Well I am leaving for Grand Forks tomorrow morning and will only be working a ½ day tomorrow which I plan to spend reading DWG, Gopher and Sioux Hockey sites and checking email. I figured I would get the preview for this weekends series out today so I could officially do nothing tomorrow morning. WWWWW, you want more hockey, you got it. By the way, you really have nice skin.
The most important thing for the Gophers this weekend will be consistency. I now, I sound like Tony Siragusa with that great bit of insight. The biggest issue plaguing the Gophers this year has been putting together three good periods in a game. By all accounts they did this on Saturday and got a 3-1 victory. Lets see if they can carry that over to this weekend. I am betting no, but will keep my fingers crossed.
The Gophers have to get better play from their defenders this weekend. I am not expecting Paul Martin, Keith Ballard and Jordan Leopold to all of the sudden show up this weekend but they should expect more production than what they have been getting out of the blue line. David Fischer, Cade Fairchild and Stewie Bickel have all been getting better as the season goes on. If David Fischer continues to play at his current rate I could see him leaving for Montreal at the end of the year. In large part the defensive issues have been with the two upper classmen. The Upper classmen have been average at best and usually just bad. Evan Kaufman has not developed at all since his Sophomore year and his effort at times has been Hirsch like. Kaufman was embarrassingly bad last Friday to the point I would have been calling him an F’ing C*nt had The Bear been sitting next to me instead of Snake Jr. I have given up all hope for RJ Anderson. RJ is slow, shoots like my wife and has the offensive creativity of a defender from the Cooper Adaptive floor hockey team. Wehrs is still figuring things out and has been up and down which is expected from a true frosh. I am not going to take the time to break down Schack’s game. Schack is the hockey teams version on Kyle Sanden, he really sucks but is big so they let him play once in a while. Don’t expect to see Schack this weekend unless someone’s leg falls off and even then he might not get the call. If the defenders continue to make soft, cross ice passes out of their zone and don’t get pucks in deep this could be a longer weekend then I am already anticipating. Side note that has nothing to do with hockey- Cade Fairchild’s hair looks exactly like the Dawg’s if the Dawg had a better hairline.
I have no idea what to say about or expect from the forwards. Basically they would have trouble scoring if the other team played half the game with no goaltender. That is not good. This is especially troubling when the Gophers will most likely need to score 4 or 5 goals in a game this weekend if they want to win. I really hoped Lucia would put Barriball, Wheeler and Okposo on the same line, but it looks like he has decided to "stay the path." I am no great hockey mind but this would be a perfect weekend to stack the first line and let them skate against UND’s top line. Lucia could then play clutch and grab hockey with his 2nd and 3rd lines and see what happens. Okposo is starting to look either frustrated or bored. I really can’t blame him with the talent he is getting to skate with, but he needs to be dominant and play with some passion this weekend. The rest of the lines just need to play defensive hockey and be willing to go into the corners. There has been way to many guys turning pucks over to avoid hits and guys not getting into the corners to support the puck. Those are the little things the roll players need to do this weekend so I can look forward to more than just calling Sioux fans racists all weekend. Look for the Okposo/Flynn line to match up with UND’s top line this weekend. Lucia did this with success last year and I would guess he will go with it again this weekend. That means Barriball, Wheeler and Gordon (who couldn’t score in the restroom of Jimmy’s Bar) have to carry the offensive load.
These are suppose to be the games the fat/drunk (Frazee) goaltender is at his best. I could buy into that last season, but say bullshit until he proves me wrong this year. If he goes into Grand Forks and steals a game I will never say he sucks again on this blog. Frazee should get both starts this weekend (unless he sucks Friday) so he will have two chances to prove me wrong.
Obviously the big line the Gophers need to control this weekend is the Oshie/Duncan/VandeValde line. If they can shut that line down they have a chance to steal some points this weekend. The other three lines have talent, but don’t light the world on fire. The gophers need to stay out of the penalty box because the Sioux are at or near the top in every special teams category. Defensively, Taylor Chorney is possibly the top offensive defenseman in the country and makes everything run for UND. Robbie Bina has also turned into a offensive threat (at the age of 37) this year and Joe Finley is a big tall goon who actually tries to play this season. In net Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux (or whatever he calls himself now) is statistically the best goalie in the country this year. That being said, I hate Lamoureux as much as any player ever at UND and would love to see him get run this weekend. I know it is not in vogue to cheer for injuries, but I would smile if this "twat" had his season end. UND’s issue at home this year has been blowing teams away in game #1 then coming back flat and handing teams game #2. I am guessing with the Gophers in town they will have a bit more energy both nights.
To sum things up, I see UND sweeping the gophers this weekend. I would love to see one win for the Gophers, but it isn’t going to happen. I know history says the Gophers own UND up at the Nazi Bunker, but history also use to bring a lot of talent with it. Granted the Gophers will be playing the most overrated team in the history of college hockey (Hey Super Sioux Fan, how idiotic is that comment now......Homer!), but this Gopher team just isn’t that good. This is also like the national championship to the people of Grand Forks so UND will be up for both games. Sioux win 6-3 Friday night and 4-2 Saturday. At least I will be able to call Frazee fat and drunk in the future!
P.S. At least Gopher Fans can say the Gophers lead the all-time series 137-120 (122 after Saturday) vs UND!
P.S.S. Oshie is hot!