Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gopher Relapse: UNO Turns Back Two Minnesota Comebacks, Sweeps in Minneapolis

This weekend's series against the University of Nebraska-Omaha was chock full of storylines. Had the Gophers finally turned their backs on the disappointments of the last several seasons? Could Nebraska-Omaha show that they can compete in the WCHA?

Perhaps the most compelling story of the weekend, though, was centered on the Nebraska-Omaha bench - specifically, the men wearing the suits. UNO's coaching staff includes former Minnesota player and Fighting Sioux head coach Dean Blais, former Minnesota player and Gopher assistant coach Mike Guentzel, and former Minnesota assistant coach Mike Hastings. Blais is many Gopher fans' wish for the next head coach of the Gophers over current coach Don Lucia, while Guentzel has desired the Minnesota head coaching job ever since being passed over in favor of Lucia after Doug Woog was fired. Could the UNO coaching staff get a couple wins in Minnesota's barn and exact revenge on their former team?

Both teams had considerable momentum coming into their respective WCHA conference opener. The Minnesota Gophers started the season last weekend with a sweep of the University of Massachusets Minutemen, and the Mavericks won the Maverick Stampede, their season opening tournament, by beating Clarkson 8-0 and Frozen Four participant RIT 5-3 in the championship game. Something had to give, and as it turned out, that something was the Gophers.

Friday: 5-4 Gopher Loss

One of the hallmarks of the last several disappointing seasons for the Gophers was the inability to put three full periods of solid hockey together. The Maroon and Gold simply could not avoid the "letdown" period that often sank the team. The Gophers had that letdown in the first period of Friday's game, as Nebraska-Omaha scored three goals (the first two of which on the power play) to grab an early 3-0 lead.

The letdown stretched into the second period, as Nebraska-Omaha scored their fourth goal just before the ten minute mark to stretch the lead even further. However, several undisciplined penalties gave the Gophers a chance to get back into the game, and Minnesota took advantage, with Nate Condon netting rebound goal on a 5-on-3 power play and cutting the lead to 4-1. Jake Hansen scored on another rebound in the slot in the final minute of the period to draw the Gophers to within two at 4-2. There was a buzz inside the arena, and the comeback was on.

The Gophers scored another quick goal on the power play at 2:43 of the third period to cut the UNO lead to one at 4-3. UNO was playing on their heels, content to play defense and limit Gopher chances. They did this successfully for about 15 minutes, until Jay Barriball weaved through the neutral zone at 16:46 and unleashed a slapshot that beat Omaha goalie John Faulkner to tie the score at 4 goals a piece. The Gophers showed great grit and tenacity to claw all the way back from a 4-0 hole to tie the game, but the Gophers' defensive lapses came back to haunt them, as a poor decision by senior Kevin Wehrs led to an Omaha 3-on-1, and UNO's Alex Hudson put the puck past Gopher goalie Alex Kangas and into the back of the net at 18:24 of the third period. The Gophers subsequently pulled their goalie, but could not get another goal and had to settle for a close 5-4 loss.

Saturday: 4-2 Gopher Loss

The intensity the Gophers showed in coming back from such a large hole on Friday night should have augured well for a turnaround on Saturday. However, the Gophers succumbed to another letdown period in the first on Saturday. Super-freshman Matt White scored his fifth goal in only his fourth career collegiate game at 3:10 of the first period, all but silencing a rowdy crowd and putting the Gophers on their heels. Zahn Raubenheimer added Nebraska-Omaha's second goal of the period, and the Gophers again trudged into the locker room for the first intermission looking up at a multi-goal deficit.

The Gophers couldn't get much going in the second period, either, and a Matt Ambroz goal late in the period increased the UNO lead to 3-0. Goalie John Faulkner once again stumped the Gopher offense, and Minnesota once again found itself needing a sizable comeback in the last period to avoid a weekend sweep.

The Gophers got on the scoreboard via a deflection off of an Omaha defender on a one-timer by defenseman Kevin Wehrs. Wehrs, the goat on Friday night whose mistake directly led to Omaha's fifth and game-winning goal, also assisted on the second goal by putting a slapper within deflection range of center Erik Haula, whose deft redirection fluttered past Faulkner and got the Gophers within one goal at 3-2 with just over three minutes remaining. Minnesota didn't put up much of a fight the rest of the way, and a late Omaha goal with Gopher goalie Alex Kangas pulled officially ended the scoring, as well as the Gophers' chances in the game. Nebraska-Omaha went on to win the game 4-2, outshooting the Gophers 48 to 31 in the process.

