Monday, February 27, 2017

Game Story: Gopher women's hockey team tops Bemidji State to advance to WCHA Final Faceoff (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/27/2017 Game Story

Bemidji State 2
Minnesota 3

MINNEAPOLIS- Kelly Pannek and the rest of the Gophers women’s hockey team were aware of the stakes Sunday against Bemidji State.

Facing elimination and the pressure of a must-win Game 3, the Gophers needed a victory in the first round of the WCHA playoffs to continue controlling their own destiny. Without a win, Minnesota could have lost an opportunity to host a NCAA tournament quarterfinal. It would also leave getting a chance to defend its national championship in doubt.

Minnesota (25-6-5) brushed off a pair of scares, getting top performances from its top players. The Gophers defeated Bemidji State 3-2 at Ridder Arena to win the best-of-three series two games to one and live to play another weekend.

“Before this week even started, we knew what we had to do,” said Pannek, who finished with two goals Sunday set up by linemate Sarah Potomak. “This series shows our season, the ups and downs that we have had and fighting back from adversity in a way. Bemidji’s a great team, and they are so tough to play against. They play such a disciplined style of hockey.”

The Gophers emphasized getting out to a quick start Sunday. Following Saturday’s loss in a game it never led, Minnesota began with an 8-1 advantage in shots, testing the BSU defense with several chances by Pannek.

She was rewarded with the opening goal 10:35 into the game. Afterward, the Gophers did not trail.

Click here to read the rest 

Radio: WCCO Radio on Sports Sunday with Steve Thomson (February 26, 2017)

Once again I was on WCCO Radio with Steve Thomson for what is becoming a weekly segment during the hockey season on The Good Neighbor.

Calling in prior to covering Minnesota's Game 3 with Bemidji State,
topics include the Gopher women losing Saturday and how it affects the team's NCAA bid, goaltending, the differences between this year's team and the past two national championships, the Minnesota men splitting with Wisconsin, why it puts the Gophers in the driver's seat for the Big Ten championship, Vinni Lettieri and Minnesota's forward depth, and the play of Eric Schierhorn of late.

I also plug this site at the end. If anyone found their way here from that, congrats!



My segment begins at the 18:30 mark of the 3 pm hour on Sunday February 26th.

Game Story: Minnesota falls to Bemidji State 2-1, forcing Game 3 of WCHA Series (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/25/2017 Game Story

Bemidji State 2
Minnesota 1

MINNEAPOLIS- With its season — and for six seniors, their college careers — on the line, Bemidji State defeated the Gophers 2-1 on Saturday to force a deciding Game 3 in the first-round WCHA series at Ridder Arena.

Ciscely Nelson’s goal with 8:51 left in regulation broke a 1-1 tie, and Bemidji State held on to snap fourth-ranked Minnesota’s 11-game unbeaten streak.

“They came out flying today,” said Sarah Potomak, who scored for the Gophers (24-6-5). “They just played unbelievable and had a great game.

“It’s unfortunate. We just need to be better and get to the dirty areas in front of the net. We’ll be looking to do that tomorrow.”

Brittni Mowat stopped 33 shots on goal for Bemidji State (12-19-3).

“We just got to get those second chances. She makes unbelievable first saves,” Potomak said.

Click here to read the rest

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pregame Blog: On Friday's loss, Saturday game times & more Minnesota-Wisconsin notes

Saturday game info:

#19 Wisconsin at #4 Minnesota

Date: February 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Place: Mariucci Arena
TV: Fox Sports North Plus (Fox Sports Wisconsin for our friends in Madison)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go (Free for cable subscribers)
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Nate is covering for tonight: St. Paul Pioneer Press

Podcast/Radio: Nate appears on "The Pipeline Show"

Yesterday I was on The Pipeline Show out of Edmonton to talk Minnesota and Big Ten hockey. Thanks to Guy Flaming for once again having me on the program.

Topics include the Big Ten race, Minnesota's consistency, why the team's depth is working, how many bids the conference can get and touching on all six teams.

