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Ho, Ho, Ho, It's Woog's Wisdom!

12/13/2011, 10:40am CST
By Greg Anzelc

First Half WCHA Hits and Highlights

Ho Ho Ho, Woog's Wisdom Is Here!

Happy Holidays to all the hockey fans out there, even the Sioux fans! Well, on second thought, not all Sioux fans, but certainly to all Gopher Hockey fans!

 

The 14-5-1 Minnesota Golden Gophers just finished a stretch where they played 20 games in 10 straight weeks, but they are now off until they host Niagara, Northeastern and Princeton in the Mariucci Classic on Dec. 30-31. Two of Minnesota’s leading scorers could miss the Mariucci Classic; sophomore Nick Bjugstad (leads the team with 27 points) and freshman Kyle Rau (third with 22 points) have both been named to the preliminary roster for the 2012 U.S. National Junior Team.

Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation behind UMD, the Gophers are off to a 14-5-1 start with an 11-3-0 conference record. Minnesota is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

 

The Gophers next  WCHA series takes them to North Dakota in mid-January.
 

Not many people would have put Minnesota in first place at the start of the season but here they are, atop the WCHA and ranked #2 in the nation.

The keys to the good first half starts with the leadership of the players and the coaches. Taylor Matson is an ideal captain for this team and has been a good leader on and off of the ice.

This year the guys who were expected to step up have, and guys have really improved.

 

Offensive MVP so far this season: Nick Bjugstad

Best two way player: Taylor Matson   

Impact personality: Mike Guentzel has changed the attitude and demanded good attacks and forecheck.
Most physically consistent: Tom Serratore
Most improved  offensive  defenseman: Nate Schmidt
Most improved defenseman:  Mark Alt
Most improved sophomore forward: Erik Haula
Most consistently physical defenseman: Seth Helgeson

Holiday Hockey Action
The South St. Paul Classic sponsored by Old Orchard Juices is a good girls tourney with some of the top teams in the state including South St. Paul, Hill Murray, Minnetonka, Jefferson, Roseville, Hibbing, Warroad and Blake.

 

Mariucci Classic

These games are not televised. Look for Northeastern in the finals against Minnesota. Niagara and Princeton are the other two teams in town for the holiday games.

 

World Junior Championships
Some of the best hockey of the season takes place in this tournament that is followed extensively all over the world, but not as much in the mainstream U.S. media. Log on to
www.usahockey.com to follow all of the action, including the play of Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau!

Predictions: WCHA Finish

1. UMD Deep, strong & on a run
2. GOPHERS Will contend to the end
3. DU Good top end players
4. CC Need consistency
5. UNO Also need consistency
6. UND Will they come on in second half
7. SCSU Talented, but not enough
8. BEMIDJI Good skill, not enought depth
9. WISCONSIN Not the Badgers of past
10. TECH Good start, can they finish?
11. MANKATO Some talent for future
12. ANCHORAGE Decent start but fading

Gophers With Double Digit Points

GOALS POINTS 1st Half Grade
Nick Bjugstad 16 27 A
Erik Haula 9 25 A-
Kyle Rau 12 22 A
Nate Schmidt 1 21 A-
Jake Hansen 8 19 B-
Zach Budish 4 18 B-
Nate Condon 4 14 B
Taylor Matson 5 13 B+
Mark Alt 4 13 B

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