Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gophers Beat Michigan in OT to Clinch B1G Title!

I've gotta go to bed, but just wanted to throw a couple thoughts on tonight's 3-2 OT victory over the Wolverines:

  • Nice win for the Gophers.  This was against a good team that clearly had something to play for (fighting for their lives in order to make it into the tournament).  I'm sure the Gophers can draw on this win going forward in those tight NCAA tournament games when everything is on the line.
  • The win clinched the B1G regular season title for Minnesota.  This is the first time in program history that Minnesota has won three regular season titles in a row.  While the NCAA Tournament is the big prize, winning the regular season title displays a long-term measure of success that a four game one-and-done tournament cannot showcase.  Hats off to the Gophers - after these last three years, it's hard to fathom that Don Lucia was on the hot seat a short time ago.
  • This win, coupled with BC's loss against Notre Dame in the Hockey East tournament tonight, went a long way towards clinching the #1 overall seed in the tournament.  It's looking like things would need to fall BC's way from here on out to take the top seed away from Minnesota, who holds the head to head record, the common opponents and the RPI over the Eagles.
  • I staunchly believe that the Gophers and BC are head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in college hockey this season.  One thing that I do have minor concerns about is that this Minnesota team does not have a big-time scorer in the lineup that can take over a game.  The Gophers' top scorer, Kyle Rau, sits at 60th on the nation's scoring list.  I think this team clearly has one of the best goaltenders in the country in Adam Wilcox and perhaps the best puck-moving defensive corps in the nation, but I worry a little bit about where the goals are going to come from without a solid scoring leader.  From what I saw tonight, I think Justin Kloos very well could be that guy in the future, but I'm not sure if he's quite ready for that mantle as a freshman this year.  The team is #6 in the nation overall in scoring offense, and that's because they score with depth.  I hope that continues.
  • Don Lucia moved Taylor Cammarata off of the second line tonight and put Vinni Lettieri in his place for most of the game.  I have been a fan of the Cammarata-Kloos chemistry earlier in the year, but I have to say that I was really impressed with what Lettieri brought to that second line.  He's quick, he agitates, he isn't afraid to shoot the puck.  Cammarata is clearly a gifted offensive player, but I don't think he has quite adjusted to the speed of college game yet, especially on defense.  He got beat pretty bad on Michigan's second goal tonight.  I wouldn't mind sitting him down for a game before the season is out and giving Michaelson or Ryan Reilly another chance on that fourth line.
  • Mike Reilly is an incredibly exciting hockey player.  I'd like for him to do a little more hitting on the defensive end, but when he's got the puck on his stick he is just a joy to watch.
Okay that's all for now, gotta go to bed.  Congrats to the Gophers on the B1G regular season title!  One out of three banners so far!  Now go get the other two!

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