Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three Gopher Stars of the Weekend: Minnesota vs. Michigan State

In a strange confluence of events, Kent Patterson did not make the Three Gopher Stars of the Weekend for his unusually lackluster performance last weekend. Read on to find out who DID make the coveted podium!

Third Star: Nick Bjugstad - 2G-2A-4P

Another weekend at the office for the nation's top goal scorer. Bjugstad racked up two goals in Friday night's game before piling on another two assists in the Saturday contest. Bjugstad is tied with Wisconsin's Justin Schultz and Mark Zengerle for first place in total points in the country, but the sophomore's emergence as a goal scorer is the truly remarkable thing here: in his last 22 games played dating back to last season, Bjugstad has scored 20 goals.

Second Star: Zach Budish - 1G-2A-3P

The "unheralded" star on the Gopher first line, Zach Budish broke out of a slump this weekend, breaking a seven-game goal scoring drought by notching his fourth goal of the season. Although Budish plays on the first line, the Gophers count on him for "secondary scoring" - anyone not named Bjugstad, Rau or Haula should be considered secondary scoring on this team - and a good offensive weekend for the redshirt sophomore could point towards an increase in production going forward.

First Star: Tom Serratore - 0G-0A-0P

I would be hard pressed to look at anyone that played on this Minnesota roster last weekend and come up with a player that made more of an impact on his team than did Tom Serratore. He did not factor in the scoring whatsoever, but the guy is a menace when he's out on the ice. Serratore is perhaps the perfect fourth line player - he's gritty, his motor is always going, he's a sound defensive forward, and he has a little bit of pop in his offensive game, too. The man is always noticeable in a positive way on the ice, pressuring the puck with hard forechecking or simply laying a big, clean hit on an opponent to knock him off balance. In fact, I think other than the Gopher first line, the fourth line is the one that dominates the most when on the ice. Due credit must also go to Serratore's typical linemates Nick Larson and Travis Boyd. The three of them together are a hard-working and effective dynamo. Serratore, though, was the best and brightest last weekend, and he deserves the number one star because of it.

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