Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gopher Pucks Win a Wild One

After dropping both games last weekend against St. Cloud State, the Gopher hockey team desperately needed a win Friday night to keep their flickering NCAA Tournament hopes alive. They did so, defeating Alaska-Anchorage 7-4 in a shootout at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

Jordan Schroeder and Mike Carman each scored twice for Minnesota. Freshman Zach Budish picked up a goal and three assists for a career-high four points. Jacob Cepis notched three assists in the game, and freshman defenseman Nick Leddy set up two Minnesota goals. Patrick White and David Fischer were the other goal-scorers. The Gophers' anemic power play went 3-5 in the game, and Minny threw 36 shots on the UAA goal.

The key portions of this game when Schroeder scored a power play goal with one second remaining in the opening period, giving the Gophers a 2-2 tie into the intermission. In the second period, Fischer's goal just 32 seconds in gave Minnesota a lead it would not relinquish.

Not all was cream cheese for the Gophers in this one. Goaltender Alex Kangas was shaky in the nets, notching just 17 saves in 21 attempts. He saved just two of four UAA shots in the first period, marking the third-consecutive game where he has been less-than-stellar in the first period. The Gophers need to get him going.  

On the plus side, it's obviously good to get a win, but it's especially encouraging to see the team find the back of the net. Carman had been in quite a funk lately, and it's nice to see him get two goals. Budish has really emerged of late and Cepis continues to impress, stretching his points streak to eight consecutive games and has notched 5-6-11 in his nine games in the maroon and gold.

For the Gophers, they aim to do what only St. Cloud State has been able to accomplish this season: sweep UAA on home ice. The Seawolves are now 0-6-0 in Friday night home games, but have only been swept once. In last weekend's series, UAA was hammered by Colorado College 6-1 on Friday night and then defeated CC 2-1 on Saturday. Given the close proximity UAA has to the Gophers in the WCHA standings - three points separate the two teams - the Gophers really cannot afford to have anything other than a victory in Saturday night's game.

A win on Friday night is a good place to start.

Elsewhere in the league:

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