The Minnesota men’s hockey team announced the eight team awards given annually from the 2023-24 campaign.

John Mariucci MVP Award – Jaxon Nelson
Heralded as the “Godfather of Minnesota Hockey,” John Mariucci (Eveleth, Minn.) was a two-sport athlete (hockey and football) at the University of Minnesota before returning to his alma mater as head coach of Gopher Hockey from 1952-1955 and 1956-66 (taking one year off to lead the U.S. Olympic Team to a silver medal in 1956). As a player, Mariucci was a First Team All-American and team captain for Gopher Hockey in 1940, leading the Maroon & Gold to the 1940 National AAU Tournament title with a perfect 18-0-0 record. Mariucci also helped the Gopher football program win a national title in 1940. Following college, Mariucci played in 223 career NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks. Mariucci, who passed away in 1987, was inducted into the inaugural class of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973 and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1985.

Nelson put together his best year for the Maroon and Gold during his final season in Dinkytown, including a nod on the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Team. The graduate student served as a co-captain and played in all 39 games, finishing the year with career highs in goals (19) and points (31), while reaching double-digit assists (12) for the third time. He tallied his first and only hat trick as a Gopher to open the final regular season series with No. 16 Michigan and scored three of the team’s six total goals at the NCAA Sioux Falls Regional, including the game winner over Omaha.

Mike Crupi Most Determined Player Award – Oliver Moore
Mike Crupi (St. Paul, Minn.) helped St. Paul Johnson win the 1963 Minnesota State High School Tournament before lettering twice for the Gophers in 1966 and 1967. The forward recorded 44 points (23 goals, 21 assists) and 128 penalty minutes in 54 career games. His 27 penalty minutes against Michigan on Jan. 13, 1967, remains the program’s single-game record for penalty minutes. Crupi passed away as a result of an automobile accident at the age of 22 in 1969 while playing professional hockey.

Moore landed on the B1G All-Freshman Team after posting 33 points in 39 games during his first season of college hockey, ranking fourth offensively for Minnesota and 17th in rookie scoring in the NCAA. He put up a team-best 21 points in 21 games when the calendar flipped to 2024, aided by 15 points in a career-long, eight-game point streak from Jan. 8 to Feb. 2, the longest streak from a Gopher all year. Moore recorded nine outings with multiple points, including a career-high three assists on opening night versus the Tommies and a pair of multi-goal games against Michigan State and Michigan.

Frank Pond Rookie of the Year Award – Sam Rinzel
Frank Pond (Two Harbors, Minn.) served as the third captain of Pride on Ice during the 1923-24 season and led Minnesota to a 13-1-0 record as conference champions. Pond later became the program’s head coach for five seasons from 1930-1935 and led the Maroon and Gold to a 46-24-4 record behind the bench. Pond passed away in 1993.

Rinzel was a playmaking catalyst from his spot along the blue line and led the team with 26 assists, which ranked second in the NCAA among freshmen defensemen, and a plus-23 rating this season. He burst onto the scene for the Maroon and Gold with a multi-assist effort in his collegiate debut versus St. Thomas and closed the year with seven multi-point performances to earn All-Big Ten Second Team and B1G All-Freshman Team honors. He skated in all 39 games for the Gophers and tallied a season-long point streak of five games from Jan. 8-20, totaling 12 assists with three outings of a career-best three assists in that span.

Elwin “Doc” Romnes Leadership & Sportsmanship Award – Mason Nevers
Elwin “Doc” Romnes (White Bear Lake, Minn.) coached the Maroon & Gold for five seasons between 1947 and 1952 following a successful playing career at St. Thomas that led to Romnes being one of only two Americans in the NHL in 1927. He played in the Stanley Cup Final on four different occasions in his career, winning the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1934 and 1938. In 403 career NHL games, Romnes served just 46 penalty minutes and earned the Lady Byng Trophy in 1936. Romnes passed away in 1984.

Nevers served as an alternate captain for Minnesota during his senior season and returned from injury to play in the final 35 games, providing the team a vital leader in the locker room and on the ice. He reached double-digit scoring for the third-straight year, finishing with 15 points on three goals and 12 assists to go with a career-high, plus-16 rating. He did the bulk of his offensive production in conference action as he posted 12 points in 24 Big Ten appearances. Nevers also was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team for the third time in his Maroon and Gold career.

