The Gophers began their season last weekend on a high note by winning the Icebreaker Classic at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers kicked off their season with a 6-0 plastering of Mercyhurst on Friday, and followed that up with a 3-2 come from behind win over New Hampshire on Saturday night.
The Gophers got on the board first Friday night as junior captain Kyle Rau put away a rebound on the power play. They added three additional tallies in the second as Seth Ambroz scored what may go down as the goal of the season in the first game of the year. Ambroz ripped a shot off the right goalpost, and caught the carom in midair, dropped the puck and swatted it between his legs in midair off the back of the Mercyhurst goalie and into the net. Trust me, it looked a hell of a lot cooler then I described it...in fact take a look:
|With thanks from @GoAUpher on twitter|
Junior wing Sam Warning added his first of the weekend as did freshman Justin Kloos to make it 4-0 after two periods. In the third, Mike Reilly and Micheal Brodzinski added goals to round out the 6-0 final. Adam Wilcox picked up the fourth shutout of his career.
In Saturday night's game against #12 New Hampshire, the Gophers fell behind for the first time on the season when the Wildcat's Eric Knodel scored on the power play less than 30 seconds into the second period. The Gophers responded back quickly as Hudson Fasching, a freshman from Apple Valley scored his first goal in the maroon and gold. New Hampshire responded, scoring their second goal with about 9 minutes left in the second period, and once again the Gophers had to strike from behind. Warning scored his second goal on the weekend after a Gopher flurry of activity in front of the Wildcat net a minute later to tie the game at two. With just over two minutes left in the second, the Gophers got another freshman, Vinni Letttieri on the score sheet as he came from behind the net to the left faceoff circle, spun around and pushed his shot past New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith. Wilcox and the Gopher defense held, and the Gophers collected the hardware with a 3-2 victory. Warning was named the MVP of the tournament, and was joined on the all tournament team by Rau, Fasching, and Wilcox. The Big Ten also named Warning their second star of the week, and Rau their third star.
Of some concern is the Gopher power play which after going 2-6 in the Friday night game went 0-6 against the Wildcats. This is something that will need to change as the Gopher's opponents continue to improve. Both of New Hampshire's goals also came on the power play Saturday night, so Minnesota cannot be happy with its non 5 on 5 play Saturday.
On to this weeks series: Shave the Beavers!The national poll voters were impressed with the Gophers performance (and aghast at preseason #1 UMass-Lowell losing to the worst team in the NCAA in 2012-13, Sacred Heart) as Minnesota moved from #5 to #3 in both national polls this week. They will make their first road trip of the season this week as they hop onto the busses for a ride up to the Sanford Center and a series with the Bemidji State Beavers.
The Gophers played the Beavers four times last season. The first two games ended the WCHA regular season in Bemidji as Minnesota swept the series by 4-3 and 5-1 scores. The Gopher win on Saturday, coupled with St Cloud State's 3-2 loss to Wisconsin clinched the Gophers tie of the top spot in the WCHA. The teams met the next weekend in Minneapolis in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs as once again the Gophers swept the Beavers by scores of 2-1 and 4-3.
Bemidji State and St Cloud State played a series in St Cloud last weekend, with the Huskies winning 3-2 on Friday and the teams skating to a 2-2 tie on Saturday. The Beavers are still in what is left of the WCHA this season, and the coaches in the league predicted them to finish in seventh place. Junior goalie Andrew Walsh played both games last weekend, and is expected to play both games in goal this weekend as well. Bemidji does not have any notable offensive players to watch out for, however they are a well coached team with Tom Serratore, the uncle of Gopher forward (and also named) Tom Serratore behind the bench.
The Gopher's young roster will be tested on their first games away from Mariucci. However, one would expect a good contingent of Gopher fans to make the trip up north as it is one of the favorite road trips of the season, and outside of Wisconsin is the only true drivable road trip this season with the switch to the Big Ten. The Gophers have won eight of the last ten against the Beavers, and are 14-1-1 all-time. Their only loss to Bemidji took place in November of 2009. I see it being close, but I predict that the Gophers will sweep with scores of 4-2 Friday night and 5-1 Saturday night. Friday night's game will begin at 7:30 and will be broadcast on FSN. Saturday night will start at 7:00 and be on FSN+.
Bemidji Notable Names:#5 Carter Struthers Fr-D
#7 Matt Prapavessis Jr-D
#18 Radoslav Illo Sr-F
#25 Ruslan Pedan Fr-D
#33 Reid Mimmack Fr-G
Here's What They Are Saying on Twitter:
Green and white tutu is complete. Bring on the hockey. #bemidjistate #BeaverNation #beaverprideI'm sure its perfectly pretty....
— Emily Malterud (@emilyTHEaverage) October 16, 2013
I call for the suspension of any @BemidjiState student found to be wearing #Gopher apparel this or any other week.Beaver bandit eh......I bet you're a real pelt stealer
— John Andringa (@beaverbandit) October 15, 2013
Press credentials have arrived. Ready for hockey season. #BemidjiState #WCHA http://t.co/IKGoOit1lH
— Jack Hittinger (@jackhitts) October 15, 2013
Only at #BemidjiState would I be ending my night eating a #Porcupine pic.twitter.com/5P7cPr4FtbUmmm...ok?
— kevin ness (@kev1nness) October 6, 2013