You can listen below. My segment starts at the 39:32 mark although the entire podcast is a must-listen for prospect and die hard hockey fans. While the show is based in Edmonton, Flaming and co. cover the entire North American junior hockey gamut.

Game Story: No rally this time as "U" falls to Wisconsin (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/24/2017 Game Story

Wisconsin 3
Minnesota 2

MINNEAPOLIS- Minnesota began Friday’s game believing the bounces would be going the way of the home team with an opening-shift lead that came from a shot from behind the Wisconsin goal line. The Gophers ended the night getting many more over the remaining 59 minutes that went any other way but inside the net.

Playing from behind and trying to get yet another come-from-behind win, Minnesota’s latest attempt was one comeback too many.

Despite a third-period rush and 38 total shots on net, the Gophers, who came from two goals or more down in three of the past four games, came up short in a 3-2 loss at Mariucci Arena.

“We lost to a good team tonight. It was a hard-fought game,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “Now our goal is to try and win tomorrow.”

Freshman goaltender Jack Berry made 36 saves for Wisconsin, which bookended a pair of Vinni Lettieri goals Friday with three in the second period on six shots.

Click here to read the rest!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pregame Blog: Minnesota-Wisconsin preview, line combinations, TV & radio + more

Friday's Game Info

#19 Wisconsin at #4 Minnesota

Date: February 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Place: Mariucci Arena
TV: Fox Sports North Plus (Fox Sports Wisconsin for our friends in Madison)
Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go (Free for cable subscribers)
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Nate is covering for tonight: St. Paul Pioneer Press

BLOG: Mike Szmatula's status, roller coaster comebacks returning, Wisconsin turnaround & stakes

Some Friday morning leftovers prior to this weekend's Border Battle:

Redshirt junior forward Mike Szmatula remains day-to-day for this weekend's series against the Badgers with a lower body injury.

"He's a question mark right now. We don't know if he'll play or not play," said head coach Don Lucia. "We'll see where he is (Thursday and Friday).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BLOG: Kelly Pannek and Sarah Potomak among 10 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award finalists

Minnesota forwards Kelly Pannek and Sarah Potomak are two of ten finalists for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award.

The award for the top player in Division 1 women's ice hockey will be handed out March 18th during the Frozen Four in St. Louis, Missouri.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Puck Dynasty Podcast: The Road Runner Line Leads The Way Against Penn State

Puck Dynasty is a weekly podcast covering the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team and college hockey. Nathan Wells (SB Nation College Hockey/various outlets), Declan Goff (1500 ESPN/GoMN Sports) and Drew Cove (Minnesota Daily) discuss the latest news, analysis and give their opinions about the Gophers and sport as a whole.

This week, with Nate back in studio from covering the series in State College (for the second straight week he made the long trek from one end of Chicago Midway to the other), the crew lead off by breaking down the ending to Saturday’s Minnesota-Penn State game from all sides. Other topics include the line of Rem Pitlick-Justin Kloos-Tyler Sheehy getting a new nickname, Eric Schierhorn making 80+ saves on the weekend, whether the Gopher offense can carry the team on its own come NCAA Tournament time, unsung penalty kill heroes and a pair of game misconducts on the weekend coupled with a suspension.

The upcoming Border Battle series with Wisconsin is previewed along with a look at which teams on the Pairwise bubble we are interested in following as the season winds down.

Towards the end of the podcast Twitter questions get answered.

Those looking for Atlantic Hockey unicorns can directly download at 1500 ESPNPodcast One or subscribe on iTunes.

Follow Nate (@gopherstate), Declan (@dexstweets) and Drew (@drewcove48) on Twitter. If you like what you hear, be sure to give it a five star review on whatever platform you consume podcasts.

Show links and notes:
-Drew’s feature on Leon Bristedt can be read here.
-College Hockey Ranked’s website for Pairwise discussion.
-The Denis Smirnov penalty shot from inside the building.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Big Ten suspends Joey Marooney one game for Penn State hit

Minnesota freshman Joey Marooney (Photo by Daniel Mick)

Minnesota freshman forward Joey Marooney will be suspended for Friday's home game against Wisconsin.

The supplemental punishment comes Monday from the Big Ten.