Three Gopher Stars of the Weekend

Tough to pick three standout players this weekend, but it's my job to do the tough work around here :)

Third Star: Nate Schmidt

Schmidt only played in Saturday's tilt, but he made an impression on me. A freshman defensemen, Schmidt was not afraid to launch slapshots from the point and played pretty consistent defense, both things that the Gophers have been sorely lacking recently. Also impressive is that Schmidt was said to have suffered some sort of injury in practice in the week before the game. Schmidt's tough-nosed defense and toughness in playing a good game even at less than 100% gets him the third star of the weekend.

Second Star: Alex Kangas

Although Kangas gave up eight goals on the weekend, he was hung out to dry numerous times by the porous Gopher defense. Kangas made lots of quality saves and kept his team in the game both nights. I think that Alex needs to do a better job of controlling his rebounds, as many of UNO's goals this weekend came on rebound chances. However, goals aren't only the fault of the goalie, and the defense in front of the Gopher net needs to clear the rebounds more efficiently. I also wonder whether Kangas' temper will harm the team in the future. As an alternate captain and a goaltender, Kangas needs to be a rock in net and project an attitude of calm to the whole team. His visible displays of anger and frustration after goals could be a sign that he wants to be better, or it could be a sign that he does not trust the team in front of him. A calming presence at the back could be a good thing for this inexperienced Gopher squad.

First Star: Nate Condon

Maybe the most impressive freshman this far into the young season, Condon is a quick player who isn't afraid to throw his weight around and go into the high-traffic areas to get control of the puck. Condon impressed this weekend with his hustle as well as his scoring touch, netting the first Gopher goal on Friday that helped jump-start the Minnesota comeback. Condon should be a fixture in the Gopher lineup this year as a bottom-six forward and on the power play. Great first weekend in the WCHA by Nate Condon.


Even though the Gophers came out of the series with the University of Nebraska-Omaha with two losses, I like what this Minnesota team is made of. The team fought back to make close games out of what looked like blowouts, outscoring UNO 6-2 in the final 23:30 of each game. However, as mentioned above, hockey games are 60 minutes long, and the Gophers cannot afford to take the first half of any games off if they want to make some noise this season. The defense needs to improve, true, but most importantly the whole team needs to play hard for three full periods every game. That is on the coaching staff and the upper-classmen: they are the ones that need to prepare the team to play with a purpose each and every shift of the game.

I don't know, but Dean Blais, Mike Guentzel and Mike Hastings might have popped the cork on a few bottles of champagne following the away sweep of the Gophers. They exacted almost perfect revenge on the University of Minnesota, and it was clear that their Nebraska-Omaha squad was better coached than their Gopher counterparts. If you're the UNO coaching staff, how sweet it is.

The Gophers take on St. Cloud State University next weekend. Both teams need wins, as St. Cloud has scuffled out of the gate following a gaudy preseason national ranking. It should be a battle of two desperate teams, although the Gophers and St. Cloud rarely need any excuse to get up for that matchup. Should be a fun weekend at Mariucci Arena!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Year, New Team: 10 Goals Propel Gophers to 2-0 Start Over UMass

If there was one thing the University of Minnesota Hockey team struggled with last year, it was scoring goals. Apparently, scoring troubles are a thing of the past. The Gophers came out firing, scoring ten goals over the weekend series to secure two wins against the UMass Minutemen.

Friday: 5-3 Gopher Win

The Gophers started off on their heels in the first period, as UMass had the better of the play. However, a late power play goal by Jay Barriball got the team on the board, and they took a shaky 1-0 lead into the locker room.

Mike Hoeffel got his first goal of the season just 12 seconds into the second period, taking his own rebound and sliding the puck past UMass goalie Paul Dainton into the back of the net. UMass's Michael Pereira got the Minutemen back within one goal with a power play strike at 9:12 of the period, but Gopher defenseman Seth Helgeson's slapshot from the point at 14:14 of the period gave the Gophers a two goal cushion, which they maintained heading into the third.

