Monday, January 4, 2010

Hot Goalie, Defensive Lapses, Cost Gopher Hockey

The Gopher hockey team's four-game winning streak came to an end Sunday night, as they lost to Northern Michigan 4-2 in the championship game of the Dodge Holiday Classic at Mariucci Arena. Wildcats' goaltender Brian Stewart stopped 48 of 50 Minnesota shots en route to tournament MVP honors and left the Gophers searching for answers by the end of the night.

The Gophers controlled the play from the outset, out-shooting Northern 18-7 in the first stanza and using a power play goal by Mike Hoeffel to take a 1-0 lead. Northern Michigan's Gregor Hanson answered back with a power play tally of his own to tie the score nearly seven minutes into the second period, and Northern's Ray Kaunisto gave the Wildcats the lead five minutes later. The Gophers' newcomer Jacob Cepis tied the score when the swept home a goal in traffic just as a Northern Michigan penalty was expiring to give the Gophers a 2-2 tie, but Northern Michigan's Kaunisto knocked home a dagger with a screen shot with just 13 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.

Despite pressure in the third period, the Gophers could not solve Stewart. TJ Miller's tally with three minutes and change remaining in the game gave Northern a 4-2 lead. Despite a late power play, the Gophers could not get any closer, and the streak was over.

Despite out-shooting Notthern Michigan 50-23 in the game and having much of the early jump, Minnesota fell in this one. Stewart was spectacular in goal, but the Gophers lost because they could not clear traffic in their own end in the second period. All three Northern goals came through traffic and goaltender Alex Kangas was fighting to see the puck each time. Two goals came directly off faceoffs, suggesting sloppy play in the defensive zone. These are issues the Gophers have had all season long and need to be corrected before league play resumes in two weeks.

A positive sign was the play of transfer Cepis, who provided a goal and plenty of energy during the weekend. A big scorer his freshman year at Bowling Green, Cepis should provide the Gophers with some much-needed scoring touch, especially when Jordan Schroeder returns from the World Junior Championships next week. Cepis' line with Hoeffel and Mike Carman provided plenty of energy all night Sunday.

One final non-conference series remains next weekend as the Harvard Crimson come to Mariucci Arena for a weekend set. Harvard had lost four in a row before defeating Quinnipiac last Tuesday, but are only 2-8-2 on the season. A weekend sweep won't help the PairWise at all, but it will prevent the Gophers from dropping themselves further into a hole. 

  • Bad news, but Taylor Matson suffered an ankle injury in Saturday's win over Bowling Green and did not play Sunday. He was on crutches Sunday, according to the Strib's Roman Augustoviz.
  • Troubled North Dakota forward Matt Frattin is back on the UND team, another fine example by the pillar of jurisprudence, coach Dave Hakstol. Way to take a stand, coach! One has to believe the Siouxsies' struggles of late may have something to do with this, no?
  • The Gophers are still nowhere to be found in the latest PairWise rankings
  • Updated WCHA standings

1 comment:

  1. It will be great to watch Minnesota Golden Gophers, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.