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Woog's Wisdom: WCHA Hits and Highlights

11/10/2011, 8:27am CST
By Greg Anzelc

No. 1 Gophers Head to Madison

No. 1 Gophers Head to Madison

Last weekend Minnesota looked good against the Sioux. They started out about even in the first period Friday night, but from then on pulled away, and kept pulling away. Minnesota has a deeper team than UND and it really showed as the weekend went on. The Sioux are short their traditional firepower and with Minnesota forcing them with their speed, it eventually tired out their key players such as Danny Kristo. These were 4 big points for Minnesota as they have created some separation between themselves and the rest of the pack. It’s only early November, but 12 points to UND’s 2 in the league right now creates a big mountain for UND to climb the rest of the season.

This weekend Minnesota heads to Wisconsin who is 3-4-1 in the WCHA. The Badgers got beat 7-2 last Friday by St. Cloud and then rallied for a 3-3 tie on Saturday night. This Wisconsin team is playing in front of two freshmen goaltenders (Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson) and early in the season are already banged up a bit and dealing with some injuries.  Couple that with players that have left early for professional contracts, including Craig Smith who left mid-summer to sign with Nashville, and it seems the team is down a bit this season, and have been left to rely on third and fourth line player to step up and perform on the first two lines. Currently three Badgers – junior defenseman Justin Schultz (4g,10a), sophomore forward Mark Zengerle (4g, 9a) and sophomore forward Tyler Barnes (5g, 6a) – boast nine-game point-scoring streaks. Schultz is a great player and one to keep an eye on this weekend.

 

The No. 1-ranked Gophers are playing really well right now and virtually every aspect of their game seems to be clicking. Between the pipes Kent Patterson is now tied with Robb Stauber with five shutouts in a season, which is the most in program history . Patterson has a 1.60 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Defensively, Minnesota has allowed only 16 goals (10 at even-strength and six on the power-play) in 10 games this year. Offensively, The Gophers have outscored their opponents 48-16 this season. The Gophers have the top-ranked offense in the nation as they are averaging 4.80 goals-per game and their defense is the third-best in the country allowing only 1.60 goals-per-game. Erik Haula continues to lead  the nation in scoring with 7 goals and 17 points.

 

This weekend look for Minnesota to continue their winnings ways. The offense is tops in the nation and overall the Gophers have more grit, size and speed. When you add all of this up along with playing against a freshman goaltender, the maroon and gold should be able to find the back of the net.

 

THE CALL: Minnesota sweep

Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota Duluth

These are important points for UMD as they can't let Minnesota get too far out in front of them. Alaska has a team that can score, look for them to earn at least a tie this weekend.

THE CALL: 3 points for UMD

St. Cloud State at Minnesota State

St. Cloud has some injuries but should be able to earn a sweep against a weaker Mankato team.

THE CALL: St. Cloud State sweep

Nebraska-Omaha at Bemidji State

Omaha is sort of up and down, and Bemidji has some good players.This should be a good series.

THE CALL: Split

Game On Gophs

Goaltending 1.6 GPG/.946 GAA
Defense Allowed only 16 G in 10 GA
Offense Outscored opponents 48-16
#1 in nation, 4.8 GPG

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