The third period was an up-and-down affair, with both teams getting plenty of opportunities to score. UMass scored first in the period, drawing within one goal on another power play tally by Darren Rowe at 4:29 of the period. Freshman defenseman Justin Holl scored the goal that put the Gophers on top for good, rushing down the left wing and firing a wrister that beat Dainton at 11:59 of the period. UMass wouldn't go down easy, though, scoring another goal at 14:39 of the period to put the score at 4-3 and make the closing minutes scary for Gopher fans. The final nail in the coffin was a Zach Budish empty net goal at 19:41 of the period, clinching the first win of the season for the Maroon and Gold.

Saturday: 5-4 Gopher Win

It was a weekend of firsts for the Gophers. If Friday was the first win of the season, then Saturday would be the first sweep of the year. The Gophers opened on Saturday with their best period in several years, manhandling the Minutemen behind the strength of a Jay Barriball natural hat trick and firing 17 shots on net to enter the intermission with a 3-0 lead. The first period also saw UMass goalie Paul Dainton leave due to an undisclosed injury, and backup Jeff Teglia came in to provide relief. Gopher goalie Kent Patterson stopped all seven shots he faced in the period.

The first period was one of the best Gopher periods in a long time, and the second was just as bad as the first was good. UMass bulged the twine three times, while the Gophers lone goal came at the hands of a Jacob Cepis breakaway. All in all, the Gophers were lucky to escape with a very tenuous 4-3 lead after two periods.

One thing the Gophers just could not seem to do last season was get a goal to expand the lead and put the game out of reach. While it didn't quite seal the victory, an early goal by Nico Sacchetti put the Maroon and Gold ahead by two goals, and although UMass scored with two minutes left to draw within one, the Gophers won comfortably by the final score of 5-4.

Three Gopher Stars of the Weekend

Yes, it's back: the Three Gopher Stars feature. After every weekend series, I will share the three stars of the weekend, the three players who made the difference in the game. Of course, since I have a staunch Gopher bias, all of the stars will be Gophers :)

Third Star: Jacob Cepis

Cepis was all over the ice against UMass (as usual), creating opportunities and generally hustling at 100% every shift. He is tenacious when he's on the ice and really has a knack of energizing the offense. A 1 goal-2 assist weekend gets Cepis the third star.

Second Star: Seth Helgeson

Helgeson played excellent defense in both games against UMass, and was a steadying force at the blueline all weekend. He was not afraid to throw his weight around, connecting multiple times with hard body checks. More importantly, though, Helgeson was not afraid to fire the puck, rearing back and unleashing heavy slapshots from the point multiple times during the series. Helgeson was the team's best defenseman against the Minutemen, and he could play a big role for the team this year if he can be a force on both sides of the ice. Excellent defense, coupled with a big goal in Friday's tilt, gives Helgeson the nod as the number two star.

First Star: Jay Barriball

This team goes as Jay Barriball goes. Never one to shy away from getting his nose dirty, Barriball scored the team's first goal this season on a garbage goal mucking at the side of the net, and proceeded to score three more goals in the first period on Saturday. Barriball represents a full 40% of the team's goals so far, and he's going to need to score if the Gophers are going to have a chance to make some noise this season. Four goals and one assist give Jay Barriball the first star of the weekend.


All in all, a good weekend for the Gophers. While the team defense definitely needs to improve, the offense, a huge stumbling block the past two seasons, burst onto the scene in a big way. After only scoring more than five goals eight times last season, the Gophers opened with a pair of five goal games to start the year. The defense definitely needs to tighten up, with Gopher goalies Alex Kangas and Kent Patterson bailing out the team often, but the offense is encouraging. If the defense improves, which it should throughout the course of the season, this team should definitely be better than the previous year's version!

Gopher Forward Preview: Healthy Barriball and a Full Season of Cepis should Energize Gopher Attack

While goaltending and defense are crucial aspects of Hockey, if your team doesn't score any goals they're not going to win any games. This year's crop of Gopher forwards has the potential to be the most potent in several years - and, let's be honest, it doesn't take much to be more potent than the most shut out offense since the early 1900s. Here is a look at the Golden Gopher forwards by class, starting with the seniors:


Jay Barriball: Voted captain by his peers, Jay Barriball returns to the team as a senior in 2010-2011 to lead the Gophers on and off the ice. The redshirt senior, injured just five games into the 2009-2010 season, projects to be near the top of the Gopher leaderboard in goals and points this season. While Barriball may not be the most physically gifted Gopher, his hustle and heart are a combination not matched by many other players. A 20 goal scorer in his freshman season, Barriball has never quite matched the output he dazzled fans with in 2006-2007. However, surrounded by offensively talented players this year, there's potential for Barriball to meet and exceed his single season highs in his fifth season wearing a Gopher uniform.

