Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gophers Lose; Will Open Playoffs on the Road

One night after playing inspired hockey in a 3-2 victory over UMD, the Gopher hockey team sleepwalked its way through a 3-0 loss to the Bulldogs, assuring they will open the first round of the WCHA playoffs on the road.

Justin Fontaine scored twice for the 'Dogs and Brady Hjelle picked up his first collegiate shutout, which was also UMD's first of a Gopher team since 1980.

Minny just didn't have it Saturday night. The intensity wasn't there. The team hit two posts in the first period, and Hjelle stopped three Gopher breakaways in the game. It just wasn't meant to be for the Gophers in this one.

With North Dakota's victory over Colorado College, the Gophers are assured of playing on the road in the playoffs. However, they can finish no lower than seventh place and still have a shot at sixth place. More importantly, the team has two games next weekend at home against red-hot Wisconsin. The Badgers are ranked high in the PairWise, and any victory against the Badgers will help the Gophers' prospects for an NCAA Tournament berth. At this point, however, that seems unlikely without the team winning the Final Five tournament.

To say next weekend is a critical series for the Gophers would be an understatement. Of course, it's looking far more likely that this team will need to run the table in the playoffs to get a tournament bid, regardless of what happens against Wisconsin next weekend.

Elsewhere in the WCHA:

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