Vanek will play in World Championships

Aaron Blake

Minnesota men’s hockey forward Thomas Vanek will represent his native Austria in the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in the Czech Republic beginning Saturday.

The sophomore from Graz, Austria, will play against Canada, Switzerland and France in group play between Saturday and Wednesday, and potentially until competition concludes May 9.

Vanek already played for Austria in the World Junior Championships in Finland earlier this year. He led the team in goals with three in six games.

Last year, he led the same team with nine goals in Pool B competition. Austria’s 5-0-0 record last year advanced it to Pool A competition this year, when it went 0-5-2.

Vanek led the Gophers with 51 points last season, including 26 goals and 25 assists in 38 games. He was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association All-America West second team two weeks ago.

Vanek turned down a chance to play in last year’s world championships in Finland.

Athletics ranked sixth

Minnesota’s intercollegiate athletics program moved up to sixth place in the Director’s Cup rankings after the winter sports season.

The Director’s Cup standings, which are released by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, measure each institution’s overall score according to the school’s finish in up to 20 sports.

Largely thanks to the 100 points the women’s hockey team earned by winning an NCAA title and a Final Four run by the women’s basketball team, Gophers athletics are now at 557 points for the academic year. They jumped up from 27th place after the fall season.

Minnesota placed 11th for the 2002-03 school year with 845 points. The Gophers’ best-ever finish came the year before, when they finished in seventh place with 866.5 points.

Michigan leads the standings with 950 points, and fellow Big Ten schools Penn State and Ohio State join the Wolverines in the top four. Wisconsin is currently in seventh place with 548.75 points.

– Aaron Blake, Staff Reporter