It has been a busy week for several Minnesota Golden Gophers sports teams. We are under two weeks until Gopher Football opens up the season under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium. Gopher Soccer begins their 2018 campaign tonight in Utah. The #4 ranked Gopher volleyball team is a week away from starting its season hopefully where it will end it. And The Gopher Hockey Team is taking advantage of Wisconsin’s misfortune. Always a winner. Look below for some good links on these nugz, and more!
Like I said above, two weeks from now we will be analyzing the Gophers first game of the season against New Mexico State. Big Ten Network was in town yesterday for their live report from Gopher practice, and they provided plenty of good content:
To no one's surprise, @Coach_Fleck wasn't shy when we mic'd him up today on our Bus Tour stop.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) August 17, 2018
Listen in for some Elite @GopherFootball audio. pic.twitter.com/eiiLSnyWTI
How has the @GopherFootball QB competition been shaping up during fall camp?— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) August 17, 2018
OC Kirk Ciarrocca shares what he's seen out of the Gopher signal callers as they gear up for the 2018 season. pic.twitter.com/Ljbn3U36nA
This was an elite interview. @Coach_Fleck talks about what he's seen from his team in fall camp as he gears up for Year 2 as @GopherFootball head coach. pic.twitter.com/y1ORMFzYkv— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) August 17, 2018
The Star Tribune’s Megan Ryan has a great profile on Tyler Johnson.
Randy Johnson of the Strib recaps Thursday’s practice and looks at the QB competition. We have been bereft at using this so far this fall....but it’s time #QBGaze18
Former Gopher Jalen Myrick is back in town as the Jacksonville Jaguars held two practices with the Minnesota Vikings this week before their preseason game on Saturday. Chris Long of KSTP sat down with Myrick for a chat.
Remember when Blake hyped up Seth Green here about a month ago? He may have been on to something:
Great toss, better catch. @GopherFootball is getting after it: pic.twitter.com/3kmjCEg7YE— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) August 16, 2018
Also in case you missed this from earlier in the week, with all the press around the Maryland football situation and their culture and coaching behaviors, this is a nice refreshing change of pace.
All ❤️ from @Coach_Fleck! #Gophers #SkiUMah #RTB pic.twitter.com/pAlOfKPpjz— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) August 14, 2018
Gopher Men’s Basketball
We have a game time for the Gophers first game at the Vancouver Showcase against Texas A&M. The Gophers will play the Aggies in the nightcap of the event from Vancouver BC at 9:30 PM Central on Sunday November 18th on ESPN2. The consolation and championship games will take place on Tuesday November 20th. Note—Times on the graphic below are in pacific time.
2018 Vancouver Showcase Men's Whistler Bracket:— Vancouver Showcase (@VanShowcase) August 16, 2018
Sunday, Nov. 18@UW_MBB vs @SantaClaraHoops at 5 PM (ESPNews or ESPN3)@aggiembk vs @GopherMBB at 7:30 PM (ESPN2)
Tuesday, Nov. 20
Consolation Game at 6 PM
Championship Game at 8:30 PM (ESPN2)
️: https://t.co/0bXmE9F8r4 pic.twitter.com/5EeE56VSXT
According to Marcus Fuller of the Star Tribune, next Tuesday at 2:00 PM we will finally have the full Big Ten schedules for all of the schools. Hopefully that means we will get the full Gopher Non-Schedule as well. It’s almost September—its about damn time.
Next Tuesday 2 p.m. CT @BigTenNetwork will air complete conference schedules for 2018-19 men’s and women’s basketball on Basketball & Beyond show— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) August 16, 2018
The Gophers have two official visits set up for kids in the 2019 class for the next month. Austin Crowley a 4-star guard is set to visit on August 30th, and Luke Anderson a 3-star power forward from Florida is set to visit from September 7-9th.
Gopher Women’s Basketball:
Of course the big news of the week was Gopher Head Coach Lindsay Whalen announcing that this would be her last season playing for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA. Her last regular season game is this Sunday at the Target Center.
Her team is back in the US after a week long trip to Italy that saw the Gophers go 3-0 against European teams including a crazy 103-34 win over Italian Select on Thursday.
Sunday it took a Destiny Pitts buzzer-beating runner to defeat German Team TK Hanover 65-63.
At the buzzer!@desip33 comes through with the game-winning shot for the #Gophers. pic.twitter.com/Vm9r5ig9DB— Minnesota WBB (@GopherWBB) August 12, 2018
Gopher Men’s Hockey
Minnesota has apparently taken advantage of a Wisconsin loss this week. Finnish forward Sampo Ranna was a third round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL Draft this past June and was set to be an incoming forward for the Badgers this fall. However, apparently there was some issue with an English as a Foreign Language test score and he was having trouble getting admitted to Wisconsin. He asked for and was released from his letter of intent as Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal reports.
While nothing has been officiall confirmed by the U, several tweets yesterday indicated that Rampo has decided he wants to stay and play in the Big Ten and will be enrolling at Minnesota instead.