Mike Hoeffel: One of the team's alternate captains, Hoeffel has the chance to live up to his overwhelming offensive potential this year. A sniper stuck in a power forward's body, Hoeffel is 6'2", 195 lbs. of goal scorer that the Gophers could definitely use. He's at his best taking a pass from a playmaker and depositing it into the back of the net. Hoeffel is also great along the boards, often taking the puck in the corner and shedding the defenders to walk out all by himself. Look for Hoeffel in front of the net during the power play and on the top line all year long.

Jacob Cepis: Cepis joined the team midway through the season last year, a transfer from Bowling Green. Despite playing in only 21 games last year Cepis was fifth on the team in scoring, posting 19 points (7 G, 12 A) and leading the team in points per game at 0.9. Cepis is listed at a very generous 5'8", 175 lbs., but plays much bigger than his diminutive frame. Cepis is always hustling, and the best part of his game is the way he pesters opposing teams. Cepis should be logging top-six minutes all season long, and expect to see his name on the score sheet often this season.

Patrick White: It's hard to believe that Pat White is already a senior, mostly because he has done much less than anyone expected of him as an incoming Freshman. White was one of the jewels in this recruiting class's crown, but he just hasn't contributed as expected to this point in his career. White has one more season to show the coaches, fans, and NHL scouts that he's capable of being what everyone thought he could become.


Jake Hansen: Another forward in the Pat White mold, high expectations were placed on Hansen when he suited up in the Maroon and Gold. A second-team USHL All-Star the year before his freshman season, Hansen racked up 31 goals and 58 points in only 60 games with Sioux Falls. The transition to the college game is a tough one, however, and over his next two years Hansen only accumulated 9 goals and 19 points in 71 games as a Gopher. The scoring touch is there, Hansen just needs to find it. If the Gophers can get some scoring from Hansen, they should be able to shake out of the low-scoring funk of the previous two years and get some goals on the board.

Nick Larson: A depth player / role player, Larson gives the Gophers some much-needed grit at forward. Larson is a big kid, and expect to see him pretty frequently on the ice as a third or fourth line skater and a penalty killer. Larson is a grinder who will outwork opponents and should give the Gophers quality minutes.

Taylor Matson: Although Matson will probably be centering the fourth line again this year, don't think of him as anything but a vital component of this team. Matson is the definition of hustle - he skates at 100% at all times when he's on the ice. Although Matson is a junior this year, he has only played in 32 games in his career. Both his freshman and sophomore seasons were cut short due to injuries. Hopefully for Matson and the Gophers, the third time will be the charm and he'll be able to provide the Maroon and Gold with his talents for the entire season this year.

Nico Sacchetti: Along with Jake Hansen and Patrick White, Nico Sacchetti's Gopher career cannot be summed up in any way other than "underachiever". A slick center, Sacchetti has the hands of a sniper and the goal-scoring knack of Stu Bickel. Despite the fact that he oozes skill and talent, Sacchetti has not shown the ability to create much offense for himself or for his linemates. Perhaps this is the year that he breaks out and posts 30 points. If not, though, Sacchetti is still a grinding center that wins plenty of faceoffs and plays acceptable defense.

Joey Miller: The definition of a depth forward, Miller only saw limited action with the University of Minnesota in his first two seasons. Miller tallied 3 points playing in just 29 games in those two years. Expect more of the same from Miller this year - with the large freshman crop, Miller will likely only be called upon for a couple games here and there. He's a fourth line player who hustles and keeps the puck out of the Gopher net.


Zach Budish: The Gophers only return one sophomore forward to the team this year, and that is Zach Budish. Budish had a great freshman campaign, logging nearly all of his minutes as the center of the first line, Budish scored 7 goals and added 10 assists, all while leading the team in faceoff winning percentage and being an absolute beast along the boards. In practice, Coach Lucia has moved Budish to the wing. While this won't allow Budish to use his faceoff skills, it will let him use his large frame more along the side boards to cycle the puck and control possession.