Dr. V. George Nagobads Unsung Hero Award – Carl Fish
Dr. V. George Nagobads (Riga, Latvia) remains one of the greatest influencers of American hockey of his time. Nagobads served as Gopher Hockey’s team physician from 1958 until his retirement in 1992 – helping Minnesota to the program’s first three national titles in 1974, 1976 and 1979. In 1978, Herb Brooks took the trophy Nagobads donated to the program and established the annual Dr. V. George Nagobads Unsung Hero Award. His largest contributions to hockey in the United States may have come on the international stage, however. Nagobads was named the team physician for five U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Teams (1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988); including the “Miracle on Ice” squad that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid and the silver medal-winning 1972 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team that competed in Sapporo. Nagobads was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team in 2003 and later honored individually by the organization in 2010.

Fish showed his ultra-competitive nature in helping the Gophers to another 20-plus-win campaign and played all but one game as a senior. He closed the year with three points, all of which were assists, including a multi-point outing in a home win over Penn State to begin the Big Ten Conference Tournament. That night he was a career-best, plus-4 and ended the quarterfinal series sweep with a plus-6 rating. Fish earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award as well as landing on the Academic All-Big Ten Team this season as he provided a veteran presence to the team’s young group along the blue line.

John Mayasich Outstanding Student-Athlete Award – Nathan Airey
John Mayasich (Eveleth, Minn.) remains the icon of Gopher Hockey decades after lacing his skates up for the final time. A four-time All-American, Mayasich still holds school records with 298 points and 144 goals in 111 career games while his 154 assists rank second in program history. A team captain for the Maroon and Gold during the 1954-55 season, Mayasich’s No. 8 jersey is the only retired number in Gopher Hockey history. Prior to joining the Gophers, Mayasich helped Eveleth High School win four-straight state titles from 1948-51. Following his college career, Mayasich won a silver medal at the 1956 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo before adding a gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley. Mayasich was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.

Airey totaled three appearances during his first year at Minnesota and tallied a 1-1-0 record. The freshman picked up a victory in his Gopher debut at home against Robert Morris and made a season-high 19 saves in the win. He also registered double-digit saves in relief appearances during Big Ten Conference play at Notre Dame and against Michigan. Airey plans to remain on campus for summer classes and will major in Agriculture and Food Business Management through the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Donald M. Clark Community Service Award – Aaron Huglen
Donald M. Clark (Kensal, N.D.) may not have played for Gopher Hockey, but his contributions to the sport of hockey have made lasting impressions on the program even following his death in 1999. A 1941 graduate of the University of Minnesota, Clark helped found the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association in 1947 and later served as vice president of the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States and served for many years as a member of the U.S. Olympic Hockey committee. Clark was honored by the NHL with the Lester Patrick Award in 1975 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Huglen closed the season with a point in eight of the final 11 outings on his way to a career high in goals and points with 13 and 21, respectively. He tied for second on the team behind four game-winning goals, all four of which came in a 13-game span from Jan. 20 to Mar. 9. Huglen landed the first B1G Star of the Week honor of his tenure after three points during a home sweep of Penn State in February. He remains an active part of the local community via outreach programs through his church.

Tom Mohr Playoff MVP Award – Jaxon Nelson
Tom Mohr (Hopkins, Minn.) appeared in just 12 career games as a goalie for the Gophers with an 8-3-1 record, but his final appearance will never be forgotten. In the 1976 NCAA title game, Minnesota fell behind Michigan Tech 3-1 after the first period, causing Coach Herb Brooks to send in Mohr for a relief appearance. Mohr stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced as Minnesota rallied for a 6-4 victory to earn the program’s second national championship.

Nelson put the Gophers on his back during the postseason and as he saved some of his best hockey for the end of his collegiate career. He scored 11 of his career-best 19 goals over the last eight games of the season, including four multi-goal performances, while he also had 13 points and was a plus-11 in that stretch. He was selected to the NCAA Sioux Falls Regional All-Tournament Team after scoring three times on the national stage, including a two-goal effort on his birthday in a regional win over Omaha. Nelson did everything for the team late in the year, showcased by blocking a career-high eight shots in a quarterfinal win over Penn State, while winning double-digit faceoffs in seven of the final eight outings.

(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)

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