack Ramsey, Ryan Norman and Darian Romanko as guys he believed stepped up and can play in elevated roles.

"The other guys did a good job. Our lineup on Sunday without three important players, and the other guys stepped up like you hope. That's what the team game is all about, that you're going to have a mix," he said. "You can't use it as an excuse. I don't know who they are yet, but we'll have 18 guys who are ready to go.

"In the long run it'll make us a better team."

Nick Williams commits to Minnesota

The Gophers picked up its second verbal commitment in a week Tuesday (October 17, 2017) when Edina, MN native Nick Williams announced his intentions to play at Minnesota via Twitter.

Williams is a 2002-born defenseman who most recently played for the Edina 14U AA Bantams. He continues an Edina D pipeline to the Gophers. Other players to come from the program or slated to down the line include Ryan Zuhlsdorf, Tyler Nanne, Clayton Phillips, Jake Boltmann and Ben Brinkman.

He joins Rosemount's Jake Ratzlaff as 2002-born verbal commitments the Gophers have received.

Recent Gopher hockey verbal commitments:
-Rhett Pitlick - Chaska (men's)
-Jake Braccini - Buffalo (men's)
-Chaz and Cruz Lucius (men's)
-Aaron Huglen - Roseau (men's)
-Audrey Wethington - Blake (women's)
-Tella Jungels - Edina (women's)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gopher hockey has another rollercoaster weekend against Penn State (The Athletic)

MINNEAPOLIS — Don Lucia walked into his postgame press conference Friday night and opened by saying his Minnesota team is not yet a finished product. The same holds true after Sunday’s game against Penn State, although the Gophers could take solace in their best 60-minute performance of the young season coming two days after their worst.

Two weekends into 2017-18 has seen Minnesota twice struggle Friday night before bouncing back in the weekend’s second game to earn a victory.

This has created plenty of teaching moments for Lucia in the early going. Repeatedly in practices Monday through Thursday, players have been told to focus on staying disciplined and starting off the first 10 minutes strongly.

Neither happened Friday night.

Click the link for the full story (Subscription Required)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pregame Blog: Gophers without 3 top-9 forwards, Peyton Jones' Sportcenter save + More

#11 Penn State (2-1-0, 1-0-0-0 Big Ten) at #7 Minnesota (1-2-0, 0-1-0-0 Big Ten)

Date: October 15, 2017
Time: 3:00 pm CT
Place: 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports North (Doug McLeod, Ben Clymer and Krissy Wendell-Pohl)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for today: The Athletic

Among the many things Minnesota failed to do in Friday's 3-1 loss was test Penn State sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones.

"Not at all," junior forward Darian Romanko said. "We got zero shots in the first ten minutes and 16 on the game, I think (Note: It was 21). That's not good enough for Gopher hockey."

The slow start was Minnesota's second consecutive Friday night opening the game being outshot over the first ten minutes. The Gophers didn't have a shot stopped by Jones until the 12 minute mark. He was barely tested as the Nittany Lions forced Eric Schierhorn (making his record-breaking 79th straight start Sunday) to stop 2 breakaways during that stretch.

Leon Bristedt suspended for Sunday's game

University of Minnesota senior forward Leon Bristedt will miss Sunday's game against Penn State after being suspended by the Big Ten for one game.

Bristedt, who is without a point in three games this season, was assessed a game misconduct for checking Nittany Lions forward James Gobetz from behind into the wall during Minnesota's 3-1 loss Friday. The conference determined it was aggregious enough to earn supplementary discipline.

The play came with his team on the penalty kill 8:47 into the second period.

Gopher head coach Don Lucia was okay with the checking from behind call when asked after Friday's game.

"That's a safety issue. You don't go into the boards and push a guy in his numbers, putting him in a really vulnerable position. I have no problem with the call," he said. "(Leon) knows better. He's a senior. You wrap up a guy in that situation, but you don't check him from behind."

This is Bristedt's second career suspension. He missed one game in March 2016 for spearing Michigan State captain Michael Ferrantino in a play that did not earn a penalty.

In case you missed it, I have a new professional Facebook page for my college hockey writing. Please like and follow at

You can also follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rhett Pitlick commits to Minnesota

Minnesota picked up a verbal commitment this week from Chaska, MN native Rhett Pitlick.