Marooney, a late decision to play Saturday in place of Mike Szmatula, was given a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct 9:41 into the game. The freshman ended up hitting 6'7" Nikita Pavlychev near the back of the head and into the boards.

Game Story: Minnesota edges Penn State in wild finish to sweep series (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/18/2017 Game Story

Minnesota 4
Penn State 3

(Author note: This was one of the craziest regular season games I've covered.)

STATE COLLEGE, PA. — Exactly 12 minutes removed from the sellout crowd at Pegula Arena screaming at the sight of a successful penalty shot, 6,140 fans and 23 players clad in white and blue sweaters left Happy Valley on Saturday night with nothing resembling grins on their faces.

They were stunned, with the air let out of the building. They were wallowing in Minnesota pulling a rabbit out of its hat and pulling the cruel trick of taking away what appeared to be a certain win.

For the fourth time 15 days, the Gophers found a way to win to defeat Penn State in Big Ten Conference play.

Minnesota and Penn State combined for three goals in the final 2:11. The last, by Justin Kloos, tied the score at 3 with 3.5 seconds remaining in the third period to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, linemate Rem Pitlick scored his first career overtime winner with 1:33 remaining to give the Gophers a 4-3 victory and a sweep of the weekend series.

“It was a crazy game. A finish like that, I give our guys a lot of credit for keep believing,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said.

Click here to read the rest!

Radio: WCCO Radio on Sports Saturday with Steve Thomson (February 18, 2017)

Calling in Saturday from the middle of Penn State's campus, I discussed Gopher hockey with Steve Thomson on WCCO Radio.

Topics include the Minnesota men winning Friday over Penn State, the Gopher depth, how college hockey is accepted at the newest Big Ten school, the job Guy Gadowsky has done in five years at Penn State, Minnesota's position in the Big Ten race and NCAA Tournament at-large bid, plus a brief detour into the Minnesota women's team playing Wisconsin in a Border Battle series.



My segment begins at the start of the 4pm hour on Saturday February 18th.

Feature: Gopher women's hockey team glad Taylor Williamson finding the net (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

(This originally appeared in the February 18th St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The Gophers women’s hockey team waited much of the season for Taylor Williamson to break out and score.

In the lead-up to Minnesota’s final Western Collegiate Hockey Association series of the season this weekend against rival Wisconsin, secondary scoring for the Gophers is on the rise after the team got 65 percent of its goals during the first two months from its top line.

It eventually reached a point where coach Brad Frost stopped bringing up the subject.

“We really struggled with people scoring in the first half other than our first line. We’ve talked to our players about it,” Frost said. “We actually came back from Christmas break and said, ‘We’re not going to mention secondary scoring anymore.’ You guys know you have to score, but let’s focus on the process of scoring rather than the actual outcome of scoring.”

Some extra scoring would come in handy this weekend with the No. 4-ranked Gophers (23-5-3, 19-4-3-2 WCHA) playing host to No.-1-ranked Wisconsin (27-2-2, 22-2-2-2). The teams square off at Ridder Arena in 3 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.

Click here to read the rest!

Game Story: Kloos, Pitlick lead way in win over Penn State (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/17/2017 Game Story

Minnesota 6
Penn State 3

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Once denied, Justin Kloos and Minnesota could not be stopped a second time on the road against Penn State.

Initially believing he had given the Gophers a 4-2 lead Friday night by tipping a shot through the legs of Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones, Kloos’ first attempt at his 15th goal of the season was overturned. After a review, it was ruled Minnesota’s captain played the puck with a high stick.

Four minutes later, Kris Myllari tied the score at 3 for Penn State. No matter. Kloos put the Gophers ahead for good with six minutes remaining in regulation on the power play, one-timing the puck into the back of the net.

Minnesota scored twice more in the next 4:34 to win 6-3 over the Nittany Lions. The Gophers continue to lead the Big Ten.

“We never really felt like the game was in too much jeopardy. Obviously we got the power play pretty quickly after (Myllari’s goal) and then felt like we had the momentum from there,” said Kloos.

