Gophers LB Celestin’s stock rising after ‘magical’ pick 6
FOX Sports North
Jonathan Celestin, Gophers linebacker (↑ UP)
Late in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's win over Illinois on Saturday, the senior linebacker crept into a passing lane and picked off quarterback Cam Thomas at the 30-yard line. Celestin followed a group of blockers into the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown and immediately pointed up to the sky to honor his father, who passed away in April. The pick-six, which head coach P.J. Fleck coined “something spiritual, something of a higher power,” clinched the 24-17 win over Illinois, good for Fleck’s first Big Ten win since taking over the Minnesota sideline. Celestin has been outstanding all year for the 4-3 Gophers. He ranks second in total tackles (52) with 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Justin Kloos, Wild forward (↑ UP)
The latest Minnesota native to take the ice for the Wild, Kloos made his NHL debut Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Although he was sent back to Iowa on Wednesday, this won't be Kloos' only appearance in prime time at Xcel Energy Center. Kloos spent four seasons with the Gophers and hails from nearby Lakeville, where he led Lakeville South High School to the state tournament as a senior.
Zach Parise, Wild forward (↓ DOWN)
Parise underwent a microdiskectomy Tuesday to repair a herniated disk, an injury that has kept the Wild forward off the ice all season. The Wild hope to have Parise skating again in six weeks, but the veteran winger is expected to remain out of the lineup for at least eight weeks. Now 33, Parise is in the sixth-year deal of a 13-year, $98 million contract.
Latavius Murray, Vikings running back (↑ UP)
The Vikings are finally giving Murray the opportunity to make good on that three-year, $15 million contract. He torched the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He averaged 6.28 yards per tote, the best single-game rate of his career when given at least 10 carries.
The Gophers' special teams units (↓ DOWN)
After edging No. 4 North Dakota 2-1 on Friday in their first game at Ralph Engelstad Arena since 2012, the Gophers were undone by a single penalty in the follow-up. The Fighting Hawks scored three times after defenseman Jack Glover was slapped with a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind late in the second period. The Gophers have now allowed 10 goals on 33 penalty kills this season and converted on just three of their 31 power play chances. Both figures -- 9.7 percent on the power play, and 69.7 percent on penalty kills -- rank 49th in the nation.
Andrew Wiggins, Wolves forward (↑ UP)
Wiggins may have delivered the play of the season in the Wolves' third game. He pulled up just past the logo in Oklahoma City with just over a second remaining, launching a game-winning three-pointer that lifted the Wolves to a 115-113 victory over the Thunder. It was the 16th buzzer-beater in franchise history, and the 19th time the Wolves have been involved -- one way or the other -- in such a scenario since the beginning of last season.