The Gophers travel to the twin ports this weekend to take on the UMD Bulldogs. Just like when the Gophers travel to UND, this is like the Superbowl, World Series and Olympics all rolled into one for the people of Duluth. This always makes for a good an environment but always leaves me wondering why someone would get excited about beating a 7th place team. That would be like someone getting excited for beating Northwestern and Penn State in basketball right?
I am not going to put much effort into breaking down what the Gophers need to do this weekend because I am tired of writing the same shite and trying to put a new twist on it. They also gutted me last Saturday so I refuse to give my best effort. So here you go. Score a couple power play goals, don’t give up goals from the blue and red lines, don’t wet yourself when you have a lead in the 3rd period and play physical for three periods. Hopefully that covers it for you.
One positive going into this weekend is Jeff Frazee has finally been told to "F off" by Lucia, at least I hope so. If you missed last Saturdays game here is a recap of Jeff’s one period of work. Frazee gave up a first period goal from between the blue and red lines. Drinky then followed that up by getting beat from the far blue line as the horn sounded to end the 1st period. Luckily two SCSU players where busy enjoying the song "Cotton Eyed Joe" as it was being blared into the arena for the tenth time that period and forgot they where offsides. Lucia gave Frazee a death stare and promptly yanked him from the game. This should mean we will finally see Kangas for the majority of the games down the stretch. "Jeff, you suck, drink to much for a 20 year old kid and I want you to leave....now!" If Lucia would have listened to me months ago we wouldn’t be having these problems every weekend. God I should have his job.
UMD is currently sitting in 4th place in the WCHA. That sounds good, but they suck and have played 2 more games then all of the showers of shit that are behind them in the standings. UMD has been a fairly good team at home this year with a 6-1-4 record, this is not a good sign for the Gophers who have struggled over the years at the DECC. Also, if Brandt Nicklin is reading this blog, I still hate you and think you are a complete douche bag.
The Bulldogs rank near the middle of the pack in most key conference statistics, including scoring offense (5th) and defense (5th). Their key players are????? Well they really don’t have any key players, just a bunch of solid guys who work hard. Alex Stalock can be dominant in the net for UMD and has improved from his freshman season. Stalock currently has a .909 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA. Stalock can be very fun to watch and has a little flair to his game. He can also have a bit of Frazee to his game so lets hope we see the latter this weekend.
My prediction is a split this weekend, because neither team is really that good. UMD wins on Friday night 3-2 and the Gophers rebound 4-2 on Saturday.
On a positive note, the Gophers received a commitment this week from Zach Budish (Edina). Zach had narrowed his list of schools down to UND and MN. Obviously this shows Zach has taste and is not a racist. Below is a description of Budish I stole and plagiarized from another blog.
The Gophers landed a big recruit yesterday. 6'2, 210 lbs. Edina forward Zach Budish has given a verbal commitment to play for the Gopher hockey program. Budish is well known as being one of the top players of his age group in Minnesota and his recruitment has been a much discussed situation on the message boards during this past year. The final battle for Budish came down to the Gophers and UND. He had visited both schools in November and had been mulling over the decision ever since.
Budish is a physical forward with soft hands and good play making ability. His skating is above average for a player his size but I would imagine that improving that aspect of his game will be a main focus for future improvement. He is strong on his skates and works well in the corners and around the net. But his biggest asset could be the intangibles he brings to the table. He is very much known as a leader and I have heard more than a few of his peers speak highly of him in regard to his effort and leadership. He is a kid who could very well wear the "C" for the Gophers someday.
On a national scale, Budish performed well at the Selects during the past two summers and was been chosen to be a part of the USA Selects team that would play in an international tourney in the late summer (Three Nations tourney in Rochester, NY in 2006 and the Five Nations tourney in the Czech Republic this past summer). He was one of (roughly) 45 of the best 1991 birth year players invited to try out for the USA National Development Program in Ann Arbor this past spring but he was not extended an invite when all was said and done (only former Chaska HS defenseman Nick Mattson made the team out of the MN kids invited to the tryout).
Congrats to Coach Lucia and the staff on landing another important recruit during a rather frustrating season. Welcome aboard Zach!
* An interesting side note for those who aren't aware of it, Zach's father (Kim) played football at the University of Minnesota back in the 1970s. (According to the records I see via Gophersports, he was in the football program in 1972 and 1973). So Zach is following in his dad's footsteps to some degree. Fortunately, I think Zach's college team will be far more successful than any of the Gopher football teams since the 70s!
Lastly, Congratulations are in order for UND. UND finally swept a home series last weekend breaking a streak that lasted 15 months! Also, congratulations to Snacks on his wedding this weekend.WWWWW, will you be blogging live from the wedding?
Special thanks to Gopherpuck.blogspot.com for writing my Budish comments.