Click here to read the rest!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tyler Sheehy named Big Ten third star of the week

Big Ten co-scoring leader Tyler Sheehy was named the third star of the week for his five point performance against Ohio State.

Sheehy set up linemates Rem Pitlick and Justin Kloos (on the power play) for goals in Friday's 5-4 loss. The sophomore forward had two more assists in Saturday's 6-5 win over OSU and scored a power play goal to tie the game at 4.

Sheehy has scored 41 points (17G-24A) in 28 games to lead all Big Ten players. His 23 points in 12 conference games are tied with OSU sophomore Mason Jobst.

A one-time Ohio State commit, Sheehy has 19 points in 9 career games against the Buckeyes.

Penn State freshmen Denis Smirnov and Nate Sucese were named the Big Ten first and second stars of the week for their roles in the Nittany Lions sweeping Wisconsin on the road. Smirnov had a four point night (2G-2A) in Saturday's 5-2 win. Sucese also scored two goals Saturday and added a shorthanded goal in Friday's 6-3 victory.

Puck Dynasty Podcast: Will a split with Penn State be a successful weekend? (Episode 14)

Puck Dynasty is a weekly podcast covering the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team and college hockey. Nathan Wells (SB Nation College Hockey/various outlets), Declan Goff (1500 ESPN/GoMN Sports) and Drew Cove (Minnesota Daily) discuss the latest news, analysis and give their opinions about the Gophers and sport as a whole.

This week Nate joins from New York City via Skype for a road show. The crew discuss Minnesota's split against Ohio State, a school-record power play performance, Josh Healey's hit on Darian Romanko and the point of suspensions being a deterrent, and previewing the Gophers playing Penn State for the second time in three weeks.

Towards the end of the podcast Twitter questions get answered.

Those cursing at the utterance of "Dave Hakstol: Minnesota head coach" can directly download at 1500 ESPN, Podcast One or subscribe on iTunes.

Follow Nate (@gopherstate), Declan (@dexstweets) and Drew (@drewcove48) on Twitter. If you like what you hear, be sure to give it a five star review on whatever platform you consume podcasts.

Here's the Josh Healey hit mentioned.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pohl Talk: Minnesota's comeback win likely doomed Ohio State's at-large NCAA chances

The weekly USCHO polls came out Monday, which see Minnesota's men's and women's team sit fifth and fourth, respectively. (Full disclosure: I don't have a vote.) The Gopher men hold its fifth spot after a road split at Ohio State which saw the Buckeyes come back to win 5-4 Friday before Minnesota did the same Saturday in a 6-5 victory.

The Gopher women, meanwhile, move back up into fourth after a dominating weekend sweep against North Dakota. Minnesota won 4-2 and 6-2, with the latter game featuring five goals from the team's second line and Sarah Potomak's 100th career point. That's important given the Gophers, third in the Pairwise, will be tested hosting WCHA regular season champ and #1 Wisconsin in the final week of the regular season.

On the men's side? Another weekend brings Minnesota closer to an at-large berth at the expense of Ohio State's season.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Minnesota returns home rejuvenated for stretch run (SB Nation College Hockey)

(This article originally appeared at SB Nation College Hockey)

Minnesota has spent enough time on the road where the norm of late has been to practice at home all week before waking up Friday and take a road trip to an opposition rink.

Since November 27th, the Gophers have played two games at Ridder Arena, where the team is 11-0-1. That ends this weekend when Minnesota (21-5-3, 17-4-3-2 WCHA) begins a regular season-ending four game homestand when the Gophers host North Dakota. A week later Wisconsin comes to town then the Gophers play at home in the WCHA first round.

Friday, February 10, 2017

BLOG: 2017 Big Ten Midseason Awards & Storylines To Follow

In a college hockey season with several opportunities to mark milestones we’ve reached another. This week marks the midway point of Big Ten conference race, which itself splits the season into two separate and distinct halves. Each team has played ten games. Ten games remain.

To kick off the stretch run, and because I am not in Columbus this weekend to cover the Gophers (please note there will be no pregame blogs or game recaps), here are some superlatives and awards. Let's be honest. If there is one thing people love, it’s lists and awards for a ten game stretch.

