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Wooger's WCHA Wisdom

10/26/2011, 1:01pm CDT
By Greg Anzelc

Minnesota Ranked #8

After winning 6-0 Friday, the Gophers lose the rematch Sunday. Alaska-Anchorage is on tap this weekend.

Another Weekend of Sweeps in WCHA Conference Games....

Results From Last  Weekend:
Bemidji swept Tech
Wisconsin swept UND
Denver swept Mankato
Nebraska-Omaha swept Alaska-Anchorage

Last weekend penalties hurt Minnesota, along with not playing well in their own end.

Minnesota looks to have some really good firepower up front and they have really attacked the net. This team looks like they really want to score and play with some intensity and grit. Eric Haula is tied for first in the nation in scoring with 5 goals and 14 points. Senior Jake Hansen is tied for third with 11 points. Both have at least one point in each game this season. Freshman Kyle Rau is tied for first in freshman scoring in the nation with 9 points and looks to be one of the few Gophers who could hit 20 goals in their freshman season. Minnesota has the #1 offense in the nation, averaging 5.83 goals per game. Their 36% power play also leads the nation. Rau has 4 power play goals. The Gophers are putting up some numbers, although they have been against one team that hadn’t yet played, and another team that looked like they hadn’t yet played. Sophomore Nate Schmidt, who scored his first career goal on Sunday against Vermont, leads all defensemen in the nation in scoring with nine points. While Schmidt is contributing, overall the defense isn’t going to be looked upon as a major contributor to the offense. The defense will need to shore things up some, and that will mean the forwards need to continue to contribute defensively.

 

Minnesota has won just once in the last 5 games against the Seawolves, including being swept last season at home in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. St. Cloud’s Bob Motzko just returned from a tournament in Anchorage and says this is the best Alaska Anchorage team that he’s seen in years. Although Anchorage lost four of its top eight scorers from a year ago, they have received early-season production from junior Mickey Spencer (5g-2a), who missed a large chunk of 2010-11 due to injury. Fellow junior Daniel Naslund (2g-5a) shares the team lead in points with Spencer and sophomore Quinn Sproule has the most points among the team’s defensemen with three (2g-1a). Goaltenders Chris Kamal and Rob Gunderson have split the team’s six games between the pipes. Kamal is 2-1-0 with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage, while Gunderson owns a 1-1-1 record and .909 save percentage while allowing 2.29 goals per 60 minutes. Gunderson’s lone victory came in the form of a 23-save shutout against UNO.

Minnesota has more depth, speed and more talent up front. They will need to play good in tight spaces as they will see more traffic in front of the Anchorage net than what they have seen in the past couple of weeks.

THE CALL: Split

The Gophers return home next week for a highly anticipated series with the Sioux!

On Tap This Weekend In The WCHA:

Denver at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET
Tech is playing well and drawing some fans. They swept Wisconsin who then went and swept UND. Denver has some high-end talent and if they get some goaltending they should sweep.
THE CALL: Denver Sweep

Bemidji State at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT
Bemidji always gives UMD trouble and if they can get goaltending they can win. UMD has some talented forwards and that should be the difference.
THE CALL: 3 points for UMD

Nebraska Omaha at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT
Wisconsin is a question mark, and Omaha has some good talent.
THE CALL: Split

St. Cloud State at North Dakota (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT
St. Cloud will face a hungry UND team who has a solid defensive core.
THE CALL: UND sweep

Non-Conference Matchups:
Colorado College at Rensselaer (NC), 7:00 pm ET

Minnesota vs. Alaska-Anchorage

Minnesota Alaska-Anchorage
Offense Advantage
Defense Advantage
Goaltending Advantage
Special Teams Advantage
Speed Advantage

A Typical WCHA Weekend Trip? Alaska is Anything But!

THURSDAY
7:45 Practice @ Mariucci
11:30 Flight to Anchorage
2:10 Arrive
6:00 Dinner
FRIDAY
9:15 Breakfast
10:00 Practice
12:30 Team Meeting
1:00 Pregame Meal
7:05 Game
10:00 Post -game meal
SATURDAY
10:00 Breakfast
Similar schedule to Friday
SUNDAY
3:30 AM Bus to airport
6:00 AM Flight
2:30 Arrival

Recent Gopher Freshmen With 10+ Goals

GOALS
Thomas Vanek 31
Jay Barriball 20
Kyle Okposo 19
Phil Kessel 18
Dannny Irmen 14
Gino Guyer 13

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