Gophers men’s hockey visits St. Louis Park

Gophers practice, skate with fans

Rachel Salzer

As a part of the program “Gophers Skate the Cities,” the Gopher men’s hockey team recently made a trip to St. Louis Park to skate at the ROC Jan. 7. During this event, the Gophers had an hour long practice for the fans to watch, followed by an open skate with the players. Players also were signing autographs for fans and handed out posters and player cards.

Gopher coach Bob Motzko said the best part about coming out and skating at the ROC is the change in scenery for practice and getting to be around younger kids.

“We are on break right now, and we haven’t been to school since like mid-December. The campus is quiet, so to just get out in the community an

d skate outdoors as a lot of these guys did when they were young,” Motzko said.

University of Minnesota junior, Tyler Nanne, who plays forward on the Gophers men’s hockey team, said it’s nice to skate outside and get the opportunity to play at a variety of different rinks.

“I think anytime you skate outdoors it’s awesome, but to be able to play at a lot of rinks throughout the years is definitely a treat,” Nanne said.

Motzko said the reason the Gophers participate in events like this is that fans are essential to the team. He said when they get the opportunity to go back to the communities that support them, they will take it.

“The history was built one, by good hockey players, but really by the fans that have made Gopher hockey so great,” Motzko said. “Any chance we c

an to get back inside the community, to give back, to say thanks — anything we can do to help support that — we got to do it.”

Spectator and fan Josie Dvorak enjoyed watching the Gopher practice and skating with them at the ROC because of their skating skills. She said she liked the interactions she had with the players.

“(I like) how fast they skate and how much effort they put into it,” Dvorak said. “(I also) like how they talk to you and they recognize you.”

University of Minnesota sophomore defense for the Gophers Sam Rossini said he enjoys meeting fans because he is able to acknowledge the people who support the Gophers and give younger fans a unique experience.

“It’s just good to connect with the people who come to our games and the little kids because we were all in that position when we were younger, so it’s good to give back,” Rossini said.

Otto Fishbeck, who watched the practice, said his favorite part was getting autographs from some of his favorite players.

“My favorite part was probably getting my shoe signed by Rem Pitlick,” Fishbeck said.

This was the final event as of now for “Gophers Skate the Cities.