BLOG: 5 Big (B1G?) Big Ten Series to Watch Down the Stretch

HM: Michigan vs. MSU at the Joe tonight - with the opening next season of Little Caesars Arena, just north of downtown, it's the final regular season meeting between the two schools at Joe Louis Arena.

5. Michigan State at Minnesota (March 10-11) - The final weekend of the season could have several implications in the Big Ten race. A year ago, the Spartans nearly played spoiler by soundly defeating the Gophers in East Lansing. Another one is likely needed to make an argument to save Tom Anastos' job.

4. Ohio State at Wisconsin (March 10-11) - Another final weekend showdown where both teams could be fighting for seeding, NCAA berths, or in the case of the Badgers, a possible title.

3. Minnesota at Penn State  (February 17-18) - The Gophers and Nittany Lions face each other for the second time in three weeks. Both teams will remember how last weekend went in a building where PSU has won games each of the past two seasons.

2. Penn State at Wisconsin (Friday-Saturday) - Winless in its last five, the Nittany Lions' season doesn't get any easier with a trip to Madison. Can Penn State turn things around and stay competitive?

1. Wisconsin at Minnesota (February 24-25) - Much of the top five has revolved around the Badgers and Gophers and for good reason. The two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. That includes a split in Madison last month. A showdown at Mariucci Arena could be the difference between Tony Granato's team completing a worst-to-first championship run or Minnesota taking home its fourth straight Big Ten regular season title.

Take away all that and it's still Minnesota and Wisconsin. Records can be taken out when generations of hatred reside, however, it adds to the rivalry when a trophy is on the line.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Story: Gophers hockey on a roll with PK (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

University of Minnesota sophomore forwards Jack Ramsey and Darian Romanko share a line that goes by several nicknames.

“Blue,” for both the jersey color worn in practice and collar style of play. And “trench line,” a name preferred by Ramsey, carried over from his time in junior hockey; it represents digging in and shutting down the top offensive line.

On special teams the 6-foot-1, 204-pound Romanko and the 6-3, 196-pound Ramsey have plenty of help — from scoring forward Justin Kloos to shot-blocking defenseman Jake Bischoff and stingy goalie Eric Schierhorn, among others — to dig in on a penalty kill that has played a major role in the Gophers’ No. 5 national ranking.

“It’s that consistency factor. We work on it a lot in practice,” said Ramsey. “I think a huge thing is we usually have six forwards killing. We have our pairs, so you know who your partner is all the time.”

After sweeping Penn State last weekend, the Gophers (17-7-2, 8-2-0 Big Ten) are a nation-best 10-2-0 since they last faced this weekend’s opponent, Ohio State (13-7-6, 4-5-1). That was at Mariucci Arena on Dec. 2-3 when the teams split a pair of games.

Click here to read the rest!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Puck Dynasty Podcast: How Many Big Ten Teams Will Make The NCAA Tournament (Episode 13)

Puck Dynasty is a weekly podcast covering the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team and college hockey. Nathan Wells (SB Nation College Hockey/various outlets), Declan Goff (1500 ESPN/GoMN Sports) and Drew Cove (Minnesota Daily) discuss the latest news, analysis and give their opinions about the Gophers and sport as a whole.

This week the crew break the show into three periods. First, Twitter questions are answered ranging from Casey Mittelstadt and the 2017 NHL Draft to rules to Minnesota North Star alums to how many Big Ten teams will make the NCAA Tournament. Then the show transitions into recapping Minnesota’s sweep over Penn State. Somewhere in that stretch dog-related analogies get used. Finally, the Gophers’ upcoming series against Ohio State is previewed.

Drew’s dad and anyone else getting a shout-out can directly download at 1500 ESPNPodcast One or subscribe on iTunes.

Follow Nate (@gopherstate), Declan (@dexstweets) and Drew (@drewcove48) on Twitter. If you like what you hear, be sure to give it a five star review on whatever platform you consume podcasts.

Show Notes:
-Nate’s Pairwise explainer can be read here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Eric Schierhorn and Kate Schipper earn player of the week awards

Another week, another award for Eric Schierhorn.

