Minnesota Sports Briefs: Nathan no longer with TwinsMinnesota News
-- The all-time saves leader in Minnesota Twins history will no longer be pitching for the Twins. 37-year-old Joe Nathan signed a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers yesterday, with a team option for 2014.
MINNEAPOLIS - The all-time saves leader in Minnesota Twins history will no longer be pitching for the Twins. 37-year-old Joe Nathan signed a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers yesterday, with a team option for 2014.
Nathan returned this past season after Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2010 campaign. The right-hander made 48 appearances in 2011, going 2-1 with 14 saves and a 4.84 earned run average. He lost his closer job early in the season, then won it back for the end of the year. For his career, he has a 48-23 record with 261 saves and a 2.87 ERA in 581 games (29 starts) with San Francisco and Minnesota. Nathan had been with the Twins since 2004.
The University of Minnesota men's hockey team dropped from the top spot in the national USCHO.com Division I poll. Merrimack is the new No. 1 team with an 8-0-1 record, followed by Notre Dame, then Minnesota. Colorado College and Boston College round out the top five. The Golden Gophers split a pair of games last weekend at St. Cloud State and will play a non-conference series at No. 20 Michigan State on Friday and Saturday of this week. Red hot Minnesota-Duluth, the defending national champs, moved up two spots to No. 6 in this week's rankings.
The Golden Gopher women's hockey team remains the second-ranked team in the nation in the USCHO.com Division I poll, trailing on Wisconsin in the survey. Minnesota is 12-2 on the year, while the Badgers are 13-1. Minnesota-Duluth is ranked No. 8.
After having yesterday off, the University of Minnesota football team enters its final week of game preparation of the season. The season finale is set for Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium against Illinois. The 2-9 Gophers kick off against 6-5 Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Minnesota knocked off the Fighting Illini last year in Champaign.
When the inaugural Big Ten Championship Football game is played in Indianapolis on December 3rd, former University of Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster will be on the sidelines working as a television reporter. Brewster has been a part of the FX and FOX Network television crew all season, working both NCAA and NFL games with Gus Johnson and Charles Davis. FOX is the network that will televise the Big Ten title tilt. Interestingly, there's a chance Brewster could have to interview one of his most bitter rivals when he was the coach at Minnesota. If Wisconsin beats Penn State this weekend, the Badgers would qualify for the game. Brewster had a handful of highly-publicized spat with Bielema when the two coached against each other.
Larry Munson, the legendary radio voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, has died. The 89-year-old Munson, who had been in poor health in recent years, died Sunday. Munson was noted for his play-by-play coverage of the University of Georgia Bulldogs that was never objective. He very much wanted UGA to win and became famous for calling on the team to "hunker down one more time." Munson was born in Minneapolis and attended Minnesota State-Moorhead before moving on to his radio career.
Pittsburgh star hockey player Sidney Crosby made a memorable return to the ice, scoring twice and notching two assists as the Penguins sailed by the Islanders 5-0 last night in Pennsylvania. Crosby hadn't skated in a game since early January, when a pair of bruising hits over a five-day span sidelined him with the effects of a concussion. Evgeni Malkin tallied and added an assist as the Pens snapped a two-game skid. Crosby played prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault.
The Minnesota Wild will have a morning skate today at the Xcel Energy Center as they get ready for tomorrow night's game against Nashville at 7 p.m. Minnesota is atop the Northwest Division standings and has won four games in a row.
The MIAC has named its weekly award winners in hockey. Concordia-Moorhead sophomore goaltender Chris Neamonitis of Montreal is the Men's Player of the Week after blocking 40 Bethel shots in a 1-0 win on Saturday. St. Olaf freshman goalie Ali McKeever of Woodbury is the Women's Player of the Week after notching two wins last week for the Oles.
The MIAC is out with its weekly honorees in men's and women's swimming and diving. Saint John's senior diver Wes Schlichting of Sauk Rapids is the men's honoree, while Saint Benedict sophomore swimmer Ellen Dean of Bothell, Washington is the female winner.