Monday, October 19, 2009

Gophers/Sioux: One bad and one good....

Programming Note: I'll be back on the "Papa Joe Chevalier Show" Monday afternoon at 3:30 CDT to talk baseball playoffs. Listen online here.

After the nightmarish performance at the Ralph Englestad Arena last season in which the Gophers were swept away and out-scored 12-4, Minnesota was looking for a better start in Grand Forks this weekend. It looked good for about five minutes of the first period, and then it morphed into something previously seen last season.

UND out-shot Minnesota 43-22 and took the opener 4-0 on Friday night before a raucous sellout crowd of almost 12,000. Brad Eidsness turned aside all 22 Gopher shots, but few shots were quality scoring opportunities. On the other end of the ice, Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas made 39 saves, many of them spectacular, and kept the game from being an even bigger embarrassment. The game slipped away from the Gophers in the second period, which saw UND out-shoot Minnesota 19-9 and completely control the play.

Jason Gregoire, Derrick LaPoint, Chay Genoway, and Mario Lamoureaux each scored for UND, and 11 different Sioux picked up points in the balanced attack. The Sioux scored twice on the power play and once short-handed, as the Gophers' special teams really struggled in the opener.

North Dakota simply out-skated, out-hustled, out-shot, and out-manned Minnesota in the opener. The message boards were alive after Friday's game, calling for coach Don Lucia's head.

Thankfully, the Gophers played better in Saturday's game. They took an early lead on Jay Barriball's goal, only to see it evaporate on two Genoway power play goals. A nice goal by Mike Hoeffel tied the score in the second period, and Hoeffel's tally midway in the third period gave the Gophers an lead. However, defenseman Jake Marto's long shot eluded goaltender Kent Patterson and gave the Sioux a 3-3 tie. The game's final 10 minutes (including OT) features some solid action with scoring opportunities on both ends, but both teams had to be satisfied with one point.

The Gophers were much better in Saturday's game. However, they were still out-shot 34-19 in the second game, making the UND advantage 77-41 in the two-game series. Jordan Schroeder was held to three shots for the entire weekend. The penalty-killers played to a 67% success rate this weekend, as the Sioux were 2-6 both nights. Considering the stark stat disadvantages, it's fortunate the Gophers came away from Grand Forks with any points.

The message-boarders can take it easy on Lucia and the Gophers for a while at least. The Gophers were coming off an off-week and only played one exhibition game to tune up for a trip to Grand Forks, The Sioux, on the other hand, played a non-conference tune-up series at home the weekend prior. Now, it's understandable for fans to be a bit upset about the perceived lack of effort on Friday night, but it was the first game, for crying out loud! Have our expectations become that much more unreasonable?

The road gets no easier for the Gophers next weekend. They return home, but must face preseason consensus WCHA champion Denver. The Pioneers are coming off non-conference splits against Vermont and Ohio State - both tournament teams from a season ago - and will be a tough test for the Gophers. If the M&G plays like it did Saturday in Grand Forks for the upcoming series, they'll be fine.

My Examiner weekend recap is posted here. Check that page often during the week as we prepare for the league's first full slate of conference play next weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment