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Gophers No. 1 In WCHA

02/21/2012, 3:36pm CST
By Greg Anzelc

Next up: Nebraska Omaha

Great Hockey On Tap This Weekend!

Scores from last weekend:

Friday, February 17:
Bemidji State 0 at Minnesota 3
Denver 3 at Wisconsin 0
Alaska Anchorage 3 at St. Cloud 2 (OT)
Minnesota-Duluth 4 at Minnesota State 2
Michigan Tech 2 at North Dakota 4
Nebraska-Omaha 3 at Colorado College 4

Saturday, February 18:
Alaska Anchorage 3 at St. Cloud State 8
Bemidji State 1 at Minnesota 4
Denver 2 at Wisconsin 5
Minnesota-Duluth 4 at Minnesota State 4 (OT)
Michigan Tech 1 at North Dakota 1 ot
Nebraska-Omaha 5 at Colorado College 3

This Week in the WCHA

This is a big weekend of hockey for the WCHA leaders. Minnesota sits atop the WCHA with a two-point lead over second-place UMD and a four-point lead over third-place Denver. Minnesota is currently tied at number eight in the pairwise rankings There could be some separation created by Sunday as Minnesota travels to UNO while UMD hosts CC and Denver hosts UND.

Goaltender Kent Patterson was named the Red Baron® WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Bemidji. Patterson surrendered just a single power-play goal in the Gophers’ victories over the visiting Beavers. This sweep secured a home playoff berth. He posted five shutout periods and stopped 33 of 34 shots on goal for a .971 save percentage. With the win last Friday he elevated his single-season school record for shutouts to seven. A draftee of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, Patterson leads the nation in victories (21) and tops the WCHA with a 2.09 goals-against average overall along with a 21-11-1 record and .917 save percentage.

Left winger Kyle Rau, who assisted on three of the Gophers' seven goals has been named the Red Baron® WCHA Rookie of the Week. Rau contributed two assists in the Gophers’ 3-0 victory over BSU last Friday night, with one coming on teammate Zach Budish’s game-winning goal in the first period. Then Saturday evening, Rau drew an assist on Erik Haula’s second-period power-play goal that put Minnesota up 3-1 in the eventual 4-1 victory. Through 30 games this season, Rau is the second highest-scoring rookie in the WCHA with 31 points (14g, 17a), trailing Denver defenseman Joe LaLeggia (10-23=33) by two points.

Last weekend Minnesota really took it to Bemidji, especially on Friday night as they were a much better team. Saturday Minnesota came back with an impressive 4-1 win and showed that they have the firepower to end up in pretty good shape.

Looking ahead to the weekend against Omaha, they have two pretty good lines with good speed and good shooters. The Mavericks sit in a three-way tie for fourth place in the WCHA with CC and North Dakota heading into their final four games. UNO is led offensively by sophomore Matt White (16g-21a) and junior captain Terry Broadhurst (16g-19a). Freshmen Jayson Megna (11g-18a) and Josh Archibald (10g-5a) and sophomore Ryan Walters (10g-14a) have also reached double digits in goals. Walters was originally committed to Minnesota before he headed off to UNO. Defensively, the team is led by junior Bryce Aneloski (6g-13a) and sophomores Michael Young (4g-11a) and Andrej Sustr (3g-12a). The ‘d’ core is big and at six-foot-eight, Sustr is Division I college hockey’s tallest player. Between the pipes, rookie Ryan Massa and senior John Faulkner have split most of the playing time. Massa is 7-5-2 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage, while Faulkner is a 5-6-2, allowing 3.11 goals per 60 minutes with an .877 save percentage. Look for a high energy, hard forecheck style of play where they really go after the puck. This team has 7 shorthanded goals.

 

Minnesota has all of the motivation in this series and are healthy, with the exception of Ben Marshall how may not play. The Gophers will need to get the puck behind the tall, physical defensemen and create foot races in the UNO defensive zone.

 

The Friday night game is a big one not only for Minnesota, but also for the attitude and motivations of UMD and Denver who are watching closely from the second and third spots.

 

The Call:  3 points for Minnesota

 

St. Cloud State at Michigan Tech
Tech continues to score goals and get shots on net, no reason they shouldn’t pick up a win in this series.
The Call:  Split

Colorado College at Minnesota Duluth
UMD has a better and deeper team and they are playing at home with a do or die attitude with the championship in sight.
The Call:  UMD sweep

Wisconsin at Bemidji State
These are virtually identical teams in some categories.
The Call: Split

North Dakota at Denver
UND has been making some noise lately, and Denver has plenty of talent. This should be a pretty good series.
The Call: Split

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