Here is a Minnesota Golden Gophers update from Minneapolis Star-Tribune beat writer Roman Augustoviz as they prepare to face Minnesota Duluth on Friday and Saturday at the DECC. The Gophers are coming off a home sweep of Colorado College 3-0 and 7-4.
Also, here is video (from a distance) as North Dakota’s Corban Knight hits UMD’s Mike Connolly late in Saturday’s game at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Roman Augustoviz, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Gophers coach Don Lucia said he is seeing good signs from his team and the return of Mike Hoeffel has helped, too. Hoeffel has played four games now since missing four games and three weeks of practice with mononucleosis.
Other good signs? Freshman winger Josh Birkholz had a goal in each game [at home vs. Colorado College] and on Saturday, the defensemen scoring four goals, Lucia said.
"We have been generating shots," Lucia said. "If you look early in the year to what we are now, [getting] 35 to 40 shots a night," Lucia said. "And [Saturday] a few of them went in. That’s what has been lacking for us. The capability ro score some goals."
Offense generates excitment.
"Like tonight the crowd is into the game," Lucia said, referring to Saturday’s afternoon matinee. There are some good hits. It was an entertaining hockey game."
Lucia said his players feel good after scoring 10 goals in the sweep over CC: "[And] they should.
"Nothing changes. Monday you can’t look back, you look forward and we will see what we can do up in Duluth."
Home Ice Chances
There are a number of scenarios which will get the seventh-place Gophers home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Here is the simplest:
* Gophers sweep UMD on road and Wisconsin at home in final two series.
* Colorado College at home sweeps North Dakota next weekend.
* Denver sweeps Colorado College in a home and home series two weekends from now.
Those results would make what CC and North Dakota in their other games immaterial. Right now CC and NoDak are tied for fifth place, the last home-ice spot, with 25 points, the Gophers are three back with 22.
* Gophers sweeping UMD. Minnesota blew two-goal leads in both losses to UMD at Mariucci. One Bulldogs’ victory came on a shot off a skate. Breaks tend to even out. Yet going to a more cozy rink and Dogs will be riled up after losing two at North Dakota.
Women’s Trophy Presentation
The Minnesota Duluth women’s team will be presented with the regular-season championship trophy Tuesday as a 2010 Western Collegiate Hockey Association co-champion.
WCHA women’s commissioner Sarah Martin will be on hand at 3 p.m. to make the presentation at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center before UMD’s practice. UMD athletic director Bob Nielson and chancellor Kathryn A. Martin also will attend.
No. 2-ranked UMD (24-8-2) claimed a share of the title with a sweep at Bemidji State last weekend. No. 3 Minnesota (22-7-5) earned a share of the title, beating Wisconsin on Saturday, and received its trophy after the game at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. They represent the first co-champions in the league’s 11 years. UMD has won or shared four regular-season titles.
The Bulldogs open the WCHA playoffs Friday against North Dakota at the Heritage Center.
Also, this from the Inside College Hockey staff, labled Bench Minor:
The INCH feedback grapevine was recently inundated with notes from Minnesota Duluth fans who were particularly vocal regarding last week’s placement of North Dakota in the INCH Power Rankings. Bulldog observers, understandably, were going on a strict interpretation of the order of the WCHA standings. Our analysis and placement of North Dakota — which closely mirrored other national polls — saw the Sioux’s overall potential and upside, something they demonstrated with a weekend sweep of none other than Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs are having a very good year, but since winning four straight games against Minnesota State and Colorado College in mid-January, UMD is just 2-6-0.