Nick Bjugstad: Hailing from Blaine HS, Minnesota's 2009-2010 Mr. Hockey award winner joins the team as the tallest Gopher player at 6'4". Bjugstad has good hockey bloodlines - his uncle Scott also played for the Gophers, recording 163 points in his career (18th all time). Bjugstad has big shoes to fill, and expectations are high for the Florida Panthers' first round pick. Bjugstad should be centering one of the top two lines this year, so look for him to be involved in the offense right away for the Maroon and Gold.

Erik Haula: The first foreign-born Gopher since Thomas Vanek, Erik Haula will bring a lot of skill to this Gopher team. Slated to center the first line, Haula will be relied upon early and often to provide playmaking abilities to the top line and to the power play. A native of Finland who played at Shattuck-St. Mary's high school, Haula could be a shot-in-the-arm for this team.

Nate Condon: Another offensive player, Condon racked up 51 points in 60 USHL games last season playing for the Fargo Force. Condon is a fairly big kid at 6'1", but he plays like a little guy, with good quickness and no fear. Condon could be a big boost to the third or fourth line this year, and should provide a little scoring touch from the bottom six forwards that the Gophers haven't seen for several years.

Tom Serratore: Serratore, a walk-on who is already one of the older players on the team, will be called upon this year to bring some experience and some grit to the Gophers. Serratore should feature prominently on the penalty kill this season. He is a player who is known for his "lunch pail" attitude - he is not afraid to get his nose dirty and get to work in order to make a play. If he can provide a little offensive pop to the fourth line, that would be a bonus. However, expect solid overall play on the defensive side of the puck from this newcomer.

Max Gardiner: Gardiner, a senior last year at Minnetonka High School (along with fellow freshman teammate Justin Holl), might be a little raw heading into his first collegiate-level season. He dominated the High School ranks, scoring 54 points in just 23 games for the #1 nationally ranked Minnetonka Skippers. However, Gardiner relied on his size (6'2") and skill to breeze past opposing teams in high school. College opponents will provide a stiffer challenge for Gardiner. Expect him to crack the lineup fairly infrequently this year. He's got the talent to be an elite player at this level, but he may not be ready to take on that challenge this year.

Jared Larson: Larson is something of a mystery. He played his high school hockey at Apple Valley, and continued to play in Fairbanks for the NAHL's Ice Dogs. In two seasons, Larson posted respectable points numbers for the Ice Dogs, while playing in nearly all team games. Larson is probably a depth player / reserve for this Gopher team, and will likely see very limited ice time barring injuries.


This group of forwards has a little bit of everything: size, speed, grit and experience. The biggest thing it has going for it, though, is sheer numbers. Coach Lucia has stated that there will be competition for ice time this year, and that the 12 players that work hard and are deserving will hit the ice in games. With 16 rostered forwards, that means that four players will be on the outside looking in each and every game. Hopefully that competition will work to Lucia's advantage this season, and the players will compete with each other and make the whole team better. Don't expect to see any loafing players this year (looking at you, Jordan Schroeder) - they'll probably be taking the game in from the press box if they mail in too many efforts.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gopher Defenseman Preview: Fairchild, Wehrs, Ness Pace a Very Raw Gopher D

The Gophers return only four defensemen from the 2009-2010 squad. Two seniors (Cade Fairchild and Kevin Wehrs), one Junior (Aaron Ness) and one Sophomore (Seth Helgeson). The blueline took a significant hit last year, sustaining key losses to freshman Nick Leddy (signed with the Chicago Blackhawks), sophomore Sam Lofquist (left the team to play junior hockey in Canada) and seniors David Fischer and Brian Schack (both graduated). The team will have an influx of new talent this year, with four freshmen manning the defensive blue line. Let's take a look at the upperclassmen and the underclassmen before evaluating the unit as a whole.


Senior Cade Fairchild: Fairchild was the top scoring defenseman on the team last year with 4 goals and 17 assists for 21 total points. That output, however, was far lower than expected and a significant drop from his 9 goal, 33 point sophomore campaign. Always offensive minded, Fairchild should again lead the Maroon and Gold in points from the blue line - the question is, will Fairchild's production lead the team to victories, or will the Gophers' anemic team production result in another stifled effort for the senior?