Schierhorn earned a Big Ten honor for the second straight week. This week he is joined by Kate Schipper as Gopher players recognized for their play.

Schierhorn was named the Big Ten First Star of the Week on Tuesday for his performance in Minnesota's 5-1 and 5-2 wins over Penn State. The sophomore goaltender stopped 66 of 69 shots against a Nittany Lions that entered the weekend as the most potent in college hockey.

Schierhorn gave credit for the performance to his teammates.

“It just shows it’s a team effort. Sometimes my first effort isn’t good enough,” Schierhorn said after Saturday's series sweep. “I think I said it last weekend. That’s how a team works. I bail them out, and sometimes they bail me out.”

Last week he was named the Third Star of the Week. Since Minnesota came back from holiday break on December 30th, Schierhorn has a .932 save percentage.

Joining Schierhorn were Ohio State's Nick Schilkey as the second star and Michigan's Cooper Marody as the third star. (Both finished with six points and were also among the 3 NCAA stars of the week.) In an offensive week, that left out Leon Bristedt, who finished with a hat trick Saturday.

Schipper was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week in her return performance from missing Minnesota's last 3 games.

The senior had a NCAA-high six points (3G-3A) in a pair of wins against Minnesota State. She was on the ice for seven of the ten goals the Gophers scored last weekend, as Minnesota advanced to 5-0-1 in its last six games.

UMD goalie Maddie Rooney was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Wisconsin freshman Abby Roque earned the WCHA Rookie of the Week honor.

The Gopher men head out to Ohio State for games Friday and Saturday. The Gopher women return home to Ridder Arena for only the second time in 2017 this weekend when Minnesota hosts North Dakota.

Pohl Talk: What does Minnesota need to do to clinch a NCAA Tournament berth?

It's Monday Tuesday which means the weekly rankings have been released. (Full disclosure: I don't vote in either.) Both Minnesota teams are ranked fifth in the poll with the men moving up two spost and the women moving down one following sweeps over Penn State and Minnesota State, respectively.

The Gopher women moving down to fifth matches its Pairwse ranking, which is the ranking which mimics the criteria used by the NCAA to determine the at-large bids. It wasn't by much. Minnesota moved by a single point among the 15 voters.

In the case of the men, the Gophers are, perception-wise, one back of its current Pairwise ranking although Minnesota is fourth in the other major poll, the USA Today/USA Hockey poll. So are the Gopher women, for what it's worth.

This week I wanted to answer two of the most frequently asked questions. What is the Pairwise and what do the Minnesota men need to do to clinch a NCAA Tournament berth?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blog: What They're Saying Around The Big Ten (February 6, 2017)

Minnesota stick saluting the crowd after Saturday's 5-2 win and series sweep of Penn State (Nathan Wells)
Last weekend in the Big Ten was a bit of a moving one as team's seasons went in different directions.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Game Story: Gophers sweep Penn State behind Leon Bristedt's hat trick (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/4/2017 Game Story

Penn State 2
Minnesota 5

MINNEAPOLIS- Leon Bristedt’s smile gave it away. The University of Minnesota junior forward ended Saturday night feeling good after completing his first collegiate hat trick.

His team shared in the feeling. The Gophers defeated Penn State 5-2 at Mariucci Arena to sweep the Nittany Lions in a series between teams heading in different directions.

“It’s always good when you win. It doesn’t really matter who you win against or what it is, but Penn State is a little special and it feels good that we got the sweep here,” Bristedt said.

The Gophers (17-7-2, 8-2-0-0 Big Ten) handed Penn State (16-6-2, 5-4-1-0) its fourth consecutive loss, becoming the first team this season to beat the Nittany Lions on consecutive nights.

Minnesota remained tied with Wisconsin, which defeated Michigan State in overtime, on top the Big Ten with 24 points each.

“We have to stay humble. We play them in two weeks again, so then we have a new series,” Bristedt said.

Minnesota bounced back from a pair of early deficits to take control during a three-goal second period. Penn State, having posted a season-low 29 shots a night prior in a 5-1 loss, finished with 40 on net Saturday.

