In a place where ice is thicker than blood, the University of Minnesota’s hockey legacy extends beyond the rink.
It’s a program that’s spawned 36 All-Americans, 11 NHL first-round draft picks and four Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners. And once you enter the Golden Gophers’ men’s hockey facility, you won’t forget it.
“This weight room has trained All-Americans, Hobey Baker award winners, National, World and Olympic Champions. Do not disgrace their efforts with anything less than 100%,” reads the writing the wall—a reminder to all Minnesota athletes of what has gone before and what lies ahead.
Built in 1993, Mariucci Arena, named in honor of former Golden Gopher hockey player and coach, John Mariucci, includes a top-notch training facility, featuring bike, treadmill and shooting stations. Minnesota is one of only four schools in the country with a state-of-the-art skating treadmill, which is used in conjunction with a scientific device to study skating technique.
“For the longest time, NASA and the University of Minnesota were the only two places on the continent [to have the device],” says strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz. “They studied microgravity; we studied skating on ice and skating on a treadmill.”
This unique technology, together with the program’s dedicated skating coach, has propelled the Gophers’ overall training to elite status. “We see the benefits to our athletes in their skating ability and everything else they do on the ice,” Dietz says.
Tradition and excellence define the Gophers’ program, which has produced 31 NCAA tournament appearances, five NCAA titles and eight straight seasons of 20-plus wins. Yet, one of their proudest features isn’t found on the ice, but rather around it.
The 10,000-seat arena is one of the most prestigious hockey venues in the country, featuring an Olympic sized 200 x 100 sheet of ice, and hosting a sellout crowd at every home game.
“The electric atmosphere around here is pretty amazing for college hockey,” Dietz says. “We’re very fortunate that we have such a loyal fan base in Minnesota.”