Senior Kevin Wehrs: His first two years in the Maroon and Gold, Wehrs was looked at as the sixth or seventh defenseman option for the team. Wehrs actually played in the majority of the team's games throughout his career, though he was not the stiffest presence at the back for the team. He notched 13 assists his first two campaigns, before finally breaking through with that all-important first goal his junior season, adding another for good measure as well as seven assists. The biggest improvement in Wehrs' game last year, though, was his defensive zone play with the puck. Wehrs, long causing Gopher fans to cringe whenever he handled the puck in the defensive zone, turned into a stalwart in the Gopher zone, surrendering few opportunities and making solid outlet passes to start the offense. That is what the Gophers will need from Wehrs this year- solid defensive zone play. This becomes all the more important when realizing that the Gophers return such little experience on the blue line.

Junior Aaron Ness: Minnesota's Mr. Hockey in his final year at Roseau High School, Ness has struggled to get up to the collegiate level his past two years at the U. Ness has always been an excellent offensive player - his best attributes are his skating abilities and his great hands. However, Ness has faltered when it comes to defensive positioning. Known for not being engaging enough when an opposing player is bearing down in the Gopher zone, opposing teams' chances were often a stride or two closer to the goalie than they would have been if Ness had played the body instead of continuing to backpedal. The offense will come, but will Ness finally learn to use his body and his skating to become a pest in the defensive zone?


The underclassmen are somewhat of a mystery. Consisting of four freshmen and a sophomore, the group will be asked to shoulder much of the load on the blue line this season.

Sophomore Seth Helgeson: Big, strong player who plays a solid brand of stay-at-home defense. Helgeson is more of a "what you see is what you get" type of player. He won't help out much on the offense (only one point on the year last year - a HUGE goal in the WCHA playoffs) but Helgeson will give the Gophers solid minutes on the blue line.

Freshman Mark Alt: Alt, a blue-chip prospect from Cretin-Derham Hall, also quarterbacked his high school football team to a state title. He considered a football scholarship offer from Iowa before deciding to lace up the skates for the Maroon and Gold. Alt is another big guy at 6'3", 194 lbs., and should provide some of the physicality of Helgeson mixed in with the offensive potential of Cade Fairchild. It appears that the sky is the limit for this kid.

Freshman Justin Holl: Holl played in the state championship game for Minnetonka just this spring, and will now be donning the "M" for the Gophers. His overall game reminds me a lot of Nick Leddy - Holl is extremely poised with the puck in the defensive zone, he can skate with the best of them and isn't afraid to join the rush or create offense of his own. While it may take a little longer for Holl to accelerate to the pace of the game than it did Leddy, don't be surprised if you confuse this year's number 12 (Holl) for last year's number 5 (Leddy) by the end of the season.

Freshman Jake Parenteau: Parenteau is an older freshman who has some offensive upside. He scored 16 goals and added 31 assists in the NAHL last season. Parenteau should be fighting for ice time along with Holl, Alt and Nate Schmidt. Expect to see Parenteau in less than half of the team's games, if only because Coach Lucia wants to see more competition for playing time this year.

Freshman Nate Schmidt: another offensive-minded defenseman, Schmidt's slapshot should be the fastest one on the team this year. Schmidt notched 14 goals and 23 assists in 57 games last year for the USHL's Fargo Force, which means that the kid is not afraid to launch the puck at opposing netminders. Schmidt should add something to the Gopher blue line that we haven't seen in quite a while - a slapshot from the point. I would guess that Schmidt, when in the lineup, will be featured somewhere on the Gopher power play, since his shot could change the team's fortunes on the man advantage.

Defense Outlook

Overall, the defenseman's job is to play defense. I think that will be the big question mark on these defenders and perhaps the key to the whole team's play this season. Can the defensemen limit the number of Grade "A" opportunities that they give the opposing teams this season? I don't think we have to worry about offensive production from the D. As long as the team is scoring goals, the defensemen will have a say in the points. Look for Fairchild, Ness, Alt, Holl, Schmidt and Parenteau to factor into the scoring. I see the defensive play coming down to several important factors: 1) can Fairchild and Ness improve enough on defense to keep the puck out of their own net? and 2) can the freshmen step up and provide solid minutes on the blue line?

I think the answer to both of these questions is "yes" but we'll see how it all shakes out on the ice.

The forwards are up next, followed by a game recap of the game on Sunday versus the University of British Columbia!