Thursday night kicks off another weekend in the crease for Kindersley's Justen Close at the University of Minnesota, and he will look to stay red-hot between the pipes after claiming the Big Ten Conference's First Star of the Week award.
The former Kindersley Jr. Klippers goaltender returned to the Golden Gophers for another year as a graduate student after his senior season, and has two shutouts in the Gophers four games played so-far this season. Following up a 3-0 win over St. Thomas on October 14, Close kept the streak going through last Friday with a 4-0 win in the series opener against fellow-top ranked program North Dakota.
Close stopped all 25 shots in the Friday shutout, and 57/59 shots in total over the weekend for a .966 SV%. A perfect penalty kill for the Golden Gophers also helped their goalie claim the award. North Dakota went scoreless across ten powerplays, and Close was a big reason why.
The early season award was Close's first of the year, and sixth total including three previous First Star selections.
After splitting their two games with North Dakota, the Golden Gophers enter the weekend with a 3-1 record. Close and the Gophers will now aim for another strong weekend starting with Thursday's game against the rival Wisconsin Badgers.