Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

The Minnesota Gopher hockey team needed a victory badly entering this weekend's series against Alaska-Anchorage. They desperately needed a fast start to Friday's game in order to combat a 0-3-1 start which saw the team shut out in all three losses. When the team started Friday's game sluggishly and fell behind 1-0, the crowd began to rumble a bit and sensed a real problem.

After UAA's Nick Haddad scored on the power play eight minutes into the game, the Gophers stepped up their play and scored the game's final five goals to gain a much-needed win over the Seawolves in the opener 5-1.

Although the Gophers' power play continued to struggle (0-5), Friday's game featured two short-handed goals by senior co-captain Tony Lucia. Aaron Ness picked up his first goal of the season, and Kevin Wehrs and Zach Budish each scored their first goals in a Gopher uniform. For all four of those, it was their first points of the season. Also breaking through in the scoring department for the first time this season were Jordan Schroeder and Cade Fairchild.

Alex Kangas was solid in the nets on Friday, stopping 22 UAA shots, including 11 in the third period.

Not all was fun and games Friday. Freshman defenseman Nick Leddy had his bell rung after he was hit high after delivering a shot in the first period. Friday's game was chippy throughout with 78 minutes in penalties, including two scrums in the game's final minute when UAA took exception to Minny putting its top power play line on the ice with a four-goal lead. The Gophers answered the bell after their star - Schroeder - was jumped. When Anchorage defenseman Jared Tuton tried to goad Lucia into a fight, the senior skated away. After UAA's Chris Crowell decided to run anyone who got in his way in the final 30 seconds, Minnesota's big freshman Seth Helgeson dropped him to the ice.

The Gophers played with an intensity Friday night not seen all season long. Saturday is a day off because of a scheduling conflict with the Gopher football team, so the teams will hook up again Sunday afternoon. Let's hope the team can respond with similar intensity.
Elsewhere in the WCHA Friday Night:

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