Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sweep for Gopher Six Sets Up Conference Play

The Gopher hockey team defeated Harvard 3-1 on Saturday night, sweeping the weekend set and putting themselves over the .500 mark for the first time all season.

Sophomore forward Nick Larson scored his first two goals of the season to give the Gophers the victory. After spotting Harvard the game's first goal, Cade Fairchild scored his first of the season on the power play to tie the score. After the first intermission, Larson notched his first of the game midway through the second, and added his second tally just eleven seconds into the third period. That was all the offensive production Minnesota would need on the night.

Kent Patterson stopped 21 Harvard shots and picked up his second-consecutive victory in as many starts. The goaltending duo of Alex Kangas and Patterson each picked up wins this weekend over struggling Harvard.

Next up for Minny is North Dakota. The Sioux come into Mariucci Arena fresh off a home sweep of Minnesota State, and have opened up a five-point margin over the Gophers in the WCHA standings. Beginning with the Nodak series, the Gophers will play seven series within the WCHA, all but one of which comes against teams ahead of the Gophers in the league standings. With the Gophers buried in the PairWise rankings, any run toward the NCAA Tournament must begin and end with strong league play. With the non-conference portion of the schedule now complete, the Gophers have no choice but to make a run within the WCHA.

As winners of six of seven, the Gophers have some momentum going into the North Dakota series. They'll need all the luck and effort they can muster the rest of the way. Consider it tournament hockey the rest of the way for the maroon and gold.

Around the WCHA:

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