MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Outdoor hockey at TCF Stadium tonight
MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota's No. 1 ranked college hockey teams are hosting a pair of outdoor hockey games today at TCF Stadium dubbed the Hockey City Classic.
The Golden Gopher women play Minnesota State-Mankato at 4:30pm and the Gopher men face Ohio State at 8pm. The Gophers dropped a 3-2 decision to Wisconsin in the inaugural Hockey City Classic last winter at Chicago's Soldier Field. The U of M is expecting more than 43,000 fans for today's games and tickets are still availble in the 50,000-seat stadium.
University of Minnesota sophomore quarterback Phillip Nelson of Mankato has decided to leave the University of Minnesota and pursue his college career at another school. Nelson wrote in a statement that he wants to play somewhere with an offense that passes more to better utilize his skills. Gopher head coach Jerry Kill called Nelson a "terrific young man" who wished the quarterback well in the future. Nelson did not say where he was planning to transfer to. Nelson helped the Gophers to an 8-5 record this past season and a trip to the Texas Bowl in Houston.
The Minnesota Vikings will formally introduce their new head coach Mike Zimmer at a news conference this morning at team headquarters in Eden Prairie. 57-year-old Zimmer talked to Vikings.com ahead of time, saying he's a midwestern guy who grew up in Illinois, and the Vikings tradition in Minnesota is fantastic. He says he really cherishes the Hall of Famers and the Purple People-Eaters. Zimmer has been the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals since 2008. Zimmer has 20 years of assistant coaching experience in the NFL, but has never been a head coach. He takes over for the fired Leslie Frazier.
Minnesota's Nate Prosser scored an NHL goal for the first time in 68 games and the Wild skated by Edmonton 4-1 in St. Paul last night. Jason Pominville added a goal and an assist, while Jason Zucker tallied a marker in the victory for Minnesota. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made his third straight start and blocked 20 shots to earn the win. Last night was the 1000th regular season game in Wild franchise history. Minnesota is 457-400-and-143 in the first 1000 regular season contests. The Wild hosts Dallas tomorrow night to close out a three-game homestand. The opening faceoff tomorrow is set for 8 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center.
T.J. Brennan notched the game-winner in overtime to lift Toronto to a 4-3 win over the AHL Iowa Wild in Des Moines Wednesday night. Carson McMillan scored and added an assist for the Wild, who dropped to 15-16-3-2 on the season. Johan Gustafsson made 33 saves in net for Iowa. The Iowa Wild host Lake Erie tonight and Saturday in Iowa's capital city.
University of Minnesota center Elliott Eliason racked up 12 points and 13 rebounds as the Golden Gophers upset ninth-ranked Ohio State 63-53 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis last night. Deandre Mathieu scored 13 points and Andre Hollins had 10 points and six boards for the Golden Gophers, who improved to 14-4 on the season and 3-2 in the Big Ten. LaQuinton Ross scored a game-high 22 points for the Buckeyes, who slipped to 15-3 and 2-3 with their third straight loss. Sam Thompson tallied 12 points off the pine in defeat. Minnesota outrebounded Ohio State 39-to-24. The Gophers play at Iowa on Sunday.
The Golden Gopher women's basketball team gave No. 16 Nebraska all it wanted in Lincoln last night, but the Cornhuskers rallied for an 88-85 overtime win in Big Ten play. The Gophers led most of the way before giving way to Nebraska late. Minnesota guard Rachel Banham hit a three-point shot with six-seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. Banham finished the game with 33 points. Nebraska outscored the Gophers 10-7 in the extra session. Minnesota is now 12-6 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten. Nebraska is 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the league. The Gophers are at Indiana on Sunday.
The Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Toronto Raptors tonight in an NBA game north of the border. The Wolves are coming off of a disappointing 111-108 setback at home to the Kings on Wednesday night. Tonight's game begins at 6 p.m. Sacramento's Rudy Gay posted 33 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Kings escaped Minnesota with a 111-108 win over the Timberwolves Wednesday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Isaiah Thomas chipped in with 26 points and seven assists for Sacramento, which has won four-of-five. DeMarcus Cousins helped out with 20 points and 11 boards in the win. Kevin Love had 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Minnesota, which has lost three-of-four. Nikola Pekovic added 14 points and eight boards in the loss. The Wolves dipped to 17-19 on the season. Head coach Rick Adelman was disappointed with his team's energy level through the first three quarters of play.
Cloquet native Jamie Langenbrunner, who was on two Stanley Cup-winning teams and who captained the 2010 U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal, has retired from hockey. The veteran forward had not been on an NHL roster this season. The 38-year old Langenbrunner said it was "a dream come true to have the opportunity to play in the NHL for 16 seasons," according to an NHL Players Association news release. Langenbrunner played for the Dallas Stars from 1994-2002, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 1999, and again for part of the 2010-11 season. He played for the New Jersey Devils for parts of nine seasons, winning another Cup in 2003, and spent his last two seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Last February, Langenbrunner had season-ending hip surgery after playing just four games. He finished his career with 243 goals and 663 points in 1,109 games. He had 34 goals and 87 points in 146 postseason games. Langbrunner led Cloquet to two appearances at the Minnesota state hockey tournament and was the state player of the year as a junior.
The 54th annual Twins Caravan continues throughout the Upper Midwest this week and next week. Twins pitcher Brian Duensing, outfielder Ryan Pressly, and broadcaster Dick Bremer are scheduled to make four stops in Minnesota today. Minnesota pitchers Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, former star Tony Oliva, and broadcaster Cory Provus will be in Minnesota and Wisconsin today. Here is the remaining tentative schedule of the Twins Caravan (guests and schedule subject to change without notice):
Monday, January 20th: Valley City (ND), Jamestown (ND), Detroit Lakes, Fargo -- Swarzak, Plouffe, Steinbach, Blyleven, St. Peter
Monday, January 20th: Minneapolis, Waconia, Glencoe, Montevideo, Willmar -- Perkins, Dozier, Brunansky, Gladden
Tuesday, January 21st: Grand Forks (ND), Crookston, Erskine, Bagley, Bemidji -- Swarzak, Plouffe, Steinbach, Blyleven
Tuesday, January 21st: Benson, Ortonville, Wahpeton (ND), Fergus Falls -- Perkins, Dozier, Brunansky, Gladden
Tuesday, January 21st: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington -- Mauer, Florimon, Nolasco, Atteberry
Wednesday, January 22nd: Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Ely -- Swarzak, Plouffe, Steinbach, Blyleven
Wednesday, January 22nd: Morris, Glenwood, Freeport, Alexandria -- Perkins, Dozier, Brunansky, Gladden
Wednesday, January 22nd: Pine City, Amery (WI), Red Wing -- Florimon, Nolasco, Bremer
Thursday, January 23rd: Virginia, Cloquet, Duluth -- Swarzak, Plouffe, Steinbach, Blyleven
Thursday, January 23rd: Wadena, Aitkin, Brainerd, Little Falls -- Perkins, Dozier, Fien, Diamond, Brunansky, Gladden