MINNEAPOLIS — Recently, the Olympic-sized ice cap took another step toward the dusty shelf of college hockey history where it will one day reside alongside Cooperalls, one-piece Pro-Tec helmets and the aluminum hockey stick. Once coveted Christian Brothers.
Years of talk about the shrinking huge ice cap inside 3M Arena at Mariucci became official University of Minnesota policy at a June meeting of the school’s board of trustees. , which has approved $14 million for a plan that will upgrade the ice plant used for the arena. and for the adjoining Ridder Arena. The funding request included detailed plans to shrink the ice sheet from its current dimensions (200 feet long by 100 feet wide) and add “on the glass” seating.
The project, which is expected to materialize within a year, will leave the Gophers men with an ice cap larger than the standard NHL size (200ft x 85ft) and will likely be a hybrid closer to 200ft x 92ft. The renovations will also change the radius of the corners of the rink, which are currently close to square, to make them more gradual.
Much like playing in the air in places like Colorado enters the minds of some visiting players, Minneapolis’ massive ice cap has been a talking point for visitors since the 10,000-seat rink opened in 1993. Michigan coach Mel Pearson has always stressed the risk of his defenders straying too far from their own net with 15 more feet of zone to defend in Minnesota.
Gophers coach Bob Motzko, who also coached on an Olympic-sized rink at the National Hockey Center when he was head coach at St. Cloud State, has always downplayed the difference rink dimensions make in the actual course of the game. But he has recognized for several years that changes will occur on the Gophers rink.
“There will be a day when we reduce our rink. But I don’t think that’s a big deal,” Motzko said in an interview with The Rink Live at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. wide, but it will happen and I think it will improve the fan experience as well. It will be a little tighter, a little more physical and it will be great for hockey. »
The larger ice caps commonly seen in Europe were kind of a college hockey fad three decades ago when the replacement for the old Mariucci Arena was being designed. Along with the Gophers and SCSU, arenas used by Wisconsin, Alaska Anchorage, Minnesota State Mankato and others have either been built with Olympic-size ice or reconfigured to expand their playing surface. It was believed that the extra space would lead to a faster, more open brand of hockey that amplified skill. This idea had its detractors from the start.
Gophers hockey legend Lou Nanne told The Rink Live that the U of M has the best rink in college hockey, with one exception.
“It’s phenomenal, I didn’t like the surface of the ice. Never, never will. Way too big, and I always thought that was a big mistake,” said Nanne, who captained the Gophers in 1963 and had a son and two grandsons in the program. “It amplifies errors. You have to be a very good team to play effectively on a large ice rink, with passing. But more than that, it takes away your ability to verify. You have to wait for someone to hit them because they are so far away.
The move to larger ice surfaces is a trend that has died out, and the term “Olympic size” is a misnomer these days, as hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics in China was played on a NHL-sized ice cap.
Former Gopher Westrum honored by USA Hockey
For Minneapolis native Pat Westrum, college hockey ended long before anyone heard of Watergate, when memories of Woodstock were still fresh for most Americans. But he never quit the game which has been an important part of his life.
Westrum, a longtime coach in suburban Twin Cities, was honored this week for his lifelong dedication to the sport by the national governing body of American hockey.
At a banquet in Denver on Friday, June 10, Westrum received USA Hockey’s Walter Yaciuk Award, which is given annually “to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the organization’s coaching education program during many years of service as a volunteer.
While at one point the training trend was to yell and yell and be strict discipline, Westrum, now 74, learned the game on neighborhood rinks in Minneapolis and always believed that a more free and fun version of the game is what interests children and keeps them involved.
“For me, it was about bringing the playground back to the kids…because that’s what I grew up with,” Westrum said in a statement distributed by USA Hockey. “Children don’t have that anymore. Everything is so, so structured.
Westrum skated for the Gophers from 1967 to 1970 and is currently head coach of Minnesota’s District 6. He has served the United States Hockey Coaching Education Program since 1995, served as an amateur scout for NHL teams, and played for the United States Men’s National Team. and in the World Hockey Association. His son Erik skated for the Gophers in the late 1990s and early 2000s for Doug Woog and Don Lucia, and is now the head coach of Holy Family Catholic.
Women Gophers appoint quartet of captains
In what must be a first for the program, aided by a player returning from an Olympic year and utilizing the additional ‘COVID year’ of NCAA eligibility, the Gophers women’s hockey team will have four fifth grade seniors. year as captains. season.
At the end of May, coach Brad Frost announced that Abigail Boreen, Taylor Heise, Gracie Ostertag and Grace Zumwinkle will all wear the “C” for the first time in their careers for the 2022-23 season.
“We are very pleased to announce that Grace, Taylor, Gracie and Abigail will be our captains,” Frost said in a statement released by the school. “They are all exceptional hockey players, but more importantly, they are great people and leaders. They all bring unique personalities, styles, perspectives and experiences that will benefit our team this coming year.
Zumwinkle will be back in maroon and gold after bringing home a silver medal from China, where she skated for Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics last February.
Heise, who served as an alternate captain for the 2021-22 season, became Minnesota’s third Patty Kazmaier Award winner — given to the nation’s top female college hockey players — while leading the nation in points.
Ostertag was also an assistant captain last season. The defenseman scored a career-high four goals, including three on the power play, before suffering a season-ending injury after 14 games.
Boreen had a breakout senior season in 2021-22, finishing third in the nation and second in the Gophers with 59 points en route to being named All-WCHA Second Team and WCHA All-Tournament Team.
Gophers fire 20 players from last year’s squad, which won the WCHA regular season title and spent much of 2022 atop national polls before being upset in the NCAA quarterfinals .