MINNEAPOLIS — While we still don’t know what the coming college hockey season might look like, with the coronavirus pandemic still affecting sports and life as we know it, the Minnesota Gophers plans to mark a century of on-ice action are very much intact.
Gophers men's hockey officially began on a down note, with a 2-1 loss to Hamline on Jan. 17, 1922. Despite that setback, the Gophers would finish the 1921-22 season with a 6-3-1 record. When the 2020-21 season commences in whatever form it will take, it will be the 100th in the program’s history, and they are planning a season-long celebration to mark the first century of hockey at the U of M.
"The 100th season of Gopher hockey will celebrate everyone who shares a passion for Pride on Ice whether that's our current team, former players and staff, life-long fans or new fans," said McKenzie Lee, the U of M athletic department's assistant director for marketing, in a statement released by the school. "It's going to be an exciting season for everyone to salute the first century of Gopher hockey and look ahead to the program's bright future under coach (Bob) Motzko.
"We've got a lot of great initiatives planned to celebrate this historic season, and we can't wait to share even more plans as we get closer to puck drop."
On Wednesday, the school announced a number of plans to commemorate the great games, teams and coaches in the program’s previous 99 years. It will all start this week with a countdown celebrating 100 communities that have helped shape Gophers hockey.
The program has produced five national title teams and a sixth that went undefeated in 1940 and won the Amateur Athletic Union national tournament (prior to the start of official NCAA hockey later in that decade).
The program will also select and honor the 100 best players and coaches in Gopher hockey history. The 100 individuals will be selected by fan voting and will be released throughout the season.
At some point in the coming months, they will reveal commemorative throwback uniforms which will be worn for some games next season. The aim is to replicate the design of the 1960s, when Gophers legends like Lou Nanne and Doug Woog played for the U of M. For all of their games, the Gophers’ jerseys will bear a 100th season patch, which was revealed on Wednesday and features five stars to mark the program's quintet of NCAA titles.
The program also intends to continue its popular Rink Roots initiative during the hockey season, in which Gophers players drop in unannounced at youth hockey practices in the players’ home rink. Fans can submit a Rink Roots request at the Gophers hockey official website. The announcement of the 100th season celebration included a video with some highlights from the past.