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Are The Golden Gophers Back To Restoring Their Place As Minnesota's 'pride On Ice'?

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Are the Golden Gophers back to being Minnesota's 'Pride on Ice'?

Why the 2011-12 Gophers are getting closer to restoring the title of Minnesota's 'Pride on Ice'

Written by Derek Felska | 28 January 2012

While I mainly focus on the Minnesota Wild here at the State of Hockey News, I am also an avid college hockey fan and being from the land of (over) 10,000 lakes gave me plenty of options as there are now five Division I teams and ten Division III teams for men and women. That's 30 college hockey teams in one state! Just as the NHL's Wild have marketed Minnesota as the State of Hockey, the University of Minnesota Men's hockey program has been calling themselves "Minnesota's Pride on Ice" for years. Yet the last few seasons prior to 2011-12 the 'Pride' was lacking by quite a bit. After its most recent peak of back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 2003 the Golden Gophers had a steady slide of underwhelming seasons with its last NCAA tournament appearance in 2008. The mediocre play wasn't just having an effect in the win and loss column but also at the gate as you saw more and more empty seats. The once dominating home-ice advantage of a loud and raucous crowd had steadily diminished.

Throughout those years many Gopher fans (myself included) began to question whether Head Coach Don Lucia had lost his magic, with more than a few hoping the University of Minnesota's Athletic Director, Joel Maturi would finally drop the axe on Lucia. The club certainly was not losing those games because of a complete lack of talent; as it continually had the most NHL drafted players of any team in college hockey. Many of these players were 1st, 2nd round selections as well. Names like Phil Kessel, Kyle Okposo, Erik Johnson, David Fischer, Aaron Ness, Mike Hoeffel, Jordan Schroeder, Minnesota Wild's former 1st rounder Nick Leddy and many others arrived with lots of hype and talk of promising NHL futures so the Gophers should've just crushed their competition right? It was not uncommon for Minnesota to be dressing as many as 13-14 (or more) NHL drafted players in a game, a number that many American Hockey League teams could not boast. The Gophers were losing games because they played a maddeningly disorganized brand of hockey. A team full of freelancers that rolled 4 lines of players who all felt they should be on the top line and an overall approach that did not bring about a lot of consistency or team cohesion. Yes there certainly were early departures that forced the club to lean on younger players but they were not the only team to face this kind of adversity. The power play that made the Gophers so incredibly dangerous in their national championshp years had quickly become a distant memory and the club was sloppy and indecisive. The team's record speaks for itself.

2007-08 ~ 19-7-9

2008-09 ~ 17-13-7

2009-10 ~ 18-19-2

2010-11 ~ 16-14-6

2011-12 ~ 19-9-1

The records may not jump out as a complete eye sore but for a program considered to be one of college hockey's elite, their results were unacceptable. The Gophers still have a roster full of NHL drafted talent, 17 players to be precise, so why has this version of Maroon-&-Gold clad players managed to play such a strong team game where the other talented groups were not capable of doing so? (click on the link for the rest of the article)

So what do you think? Are they closer to being one of college hockey's elite or is it just smoke and mirrors?

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So what do you think? Are they closer to being one of college hockey's elite or is it just smoke and mirrors?

I've been excited to see their progress this year. That said, they were completely outmatched in the game against Notre Dame. Their position in the pairwise reflects that they've won the games they 'should', but have struggled against top opponents.

More troubling to me is what is on the horizon for 2012-2013. I don't know anything about the sophomore goalie, Shibrowski, and he's not likely to get any starts this year. Helgeson will be the only senior, and I have to expect Florida would like to see Bjugstad turn pro. Their ability to patch those holes - particularly in net - will be more telling than one year of competitive play.

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I've been excited to see their progress this year. That said, they were completely outmatched in the game against Notre Dame. Their position in the pairwise reflects that they've won the games they 'should', but have struggled against top opponents.

More troubling to me is what is on the horizon for 2012-2013. I don't know anything about the sophomore goalie, Shibrowski, and he's not likely to get any starts this year. Helgeson will be the only senior, and I have to expect Florida would like to see Bjugstad turn pro. Their ability to patch those holes - particularly in net - will be more telling than one year of competitive play.

Fair enough, but they do have another solid group of incoming freshman for next year. Will they be able to replace Bjugstad, doubtful. However, at least Shibrowski will have a good defense in front of him.