Click here to read the rest!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pregame Blog: Rem Pitlick & freshmen shine + Minnesota-Penn State Saturday Line Combinations

Saturday's Game Info

#6/4 Penn State at #7 Minnesota

Date: February 4, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Place: Mariucci Arena
Stream: BTN2Go (Free for cable subscribers)
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Nate is covering for tonight: St. Paul Pioneer Press

After spending yesterday's blog detailing secondary scoring from the bottom-six forwards, Minnesota goes out and gets four even-strength goals from its top-six in a 5-1 win against Penn State.

Feature: Goaltender Emma May singing right tune (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

One of my goals with feature stories is to give off a sense of the subject's personality. In the case of Gopher hockey third string goalie Emma May that was pretty easy if the below lede is any indication.

The Gophers, for what it's worth, defeated Minnesota State 5-0 last night. Minnesota improves to 5-0-1 in its last six games after a rare losing streak.

Before games, Emma May likes to sing.

Not just sing, actually. The Gophers’ sophomore goaltender has a whole pregame routine designed to pump up her teammates and get herself into game mode. There are dance moves and a Disney movie-inspired handshake between May and her roommates — and singing to the point of being shushed.

Belting out whatever is in her head seems to help, and right now it’s Whitney Houston. May likes the high notes.

“I think to be a goalie, you definitely have to be a little weird,” said sophomore Sophie Skarzynski, one of May’s roommates and best friends. “Something that is special you don’t find in a lot of other players is Emma brings a consistent positive effort. It’s a real effort and energy to practice every single day, which is admirable.”

That effort comes through in the lack of doubt in her convictions. May, an Eagan native, grew up in a hockey family with her brother Eli, currently a defenseman at Augsburg. Emma started on the blue line, too until her second year of U12 hockey.

“I decided, ‘Yep, alright not good at defense. I’m going to play goalie,’” she said. “Playing goalie just kind of ended up being what I wanted to do with my life, and how I wanted to spend my time on the ice.”

Click here to read the rest!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pregame Blog: Why Joey Marooney is in tonight against Penn State + Minnesota Line Combinations

Friday's Game Info:

#6/4 Penn State at #7 Minnesota

Date: February 3, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Place: Mariucci Arena
TV: Fox Sports North Plus
Stream: BTN2Go (Free for cable subscribers)
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Nate is covering for tonight: SB Nation College Hockey

Not everything is set in Minnesota's forward lineup as the Gophers hit the stretch run of Big Ten conference play.

"There's some spots to be had right now and that's what we have to try and find out over the next month," said head coach Don Lucia.

Podcast: Minnesota Sports Fans Unfiltered #25

Earlier this week I was a guest on the Minnesota Sports Fan Unfiltered podcast, hosted by my old Wild Xtra colleagues Nick and Lonnie, to discuss the North Star College Cup ending.

You can listen below.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Puck Dynasty Podcast: What should the Gophers expect from Penn State? (Episode 12)

Puck Dynasty is a weekly podcast covering the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team and college hockey. Nathan Wells (SB Nation College Hockey/various outlets), Declan Goff (1500 ESPN/GoMN Sports) and Drew Cove (Minnesota Daily) discuss the latest news, analysis and give their opinions about the Gophers and sport as a whole.

This week’s episode begins by reviewing the fourth and final North Star College Cup. Minnesota’s lessons in defeat, Minnesota Duluth’s team in victory, Eric Schierhorn’s goaltending, scoring depth and the good, bad and ugly of the weekend tournament get discussed. The crew then looks ahead to Minnesota hosting Penn State at Mariucci Arena on Friday and Saturday and resetting the Big Ten. Four teams are within seven points of the lead with six weekends to go.

Afterwards Twitter questions on Penn State’s shot numbers and Leon Bristedt get answered.

Listeners trying to ice a lineup of six Scott Stevens on the blue line can directly download at 1500 ESPN, Podcast One or subscribe on iTunes

Follow Nate (@gopherstate), Declan (@dexstweets) and Drew (@drewcove48) on Twitter. If you like what you hear, be sure to give it a five star review on whatever platform you consume podcasts.