The HS sophomore forward did not, as is the custom, announce his decision on Twitter and thank everyone who helped him along the way. The Gopher Hockey Blog did confirm with sources that Pitlick committed, however. (Assistant coach Scott Bell also did his usual "hooked them" tweet and Chaska Boys Hockey tweeted out congratulations for the 2001-born Pitlick.)

A Gopher hockey legacy, Pitlick's parents were both athletes at the University of Minnesota. His father Lance played for Minnesota from 1986-1990 while Rhett's mother Lisa was a gymnast. His cousin Tyler played at Minnesota State before going on to an NHL career.

Older brother Rem, who was 5'3" when he committed before growing, is currently a sophomore forward with the Gophers.

Playing varsity at Chaska as a freshman (along with fellow Minnesota commit Mike Koster), Pitlick the younger scored 12 goals and 10 assists in 23 games.

Rhett was drafted 102nd overall by the Bloomington Thunder (now Central Illinois Flying Aces) in May's USHL Phase 1 Draft. Central Illinois also drafted Gopher commits Jake Braccini and Jake Boltmann.

The earliest he would likely be on campus is 2020.

Recent Gopher hockey verbal commitments:
-Jake Braccini - Buffalo (men's)
-Chaz and Cruz Lucius (men's)
-Aaron Huglen - Roseau (men's)
-Audrey Wethington - Blake (women's)
-Tella Jungels - Edina (women's)

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-PSU line combinations, Big Ten Hockey in October, Schierhorn ties record

Eric Schierhorn (pictured after Saturday's 2-0 win) makes his 78th consecutive start for Minnesota (Photo Credit: Nathan Wells)

#11 Penn State (1-1-0) at #7 Minnesota (1-1-0)

Date: October 13, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Place: Mariucci
TV: Fox Sports North (Doug McLeod and Ben Clymer)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: The Athletic Minnesota

Pregame Reading: Tyler Nanne living his dream with Gophers after long recovery (The Athletic - subscription required)
Follow along for live tweeting @gopherstate

As the old promo that got greeted by Minnesota fans with boos goes, Big Ten here.

In October. Yes, this weekend features a Big Ten conference series.

Long Feature: Tyler Nanne living his dream playing for Gophers (The Athletic)

"After two and a half years with zero competitive games, two schools, several trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, a year where he was not allowed to skate, and a year where he was only allowed to practice, Tyler Nanne was about to finally experience collegiate hockey for himself."

My first big feature for The Athletic is an in-depth dive into the remarkable road Tyler Nanne took to get to Minnesota and opening night. Once one of the top high school players in the state, Nanne was struck with Myocarditis and spent a year recovering. Now healthy, his family helped him greatly along the way.

I'm happy to be having the opportunity this season to write long college hockey features.

Read here (The Athletic subscription required):

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

That Gopher Hockey Puckcast: Episode 1 (We did not come up with an episode title)

We back.

The most popular question I've gotten over the last month has been "when are Drew and you doing another podcast?" Well, I'm happy to say the podcast will return this season under a new home and new name.

The first new episode of "That Gopher Hockey Puckcast" (as opposed to the other one) can be listened to below. We're excited to join the Zone Coverage Podcast Network and work with some of my favorite folks in the Twin Cities.

For episode 1, Drew and I, along with producer Tom Schreier, catch up an entire offseason, last weekend's Ice Breaker tournament (I was there, Drew was covering from afar) and games against UMD and Union, the UMD losing streak, incoming freshmen, our thoughts on the upcoming season, Big Ten, Penn State and finally we bring out the old mailbag and answer your burning questions. You can listen below.

For those who subscribed to the old podcast the old feed will not update. You have to re-subscribe here or search iTunes for "Cast in Gold." That might change in the future, but for now that's the name and feed it is under.

Those who want to direct download can do so here.

Follow Drew on Twitter @covedrew and read his work at the Minnesota Daily. You can follow me on Twitter @gopherstate, on Facebook and of course read my work both here and at The Athletic.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Radio: WCCO Sports Sunday with Steve Thomson (October 8, 2017)

Once again I'm going to be a regular guest on WCCO. This weekend I made my season debut with Steve Thomson, discussing the Gopher men's and women's teams.

