Sat 10 Dec 2011
On a weekend where we all had expected this much improved Gopher hockey team to get 4 points, to come out with 2 from saturday nights victory is a little disappointing. The Gophers showed flashes of brilliance on friday night, but were for the most part inconsistent, and unfocused. Kent Patterson was his usual self, making some unbelievable saves on some very disheartening defensive lapses. 3 different times we saw Gopher pass attempts made to players that were heading off on line changes, something that must have drove Coach Lucia absolutely crazy. In the end the Gophers went down 3-2 in OT getting goals from defensemen Mark Alt and Seth Helgeson. After a barrage of scoring chances and a game tying goal from Helgeson in the 3rd period, Tech’s Brett Olson dismissed the fans hopes of an OT win just :33 seconds into the OT on a beautiful charge to the net.
Minnesota would come out on night 2 like the team that is 8-0-1 on saturdays this year. A whole different gear, if you will. The first set of shifts set the tone, as 4th liners: Joe Miller, Christian Isackson, and Nico Sachetti (none of whom suited up friday night) set the tone early as the U was on the attack. Kyle Rau would get his 12th goal of the season (leads the country in freshman goal scoring) on a nice little play set up by Mark Alt. Michigan Tech would answer, Jordan Baker’s goal at 16:35 of the first period, stole some thunder from what was an otherwise Gopher dominated 1st period.
As UMD completed its sweep of Wisconsin, the Gophers put their best feet forward and finished this all important game prior to a layoff before the holiday tourney’s. Jake Hansen added a PP goal tipping in a beautiful shot by Eric Haula. In the 3rd period the Goph’s would pour it on getting 3 unanswered goals to put this game away. Mark Alt got his 2nd goal of the weekend, Nick Bjugstad got his 16th and senior Joe Miller from Wayzata got his 1st of the year.
Things got ugly late as Minnesota’s Kyle Rau took a stick to the head late in the 3rd. This led the Gophers into a 5 on 3 situation, and Jake Hansen would get his 2nd goal of the night giving the Gophers a 6-2 lead. And then it got uglier, as Seth Helgeson and Carl Nielsen began what would take about ten minutes to settle down, both benches were exchanging unpleasantries, old school WCHA hockey, gotta love it….
I’m sure Minnesota would love to have friday night back, but it should be noted they had 34 shots on goal and 40 on saturday. They played far more consistently and with great focus, a very good way to head into winter break and the Holiday tourney. With the win the Gophers stayed on pace with the Bulldogs of UMD and remain tied for 1st in the WCHA.
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