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Isles Prospects Go-pher Big Ten Title

Two Isles prospects - and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers - get set for the Big-Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 4:11 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Isles Prospects Go-pher Big Ten Title

With three native Minnesotans on the Islanders roster in Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Kyle Okposo, the State of Hockey is well-represented on Long Island. When the Xcel Energy Center in Minnapolis, MN hosts the inaugural Big Ten Tournament this week, the Islanders will be well-represented, as prospects Jake Bischoff and Taylor Cammarata look to continue the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers winning tradition. The tournament began Thursday afternoon, but Minnesota has a first round-bye and will meet Ohio State on Friday night at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. Eastern Time).

Islanders’ fans will have a keen eye on Cammarata and Bischoff, two freshmen selected by the Islanders in the 2013 draft. Cammarata showed some of the offensive explosiveness that made him a third-round pick scoring 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 34 games for the Gophers and finishing eighth in team scoring.

“I’m getting more accustomed to the college game,” he said. “Everybody is stronger and it’s a more defensive game. So I am just trying to get used to that… The most important thing is to move quickly and get open.”

Cammarata contributed on a consistent basis by playing on the second line and earning some power-play minutes.

Bischoff, a defenseman, had three goals and four assists in his rookie campaign, but finished with a plus-15 rating, good for sixth on the team.

“Offensively and defensively, Jake has been solid,” Cammarata said. “He’s been one of the top freshman defenseman, so he’s done well.”

The Gophers enter the tournament as the nation’s top team, boasting a 25-5-6 record. They are assured a spot in the NCAA tournament beginning next week, but are looking to add a Big-Ten playoff title to their achievements this season. They’ve already claimed their third straight regular-season title (winning this year’s Big-Ten and the two Western Collegiate Hockey Association titles before that).

Minnesota’s success can be attributed to their tight defensive play, as they’ve allowed the fewest goals in the country. Goaltender Adam Wilcox is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and was named Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year. Wilcox is nearly unbeatable when on his game, with a 1.91 goals against average and a .934 save percentage this season – both ranked third in the country. The Gophers goaltender is also up for the Mike Richter Award for college hockey’s top goaltender.

The Gophers’ top scorer, Kyle Rau, has 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games – but Minnesota has gotten contributions from up and down the lineup. Nine players on Minnesota’s roster have 20 or more points, with another five scoring at least 10.

“We’ve had scoring from almost everybody on the team,” Cammarata said. “The wealth is spread around.”

Big Ten Tournament Schedule:

Quarterfinals:
#3 Michigan vs. #6 Penn State | Thurs., March 20 | 2 p.m.

#4 Ohio State vs. #5 Michigan State | Thurs., March 20 | 7 p.m.

Semifinals:
#2 Wisconsin vs. Michigan/Penn State | Friday, March 21 | 2 p.m.

#1 Minnesota vs. Ohio State/Michigan State | Friday, March 21 | 7 p.m.

Championship:
Semifinal Winners | Saturday, March 22 | 7 p.m.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 18 19 -6 37
K. Okposo 48 12 25 -9 37
B. Nelson 50 20 11 0 31
F. Nielsen 50 15 16 -2 31
M. Grabovski 50 9 15 1 24
J. Bailey 49 8 15 4 23
A. Lee 50 7 14 0 21
N. Leddy 50 3 17 -12 20
R. Strome 39 5 13 -8 18
N. Kulemin 50 5 9 6 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 13 6 2 .927 2.32
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