The playoff beard

Gophers men’s hockey players follow the tradition of growing beards during the postseason.

Dane Mizutani

It all started about a month ago in the opening round of the WCHA playoffs against Alaska-Anchorage.

The Gophers took the ice and flaunted their newly bleached-blonde hair in front of an announced crowd of 9,410.

In that same moment, a more common but less noticeable playoff tradition also started.

It has morphed into a signature look for the Gophers: bleached-blonde hair with an unruly beard to match.

The 1980 New York Islanders are widely thought to have started the playoff beard tradition, but the actual origin is unclear.

Nonetheless, the idea to lock up the razor and shaving cream once the playoffs begin is still relevant. Many Gophers players have grown lengthy beards since the Anchorage series, but there’s a consensus that senior Nico Sacchetti has the best beard on the team.

Sacchetti said this is the longest his beard has ever been, but he doesn’t mind the length or the look.

“That’s kind of the whole point — the longer you go, the uglier you look,” Sacchetti said. “If you look pretty ugly by the end, it means you made it pretty far in the playoffs.”

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad has been growing his playoff beard for 19 years but has nothing to show for it.

Bjugstad, the team’s leading goal-scorer, has never shaved in his life.

“I have this little trimmer I use, but I’ve never actually taken a razor and used shaving cream,” Bjugstad said.

“I’d rather not have to shave, but right about now I’d probably like to have [a beard] because of the tradition.”

Players also mentioned Taylor Matson while discussing the best beard on the team, who is a clear second to Sacchetti.

“It’s fun to have something going with the guys,” Matson said. “Especially with our dyed hair, it’s been something that has brought the team together.”

Minnesota leaves Tuesday afternoon for the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., where it will look to keep the beard growing and tradition going through the weekend.