Thursday, November 14, 2013

Irish Split + Purple Cow Party!

Robert Franklin, South Bend Trib
Welcome back to your weekly dose of Gopher Hockey.  The Gophers are coming off of their toughest weekend of the season so far.  The #1 Gophers went into South Bend, Indiana to take on the #3/#4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  After a tough Friday night where Minnesota lost their first game of the season, and frankly did not look good at all, they battled back using their outstanding freshman class to split the series with a 5-4 win Saturday night.

Friday night the Compton Family Ice Center was rocking as the Gophers had not made the trip to South Bend since 1980.  The first period was a back and forth affair, but no one could get the puck past either of the two outstanding goalies, Adam Wilcox for Minnesota and Stephen Summerhays for Notre Dame.  After Tom Serratore picked up a roughing minor early in the second period, Byran Rust made the Gophers pay as he slid a backhand past Wilcox on the power play to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.  Five minutes later Ben Marshall would even the score for the Gophers with a nifty wrist shot from the top of the left circle.  Unfortunately, that would be the lone Gopher goal of the evening.  With three minutes left in the period, Sam Herr scored on another power play for Notre Dame and gave them a 2-1 going into the third.  Notre Dame would add a third goal three minutes into the third, and an empty netter with under a minute left to cap off their 4-1 victory, and give the Gophers their first loss of the season.

It would be a mystery how the Gophers would react Saturday night after their worst played game of the season the night before, and it would be Minnesota's outstanding freshman class that carried them that evening.  The Gophers started the scoring with Taylor Cammarata would score his third goal of the season on the power play about seven minutes into the game.  The freshman onslaught continued three minutes later as Hudson Fasching went to the wrap around on a nifty play and put Minnesota up 2-0 ten minutes into the game.  Notre Dame would answer a minute and a half later to cut the Gopher lead to 2-1, but Justin Kloos would come through at the 15-minute mark to once again extend the lead to 2 goals at 3-1.  With 17 seconds left in the first period, the Gophers were victimized by an Irish player they know well.  Mario Lucia, Gopher coach Don Lucia's son scored his first of two goals on the night and make it 3-2 Gophers after one period of play.

Fasching would add his second goal of the night and fifth of the season seven minutes into the second go put the Gophers up 4-2.  However, the Irish were not going to go down that easily.  Lucia scored his second of the game to cut the lead to 4-3, and with the Gophers down two men late in the second period, Stephen Johns scored with two second left in the period to send it to intermission knotted at 4.  In a back and forth third period, the only tally was scored by another freshman, Jake Bischoff.  His second goal of the year was enough, as Wilcox held strong down the end and Minnesota hung on for a 5-4 victory.

Hudson Fasching was rewarded with the Big Ten's Third Star of the Week after his weekend against the Irish where he had two goals and an assist.  He currently leads all Big Ten Freshmen in points (11), goals (5), and =/- (+12).  A Gopher player has been named one of the three starts each week so far this season.  The Gophers also kept their #1 national ranking after the split as all of the teams on their heels also lost at least one game this weekend. 

Purple Cow Party!!!

It will feel like the old WCHA the next few weeks for the Gopher hockey team as they will host three familiar foes the next three weeks.  This weekend's series is against the Minnesota State- Mankato Mavericks.  For those wondering why this is a purple cow party, this is the Mavericks Logo:
Makes you think Mankato huh.....

The Gophers and Mavericks are of course former in-state rivals in the old WCHA.  MSU-M is still currently in the "new" WCHA, and are 2-2 in conference play and 4-4 overall this season.  The Gophers are 33-10-6 all-time against the Mavericks and have a 16-4-6 record at Mariucci Arena.  However, MSU-M has had recent success against the Gophers as the teams are 5-5 in their last ten games.  The Gophers will also see a familiar face on the Maverick bench as their coach Mike Hastings is a former Gopher assistant.  He has a 2-2 record against his former team.

The Mavericks are led in scoring so far this season by Senior Forward Johnny McInnis. His six points are the most on the squad and his three goals are tied for the team lead.  Sophomore Bryce Gervais is another player with a high-scoring potential.  he is tied for the team lead with three goals as well.   Much of the Maverick's recent success has been on the shoulders of Sophomore Goalie Stephon Williams.  Williams was one of the best goalies in the NCAA last season until he self-destructed in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Since them he has struggled to regain his form giving up 3.4 goals per game this season, with only an 87% save percentage.  This has made Hastings have to rely a lot more on Freshman Cole Huggins, who in portions of four games this season has only allowed three goals and has a 96.4% save percentage.  It would be expected that the Gophers will most likely see both goalies this weekend. Being back home will be a recharge for this squad, so I forsee a Gopher sweep, with a 5-2 win Friday and a 4-3 win Saturday to hear the Battle Hymn!

Both games this weekend will face-off at 7:10 at Mariucci Arena.  Both games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Plus, and will be streamed via  The Friday night game will be on AM1500, and the Saturday night game will be on 107.1 due to a conflict with Gopher Basketball.  

What they are saying on the Twitters:

No don't do could be worse you could go to St. Cloud?

Yes Please!

Umm....A bit whiny if you ask me... burns so good.


 And Now for Some Dancing....




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