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Woog's Wisdom!

10/18/2011, 3:22pm CDT
By Greg Anzelc

Woog's Wisdom - Weekly WCHA Hits & Highlights

A weekend sweep of UMD has the Gopher Hockey fans buzzing!

Woog's Wisdom For The Week of October 17

Sweeping Through Opening Weekend
Last weekend was certainly an action packed weekend of WCHA hockey that saw all three series end in sweeps. Minnesota left Duluth on 35 W South with four points in hand and are off to their first 4-0 start (2-0 WCHA) since 2001-02. This was Minnesota’s first sweep of UMD since 2006. Meanwhile in other WCHA action, Michigan Tech was perhaps the surprise of the weekend as they swept Wisconsin in two overtime games. Michigan Tech is 4-0-0 for the first time since its national championship season of 1974-75. In the only other conference matchup, CC swept Bemidji State.

 

Both Friday and Saturday night Kent Patterson had 46 saves after facing 50 shots. Although the Gophers got two wins, the number of shots has to be a concern for Minnesota, who mustered only 16 shots on Saturday after firing 44 on Friday. Friday night Eric Haula and Nate Condon both had two goals, along with Kyle Rau who added his first of the season, and earned WCHA Rookie of the Week honors for his three weekend goals. Condon was the hero after scoring the overtime winner.

 

Saturday night we saw a highlight reel goal from Nick Bjugstad sandwiched between first period goals from Condon and Hansen and the third period goals from Rau, and Condon’s fourth of the weekend. 

 

You have to like the way Minnesota showed some resolve this weekend, battling back to tie the game with less than a minute to play, and then scoring as time was running out in overtime. Saturday they came back from a 2-0 deficit mid-way through the first period.  

 

Friday night Minnesota dominated the first ten minutes of the game, which was their game plan going in. As the period went on however, and into the second and third periods, UMD dominated puck possession and the shots on goal. Minnesota had their power play working, but UMD dominated in most areas. Minnesota had two key ingredients for opening night which was good goaltending and good special teams, and were opportunistic at the end. The win Friday gave the Gophers all the incentive, confidence and momentum to come back and play hard on Saturday.

 

Saturday night Minnesota again played with grit, got more good goaltending and good special teams. UMD took a lot of opportunities from turnovers and intercepting forced passes because of the moving trap that UMD was playing. Even though Minnesota gave up the same number of shots on Saturday night the defense in their own zone was better as they really contested the Bulldogs on the rebounds.

 

Overall the Gophers have enough talent and variety to really have good special teams this season. The young talent is fast and strong; Rau in particular played very well, he is very fast tough, patient and was still energetic and the end of the game Saturday night. Taylor Matson played well all weekend and Eric Haula had a good game on Saturday night. Travis Boyd was good in the middle, as was Matson, Haula and Bjugstad.

 

The area that needs the most work is playing without the puck in the defensive zone. The defense and forwards need to be more committed in their own end. But at the end of the weekend, when experience isn’t in your corner, to leave UMD with four points is a success. Not only are they four big points, but since these teams only see each other once, this will be a good tie breaker in Minnesota’s favor when the log jam occurs later in the season in the standings. The leaders and guys that were expected to step up did, and there is room for the younger guys to really contribute. 

 

There is a feeling right now in the hockey community that there is a reason to be excited about this team and the program right now!

 
Top player, by position last weekend:

Goalie: Patterson

Defensive defenseman: Mark Alt
Offensive defenseman: Nate Schmidt, running the 6 for 9 power play.

Offense: Haula, Bjugstad, Rau and Condon were the top forwards and Hansen was the top defensive forward, blocking 2 key power play shots by the Bulldogs.

  

Looking ahead to this weekend against Vermont, the Catamounts are coming off a 2-1 loss to the U.S. Under 18 Team. Vermont is the lone team from Hockey East that Minnesota has never played, but the Gophers are 80-47-7 all-time against Hockey East opponents. This team won 22 games a few seasons ago and that was their recent high water mark. Last season they won six games in Hockey East. They will play U Mass. In the Winter Classic at Fenway Park this season. Game times are 6 pm Friday and 1 pm on Sunday. The Sunday game is due to homecoming festivities and the football game on Saturday.

Vermont returns four of its top five scorers for the 2011-12 campaign, including its top two scorers from last year in juniors Sebastian Stalberg and Chris McCarthy. Stalberg paced the Catamounts with nine goals and 19 assists for a team-high 28 points, while

McCarthy played in all 36 games and ranked second on the team in scoring with 20 points. Connor Brickley is the second highest NHL draft pick in program history, selected 50th overall in the second round of the 2010 draft by Florida. He had four goals

and nine assists last year as a freshman.

 

On the blueline, senior Drew MacKenzie and sophomore Nick Bruneteau represent two of the most dangerous offensive defensemen in Hockey East. Both ranked top-15 in scoring among league defensemen last year, and Bruneteau finished the year with the fourth-most points of any rookie defenseman in the conference. Between the pipes, starting goaltender Rob Madore returns for his senior season after posting a 2.98 goals against average and a .907 save percentage last year. Madore was named the team's MVP.

 


THE CALL: MINNESOTA SWEEP

Games for Friday, October 21:

Minnesota Duluth at Providence (NC), 7:00 pm ET;

Vermont at Minnesota (NC), 6:07 pm CT;

North Dakota at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT;

Alaska Anchorage at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT;

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT;

New Hampshire at St. Cloud State (NC), 7:37 pm CT;

Minnesota State at Denver (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT.

 

Games for Saturday, October 22:

Minnesota Duluth at Providence (NC), 7:00 pm ET;

Alaska Anchorage at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT;

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT;

North Dakota at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT;

New Hampshire at St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT;

Minnesota State at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT.

 

Games for Sunday, October 23: Vermont at Minnesota (NC), 1:07 pm CT

 

THE CALL:

Alaska Anchorage at Nebraska Omaha

SPLIT

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State 
SPLIT


North Dakota at Wisconsin
SIOUX SWEEP

 

Minnesota State at Denver
DENVER SWEEP

Gophers vs. Vermont

MINNESOTA VERMONT
Offense Advantage
Defense Even Even
Speed Even Even
Special Teams Advantage
Goaltending Even Even

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