Sampo Ranta to Minnesota, per NCAA source— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) August 16, 2018
Newest @GopherHockey commit is Sampo Ranta, a Finnish LW who had picked Wisconsin but allegedly had admissions trouble in Madison. Third-round @Avalanche draft pick.— Jess Myers (@JessRMyers) August 16, 2018
For more on Ranta, check out this profile of him by our Colorado Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. I think Gopher fans will be quite happy to have him in maroon and gold and not red and white, If he can be even remotely like the last beloved Finn to wear the maroon and gold, all will be just fine.
The Gophers also got a commitment from one of the best defensemen in the birth year of 2001 earlier this week in Ryan Johnson. Johnson is the son of former Gopher Craig Johnson who played in the early 1990s and lives in Southern California where the family settled after Craig played in the Los Angeles Kings organization.
One of the top US 2001 defensemen @ryanyonson is a #Gophers commit.— Eric Vegoe (@evegoe) August 10, 2018
Played on 2017 gold medal USA five nations squad, was taken 3rd overall by @sfstampede in 2017 Phase I Draft, son of former Gopher Craig Johnson: https://t.co/cf2cT1jGyx https://t.co/dv6pa6F9u0
Gopher Women’s Hockey:
Several Gophers players and commits are participating in the US and Canada U18 and U22 series this weekend in Calgary. Five commits are on the U-18 squad, Addie Burton, Abbey Murphy, Sydney Shearan, Maggie Nicholson, and Skylar Vetter. Murphy had an assist and Vettetr stopped 28 shots in the USA’s 2-1 OT win over Canada on Thursday.
Three current Gophers, Taylor Heise, Patti Marshall, and Graze Zumwinkle and one Gopher commit in Madeline Wethington are on the U-22 team, The Gophers figured prominently in the 4-1 victory over Canada on Thursday with Heise scoring a pair of goals and Zumwinkle adding an empty net goal.
On the Canadian side, redshirt junior Sarah Potomak is an assistant captain for the red and black:
Meet your Team Canada captains!— Team Canada Women (@HC_Women) August 16, 2018
NWDT: @micahhart_8 (C), @KristinONeill10 (A), @sarahpotomak9 (A)
WU18: @MMacEachern21 (C), @AlexieGuay (A), Grace Shirley (A) pic.twitter.com/Egz5tLNTSu
It’s not just the men racking up the recruits as well as Brad Frost got not one, not two, but THREE commits Friday morning from young Minnesota players. All three won’t be eligible to join the Gophers until the fall of 2022.
@GopherWHockey gets not one, not two, but THREE commits today...all 9th graders for 2020-21: Allie Franco (Mahtomedi), Madison Kaiser (Andover), and Claire Enright @claireenright21 (Farmington).— Dan Hamann (@DanHamann19) August 17, 2018
It may be a while before we see them wearing the "M", but welcome to all.
The Gopher soccer team kicks off their 2018 regular season Friday night with a game at the Utah Utes. They then will follow that up with a same Sunday against Utah State. Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press has a nice preview of a team that loses two key seniors from a season ago in Sydney Squires and Juliana Gernes. Squires led the Big Ten with 14 goals and Gernes was second on the team with 9.
Minnesota will be looking to rely on a tight knit five member senior class. Emily Heslin, April Bockin, Molly Fiedler, Emily Peterson and Maddie Castro all will put on the of maroon and gold for one more season. They will need to step up their offensive production but the five did combine to record 41 of the 127 points the Gophers had in 2017.
The Gophers were projected to finish sixth in the Big Ten this season by the coaches. But, as Greder points out, Minnesota is used to over achieving. The Gophers were projected to finish sixth in 2016 and won the conference outright. They were predicted to finish fifth a year ago and came in second. Hopefully history repeats its self once again.
Here is a remarkable story in case you missed it, which is partially our fault. Former Gopher Softball All-American Sara Groenewegen was playing this summer for the Canadian National Team when she started to feel ill. It ended up that she came down with Legionnaire's Disease which causes a severe form of pneumonia. It got so bad that she had to be put into a medically induced coma for over a week to let her lungs heal, and still has a long road to recovery ahead of her. She recapped her illness with Graham Hayes of ESPNW, and its an absolutely insane read. Hopefully Groenewegen will recover to full strength in tie to help the Canadian team earn a berth next summer for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
One small positive to come out of Groenewegen’s fight was once again PJ Fleck and the Gopher Football program were able to lend a show of support through a oar donation.
“Our culture is all about rowing the boat, a lifestyle and mantra that focus on keeping your oar in the water and rowing no matter what adversities you face in life” Thx @gopherfootball & @Coach_Fleck for your support in my fight against my health adversities lately. ROW THE BOAT pic.twitter.com/cQ4gGzQiQY— Sara Groenewegen (@saragroe) August 10, 2018
Three Gophers were named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team this week. Sophomore Stephanie Samedy and senior Samantha Seliger-Swenson were unanimously named to the squad while junior Alexis Hart garnered enough votes to also make it. The three members were the most of any Big Ten team.
The Gophers were projected to finish third in the Big Ten by the conference coaches this week. Nebraska was projected to win the Big Ten with Wisconsin coming in second place. It is both similar and different to the national poll which had the Cornhuskers ranked #2 in the country, Minnesota fourth, and the Badgers 9th with Penn State coming in at 6th place.