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This year has by far been the most encouraging in years and it's not even close. However, still too early to tell, how the Gophers do in the WCHA tournament and an NCAA bid will determine how far the program has come back.

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I'm just happy to see them competing and showing up.

I was with the majority in really busting Lucia's arse for not having the boys ready to play, I don't think he's the greatest motivator, Not enough can be said in having Guentzel back.

Next years class is decent, but the following year with Fasching, Cammarata, Lettieri, (and more - some solid blue liners) is probably the most potent class in ages.

Been a great season, and I think if they show up and play UP they can go as far as they want, I think they're as dominant as any team in College Hockey.

in 2 weeks the WCHA really heats up, UMD SHOULD collect 4 points next weekend @UAA, then we're off to the races.

Feb 10th and 11th

MN@DU

UND@UMD

I like Lucia, but the past few seasons have been difficult to stomache.

________________________________

St Cloud's Motzko is one of the best in the biz imo and he had his boys playing hard all season, bummer to see that team so decimated with injury, that kid in net last night has a bright future, holy shnikeys!

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They need some new jerseys.... big time. Those things are horrendous. I know maroon and gold are tough colors to work with, but c'mon.

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They need some new jerseys.... big time. Those things are horrendous. I know maroon and gold are tough colors to work with, but c'mon.

Those are the best jerseys they've had in a while. I got sick of the Gohpers changing jerseys seemingly every 3 years last decade, I'm glad they've stuck with these for a while.

As far as being back, they're on the way but they're not there yet. Too many nights where the offense puts up a dud. Games like the 2-1 loss to CC didn't happen back with the National title teams. I went to alot of home games back then. Even if they got off to a slow start there was always a feeling of not IF they were going to win but WHEN they were going to.

Next years recruits as of now:

Reilly, Connor C Penticton (BCHL)

Reilly, Michael D Penticton (BCHL)

Reilly, Ryan W Penticton (BCHL)

Skjei, Brady D U.S. National Team

Wilcox, Adam G Tri-City Storm (USHL)

I wouldn't be surprised to see a NAHL type goalie picked up to back up Wilcox (who I think will play a ton as a Frosh) and Shibrowski. The rest of the recruits look Reilly good.

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Those are the best jerseys they've had in a while. I got sick of the Gohpers changing jerseys seemingly every 3 years last decade, I'm glad they've stuck with these for a while.

As far as being back, they're on the way but they're not there yet. Too many nights where the offense puts up a dud. Games like the 2-1 loss to CC didn't happen back with the National title teams. I went to alot of home games back then. Even if they got off to a slow start there was always a feeling of not IF they were going to win but WHEN they were going to.

Next years recruits as of now:

Reilly, Connor C Penticton (BCHL)

Reilly, Michael D Penticton (BCHL)

Reilly, Ryan W Penticton (BCHL)

Skjei, Brady D U.S. National Team

Wilcox, Adam G Tri-City Storm (USHL)

I wouldn't be surprised to see a NAHL type goalie picked up to back up Wilcox (who I think will play a ton as a Frosh) and Shibrowski. The rest of the recruits look Reilly good.

Isn't Justin Kloos amongst nest years recruits?

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He might be, as of now he's only a verbal commit. I got my info from this, http://www.gopherhockeyhistory.com/players/recruits.asp, as I don't follow the recruiting trail much

Thanks, I knew he was in there.

I use that page alot.

I'm very excited for the following years class, Nanne, his cousin Lettieri, Fasching and Cammarata.

Chase Broten is a couple years away yet.

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Minnesota's pride on ice still resides in Duluth.

Defending national champs and #1 team in the nation.

Go Bulldogs!

Two of the top three teams residing in Minnesota - pretty good showing for the home teams.

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Don't forget A.J. Michaelson too. He's playing in the USHL this year. I think Michaelson is a likely candidate to get a chance to play next year. Adam Wilcox is a great goalie, I watched him play for South St. Paul a few times; very solid.

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Those are the best jerseys they've had in a while. I got sick of the Gohpers changing jerseys seemingly every 3 years last decade, I'm glad they've stuck with these for a while.