Topics included: How the Minnesota men's weekend went, Amsoil Arena, some positives and negatives in each game, Casey Mittelstadt being brought along slowly and the challenges of being a highly regarded freshman, what's hampering the Gopher women after a 1-2-1 start, Olympic losses, and why I'm contributing this season to The Athletic.



My segment begins a little after the 5 minute mark in the 3 pm hour of Sunday October 8, 2017.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota vs Union Line Combinations, UMD Loss & More

Eight is not great when it comes to Minnesota's losing streak against its in-state neighbor 150 miles north.

Minnesota Duluth's Parker Mackay scored 1:45 into overtime to hand the visiting Gophers a season-opening 4-3 loss in the Ice Breaker tournament. It's the eighth straight defeat to UMD dating back to October 2014.

"It sucks to say, but right now the numbers don't lie. They got our number these last few years. We were really hoping to change that tonight," Tyler Sheehy said after Friday's loss. "We tried to play with a chip on our shoulders. That was something that has been going on these past few years. We weren't able to come out on top tonight." 

Minnesota now faces Union today in the tournament consolation game.

As a reminder, today's game is NOT on television in the Twin Cities. Here's why. I'm in Duluth and you can follow me on Twitter @gopherstate.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota vs Minnesota Duluth Ice Breaker Line Combinations

Date: October 6, 2017
Time: 7:30 pm CT
Place: AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, MN
TV: No TV in Twin Cities, My9 (Duluth NBC affiliate) in Duluth
Stream: NCHC.TV ($$$)
Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM (Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco)
Nate is covering for tonight: The Athletic Minnesota

Two extra games. That's where it begins.

Notebook: Ice Breaker, Potential Lines, TV Situation, Mittelstadt & More

Here are some Minnesota news and notes in the lead-up to the men's regular season opener tonight at Duluth and the women hosting Ohio State this weekend.

I'll be up in Duluth this weekend covering the Ice Breaker for a few different outlets. Of course, you can find links to anything Gopher-related I write on this website, as well as follow me on Twitter @gopherstate. I'm also planning on doing a Facebook Live video to discuss the games, which will be posted here as well afterwards.

My plan is to put a pregame blog a couple hours before the game. I do still hope to do a TV analysis blog before we get too far into the season for those who were wondering. Unfortunately, neither of this weekend's games are on television in the Twin Cities. The Gophers do not control TV rights to visiting non-conference games and the Bulldogs and My9 Duluth did not allow Fox Sports North to broadcast. Those in the Twin Cities can stream the game live for a fee at NCHC.TV.

It's a college hockey-wide problem where every season you can almost count the number of nationally televised non-conference games on one hand. Sadly, the problem seems to be getting worse and worse as realignment creates more non-conference games and more teams get TV deals. The same situation will occur in two weeks when the Gophers travel to Grand Forks to face North Dakota.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nate appears on Gopher Puck Live Podcast Episode #114

To kick off 2017-18 I joined my friends at Gopher Puck Live on their season-opening podcast. We previewed the freshmen, returning players, expectations for the season, what we're excited to see, this weekend's Ice Breaker tournament in Duluth and Friday's opponent UMD.

You can listen directly at their site. The podcast is number 114. You can also stream or downoad on iTunes or Google Play.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BLOG: 10 thoughts from Minnesota's weekend split against Merrimack

Sunday's faceoff between Minnesota and Merrimack (Photo: Nathan Wells)

I spent some time at Ridder Arena last weekend, covering both of Minnesota's season-opening games against Merrimack. Being there first-hand and talking with players and coaches after the games, I thought it would be appropriate to give my thoughts as a whole.

The Gophers lost Friday 4-3 before winning 4-1. If you missed Friday's game recap, click here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nate Knoepke, 4 Gopher commits make NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list

NHL Central Scouting released its first look at players eligible for next June's NHL Draft. Five players with University of Minnesota ties made the cut.

All five are among 18 Minnesota natives to be named to the full list, which can be seen here.

Gopher freshman defenseman Nate Knoepke, in his second year of draft eligibility, was given a "C" grade by Central Scouting. Two Minnesota forward commits - Blake McLaughlin and Jaxon Nelson - were given "B" grades. Two others - Jack Jensen and Colin Schmidt - received "C" grades.

