MINNEAPOLIS – As if Justen Close leading the Minnesota Gophers onto the ice for their game with Alaska on Friday night wasn’t an odd enough sight, a second goalie with orange pads and a last name that stretched from armpit to armpit on the back of his sweater soon followed.

Less than two hours before meeting the Nanooks at 3M Arena at Mariucci, the Gophers announced the official addition of freshman goalie Owen Bartoszkiewicz to their roster. With backup goalie Brennan Boynton scratched due to an illness, Bartoszkiewicz warmed up with the team and spent the game on the bench, ready to go if needed.

Bartoszkiewicz, who is 18 and from the Detroit suburb of Northville, Mich., played in 12 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL (hence the orange pads) this season, putting up a 3-6-2 record, a .889 saves percentage and a 3.32 goals-against average. Originally slated to start college in the fall of 2022, the Gophers accelerated his timeline by roughly eight months when Jack LaFontaine signed a pro contract and left the program on Sunday.

Last season, Bartoszkiewicz skated for Wichita Falls in the NAHL and was one of the top goalies in that league. He committed to the Gophers over the summer. If he plays in a game this season, that will count toward his four years of college eligibility, meaning he would start the 2022-23 season as a sophomore.

“When Minnesota called I jumped all over it,” Bartoszkiewicz told The Rink Live in July 2021 shortly after announcing his commitment. He hopes to major in aerospace and mechanical engineering. “I went and visited with (assistant) coach (Garrett) Raboin and it was really good to see the gym and the rink, to picture myself going there and working hard and enjoying it.”

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He is wearing jersey number 31 with the Gophers.

U of M announces temporary COVID protocol

If you’re headed to 3M Arena at Mariucci, Ridder Arena or any U of M venue, soon you will need proof that you are fighting the COVID-19 virus and winning.

On Friday the school announced that between Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, it will require attendees at indoor events with 200 or more spectators to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative, third-party COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. The announcement noted that this policy may be extended, and Gophers athletics will work with campus leadership to determine if an extension is needed.

The COVID-19 vaccine requirement applies to all attendees age five and older. Minnesota's indoor mask / face covering mandate also remains in effect for all home athletic indoor events. The Gophers men have a home series versus Michigan State on Feb. 4-5 that would fall in this window. The first scheduled event with the policy in effect will be Minnesota's home men's basketball game against Ohio State on Jan. 27.

On-site COVID testing will not be available at Minnesota athletic events.