I'd love these again

2790098810100337552S425x425Q85.jpg

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I'd love these again

2790098810100337552S425x425Q85.jpg

ACK!!! just like the lameass football unis! The rodents are supposed to be Maroon and GOLD (As in what Purdue or Notre Dame wears) - NOT Maroon and PEE Yellow ...brutal

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Don't forget A.J. Michaelson too. He's playing in the USHL this year. I think Michaelson is a likely candidate to get a chance to play next year. Adam Wilcox is a great goalie, I watched him play for South St. Paul a few times; very solid.

What style of goalie is Wilcox? He doesn't play the puck recklessly like his cousin Alex Stalock does, does he?

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Minnesota's pride on ice still resides in Duluth.

Defending national champs and #1 team in the nation.

Go Bulldogs!

Two of the top three teams residing in Minnesota - pretty good showing for the home teams.

Ha, good try, but might want to time that better next time. ;) UMD is in fact not the #1 team in the nation, and certainly is not in Minnesota. Yes, very happy they finally one their FIRST national title last year, but when they get five more like the Gophers let me know. And the pride on ice will forever reside on the University of Minnesota campus, because there's one thing the U of M is and that is still the center of hockey and the true pride of Minnesota. Exactly why everyone else hates us, and why none of them can live up to us. Like i said, nice try, but i suggest you try and be #1 in the conference let alone the nation again before you come talking. :D

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Ha, good try, but might want to time that better next time. ;) UMD is in fact not the #1 team in the nation, and certainly is not in Minnesota. Yes, very happy they finally one their FIRST national title last year, but when they get five more like the Gophers let me know. And the pride on ice will forever reside on the University of Minnesota campus, because there's one thing the U of M is and that is still the center of hockey and the true pride of Minnesota. Exactly why everyone else hates us, and why none of them can live up to us. Like i said, nice try, but i suggest you try and be #1 in the conference let alone the nation again before you come talking. :D

Update, finally re read this and I'm thinking you meant to say UMD was not the #1 team in Minnesota. NM

What do you mean UMD "is not in Minnesota"? Geography major? Just because it's a bridge away from Wisconsin doesn't mean it's not in Minnesota. St. Cloud on the other hand, as far as I'm concerned is part of Alabama. :lol:

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UMD is in fact not the #1 team in the nation, and certainly is not in Minnesota.

UMD is #1 in pairwise aren't they? That being the most important rankings tells me they are the #1 team in the nation.

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UMD is #1 in pairwise aren't they? That being the most important rankings tells me they are the #1 team in the nation.

Yep.

If the tournament started today, the Goph's would be a 3-seed in a far-flung regional.

From the games I've seen, that's about right.

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Update, finally re read this and I'm thinking you meant to say UMD was not the #1 team in Minnesota. NM

What do you mean UMD "is not in Minnesota"? Geography major? Just because it's a bridge away from Wisconsin doesn't mean it's not in Minnesota. St. Cloud on the other hand, as far as I'm concerned is part of Alabama. :lol:

You didn't get that at first from what i said? :lol: Seriously though, sometimes the way i phrase things makes more sense in my head then online. But yes UMD is in Minnesota, but not the #1 team. If St. Cloud State is in Alabama, then MSU is in Texas. ;)

If the Gophers take care of their own business and win the WCHA tournament i'm sure they will still jump up in the pairwise rankings, non conference is bad, but it seems slightly ridiculous to be rated #1 in the nation, be #1 in the WCHA yet be so low in the pairwise.

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If the Gophers take care of their own business and win the WCHA tournament i'm sure they will still jump up in the pairwise rankings.

@Denver

Bemidji

@Omaha

Wisconsin

If they do better than a split in those two road series, I'll start believing they are ready for the postseason. All four teams currently have RPI greater than .500 and are TUC for the PWR. Taking care of their business starts now, not in the Final Five.

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@Denver

Bemidji

@Omaha

Wisconsin

If they do better than a split in those two road series, I'll start believing they are ready for the postseason. All four teams currently have RPI greater than .500 and are TUC for the PWR. Taking care of their business starts now, not in the Final Five.

Workin on an alumni suite for the Beavers tilts B)

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I do think things were getting within range of letting Lucia go as a thinkable scenario --particularly with Mike Ramsey "on the beach" and just hanging around, showing his face once in awhile and reminding everyone that option is clearly out there.

Let's see how far they go.

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