An "A" player is seen by NHL Central as a potential first round pick. "B" players would go in the second or third round while "C" players go later.

NHL Central Scouting exists as a hypothetical 32nd team and how that team would have its board if the 2018 NHL Draft was held today. Other teams likely have different players ranked higher or lower.

Additionally, things can and will change by the time June comes around, something Knoepke would know all too well. The Farmington, MN native went undrafted in his first year of eligibility despite being 79th among North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings this past April. Sammy Walker, meanwhile, fell off the rankings yet was drafted by an NHL team. Other players, such as Rem Pitlick (not named to the watch list and eventually drafted in the third round) end up working their way on to future lists.

No Minnesotans were named "A" players. Of the players with "A" rankings, five have college ties, including current Michigan freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes and Boston University freshman forward Brady Tkachuk.

In case you missed it, I have a new professional Facebook page for my college hockey writing. Please like and follow at

You can also follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate

Monday, October 2, 2017

Minnesota's second game against Penn State moved to Sunday October 15

With Gopher football playing Michigan State next Saturday night across the street at TCF Bank Stadium, the Minnesota men's hockey series finale against Penn State moves to Sunday October 15.

The home opener remains unchanged on Friday October 13th.

Game time is set for 3 p.m. CT, right around the end of Vikings-Packers, for those interested. Fox Sports North will continue to broadcast both Minnesota-Penn State games that weekend, as will KTLK 1130 AM

(Click here for Minnesota's full season TV schedule - I plan on blogging about what it means at some point this week although don't hold me to it.)

If there's one silver lining, Twin Cities hockey fans do not have to choose between NHL and college hockey. The Gopher game no longer overlaps with the Minnesota Wild home opener at Xcel Energy Center.

October 13-14 remains the only weekend during the regular season where Minnesota men's hockey and football are both at home.

In case you missed it, I have a new professional Facebook page for my college hockey writing. Please like and follow at

You can also follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate

WATCH: Facebook Live after Minnesota's 6-2 exhibition victory (with Drew Cove)

I'm trying something new this year: Facebook Live after games.

Below is the first edition following Sunday's 6-2 exhibition win over Alberta. Minnesota Daily beat writer Drew Cove and myself discuss how much stock to put in exhibition games, what we liked/didn't like, what Gopher head coach Don Lucia and players said, and of course our first impressions of Casey Mittelstadt, who had a four point game.

Feel free to leave questions and comments on the page you want answered during games for future sessions. I'd like to make this an interactive experience.

Like and follow my Facebook - you can click here to do so.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

BLOG: Taylor Williamson, Luke Notermann out for the foreseeable future

Both Minnesota hockey teams will be without a forward for the foreseeable future.

Junior Taylor Williamson and sophomore forward Luke Notermann are missing time on the ice this season.

In Williamson's case, she at least suited up Friday during Minnesota's season opening 4-3 loss to Merrimack. The Edina, MN native didn't leave the bench for the locker room yet wasn't playing during the second and third periods. She was scrtached in Sunday's 4-1 win.

"She's out indefinitely with an injury," head coach Brad Frost said Sunday of Williamson, the 2015 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award winner.

Williamson spent the latter part of 2016-17 on the team's second line, flourishing with a stretch where she had 4 goals in 5 games. This season Frost started her on the third line with Kippin Keller and freshman Taylor Wente.

Losing Williamson for an extended period of time puts a strain on the Gopher blue line. Thanks in part to three potential forwards gone for Olympic duty, Minnesota only has 18 skaters (12 forwards and 6 defenders). Junior Sophie Skarzynski went from defender to forward Sunday.

"Hopefully we can keep five D back there," said Frost."We don't have many more options unless we can pull somebody from the stands."

On the men's side, every eligible forward skated in Minnesota's 6-2 exhibition victory over Alberta. That left out transfer Connor Hurley and Notermann, who head coach Don Lucia said was unable to play.

He likely will be unable to play for a while.

"We're hoping (Luke)'ll be back playing, at least skating, but as of now it appears that he'll be missing the year," said Lucia.

Notermann had one assist in 10 games last season for the Gophers, filling in spot duty throughout the second half of 2016-17. Being without Notermann leaves five forwards - Darian Romanko, Jack Ramsey, Ryan Norman, Joey Marooney and freshman Cullen Munson - in the mix for three spots on Minnesota's fourth line. All five were rotating at times, with Romanko being a constant presence, during Sunday's exhibition.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Game Story: #3 Minnesota upset by Merrimack 4-3 to open year

MINNEAPOLIS- Two goals 16 seconds apart, coming in the final minute of a period, normally has been enough for Minnesota to pull away from its competition at home.

Normally. As Merrimack reminded the Gophers Friday night, it's a new year. The past doesn't mean anything.

Hosting Merrimack to open the 2017-18 season, Minnesota allowed the Warriors to score three times in a six minute stretch of play to erase a 3-1 lead. Lea-Kristine Demers made a career-high 54 saves as Merrimack (2-0-0) defeated the #3 Gophers 4-3 at Ridder Arena.

"They defended really well, blocked a lot of shots and kept things to the outside. Their goalie played really well, but didn't really give up any second chances," Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. "I don't think we had one odd-man rush, a two-on-one, three-on-two breakaway. On the flip side, they had a couple two-on-ones and a couple breakaways. We didn't defend as well as they did and the puck ends up in the net."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Early Departure Rankings

Each season seniors depart college while freshmen arrive to take their place. Occasionally players leave college with eligiblity remaining for professional hockey, which can have a major effect on the upcoming season.

So with that in mind, and preseason rankings being a thing, I figured to combine the two by going in a different direction.

I'm ranking the 12 teams in Minnesota's sphere - 7 Big Ten schools (yes there are 7 teams now), the 4 Minnesota schools besides the Gophers, and North Dakota - on both the number of early departures and what effect it has on the team. The earlier one left, the more it counts.

Plus it's a good way to remember with the season starting up next week who left early.

Monday, September 25, 2017

John Hamre, Andy Kent round out Minnesota staff

Minnesota completed its staff just in time for the season to begin.

The team announced Monday (September 25, 2017) the additions of John Hamre and Andy Kent to the men's hockey coaching staff.

Hamre, a three-time graduate of the University of Minnesota, becomes the third Director of Operations in as many seasons. He takes over the role vacated by Ben Gordon, who left to take a job as Chicago Steel (USHL) Associate Coach. Hamre served as Wisconsin's Director of Operations during Mike Eaves' final season (2015-16). His 25+ year coaching career began as Minnesota graduate assistant coach back in 1991.

Kent is no stranger to Minnesota, being the volunteer goaltending coach for the Gopher women's team over the past six seasons. He will continue to coach both teams. In his other role, Kent helped develop Noora Raty, Amanda Leveille and Sidney Peters en route to four national championships. Usually he's the first one out there on the ice, working with the team's goalies. Prior to coaching, Kent was a goaltender at Augsburg from 2005-2009.

Kent replaces Justin Johnson, who has been the Minnesota men's team volunteer goalie coach the past eight seasons.

The Gophers begin play Sunday (October 1) with a home exhibition game against Alberta.

Full list of Minnesota coaching changes

-Grant Potulny, Assistant Coach (left for Northern Michigan head coach job)
-Corey Millen, Undergraduate Assistant (now Air Force Director of Operations)
-Ben Gordon, Director of Operations (now Chicago Steel Associate Coach)
-Justin Johnson, Volunteer Goaltending Coach

-Scott Bell, Assistant Coach
-John Hamre, Director of Operations
-Andy Kent, Volunteer Goaltending Coach

Remain from 2016-17:
-Don Lucia, Head Coach
-Mike Guentzel, Associate Head Coach

Pohl Talk: Gophers ranked 3rd to open USCHO poll

Like the women's team last week, the Minnesota men open the USCHO preseason poll ranked 3rd.

The Gophers are joined by four Big Ten teams in the top 20. New member Notre Dame is eighth, Penn State tenth, Wisconsin 12th, and Ohio State is 19th. All except the Badgers made the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Of the other Minnesota schools, three are in the top 20 while the fourth, Bemidji State, receives votes. UMD is sixth, St. Cloud State is ninth and Minnesota State, picked to win the WCHA, is 18th.

Obviously the 50 voters seem to be high on Minnesota, moving the Gophers up from 7th in the final poll last season. There are things to be excited about with the team.

At the same time, it seems like Minnesota moves up in the preseason every year regardless.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

BLOG: All-American Prospects Game Thursday for four Minnesota commits

While I mentioned this last month when the players were announced, it makes sense with the game date quickly approaching tomorrow (September 21, 2017) to bring this up again.

The sixth annual All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo features
four Minnesota verbal commits among the 42 American 2018 NHL Draft-eligible players participating. Forwards Jack Jensen (Eden Prairie, MN), Blake McLaughlin (Grand Rapids MN), Jaxon Nelson (Magnolia, MN/Sioux Falls - USHL) and Colin Schmidt (Maple Griove, MN/Wayzata HS) will get a chance to showcase their skills in front of NHL scouts and try to follow in 2016 AAPG MVP Casey Mittelstadt's footsteps.

The two teams are coached by Hall of Famers Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch. Jensen is with Chelios while the other three are on Team Leetch.

Unfortuantely, the game is not televised by NHL Network like it has in past years and can only be seen on

Puck drop is at 6 pm CT.

Monday, September 18, 2017

BLOG: Six snubs from today's Big Ten Preseason Watch List

Several thoughts came to mind when seeing today's Preseason Watch List.

First, the future of the Big Ten is bright. There's a lot of good, young new talent in the conference and it shows. 8 of the 17 players named are either freshmen or sophomores while 4 more did not play in the Big Ten last season. Of Minnesota's 4, 3 are underclassmen. So are all 3 of Michigan's representatives.

Second, I want to know which coach(es) left Ohio State's Mason Jobst off their ballot. The junior forward was the leading scorer in Big Ten conference games and one of the returning players along with Sheehy and Frederic, the two unanimous choices. You can even make an argument Jobst deserved to win the B1G Player of the Year Award.

And third? While the media doesn't make its own, I figure there are enough returning players left off the coaches' watch list that could deserve a look to where I can fill an entire team of snubs.

So let's give it a shot. Introducting your 2017-18 Preseason All-Big Ten Watch List Snub Team.

Tyler Sheehy 1 of 2 unanimous picks on Big Ten Preseason Watch List

Gopher junior captain Tyler Sheehy is one of two players chosen by all seven Big Ten coaches on the annual preseason watch list.

The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year was joined by three teammates on the watch list. Minnesota, meanwhile, was picked to five-peat in the conference by winning its seventh consecutive regular season title dating back to 2011-2012.

Joined by Wisconsin sophomore forward Trent Frederic as a unanimous selection, Sheehy's 53 points as a sophomore (20G-33A) were the most by any Minnesota player since Ryan Potulny in 2005-2006.

In addition to Sheehy, freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt, sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren and sophomore forward Rem Pitlick were among the 17 players named to the preseason watch list. Mittelstadt, one of three freshmen named, comes in as the 8th overall draft pick in June's NHL Draft. Lindgren was one of the top young defenders in the conference last year before his season was cut short due to injury and Pitlick finished strong, scoring 11 goals over the final two months of the season while playing on a line with Sheehy

Don Lucia's team picked to finish first in the conference in preseason marks the second consecutive year the Gophers were chosen to win and third time in the five seasons Big Ten has sponsored men's hockey.

Newomer Notre Dame was chosen second coming off of a season where the Fighting Irish made the Frozen Four. Wisconsin is third followed by the team who dashed the Badgers' NCAA hopes, Penn State. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State round out the list.

Preseason Watch List

Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan
Will Lockwood, F, Michigan
Josh Norris, F, Michigan
Ryan Lindgren, D, Minnesota
Casey Mittelstadt, F, Minnesota
Rem Pitlick, F, Minnesota
Tyler Sheehy, F, Minnesota***
Jake Evans, F, Notre Dame
Jordan Gross, D, Notre Dame
Andrew Oglevie, F, Notre Dame
Mason Jobst, F, Ohio State
Matthew Weis, F, Ohio State
Peyton Jones, G, Penn State
Denis Smirnov, F, Penn State
Trent Frederic, F, Wisconsin***
Kyle Hayton, G, Wisconsin
Cameron Hughes, F, Wisconsin
***Unanimous Selection

Coaches Poll

1. Minnesota
2. Notre Dame
3. Wisconsin
4. Penn State
5. Ohio State
6. Michigan
7. Michigan State