"Thanks to all of those for their support the past two days. It means a lot. I will be hopefully back on the ice soon! #Gophers"
Redshirt sophomore Connor Reilly sent that tweet Monday night after being injured Saturday night against the Wisconsin Badgers. Head coach Don Lucia said that Reilly is out indefinitely for the Gophers, and the team's leading goal scorer will be reevaluated in about a month to see if he's capable of continuing his season.
Wisconsin redshirt freshman Corbin McGuire was given a five-minute major for delivering the hit that injured Reilly, and Monday was suspended by the Big Ten for one game. But Lucia said that McGuire should have been given a game disqualification for the knee-to-knee hit, and would support referees using replay on potential major penalties to make sure the call is made correctly.
"I’m just more of a believer: let’s get it right," Lucia said. "It does happen so quickly, and sometimes it’s hard to catch."
Lucia said he likes the system NCAA football currently uses, where targeting can be reviewed to see whether a play really did hit an opposing player in the head. Lucia said last year during the North Star College Cup senior defenseman Ben Marshall was given a major penalty for contact to the head even though he only hit the opposing player's chest. If referees were able to look at the penalty, Marshall's penalty would likely have been revoked.
In Saturday's case, Lucia said the penalty would have been given.
"In that situation, the correct call would have been a game disqualification," Lucia said. "Knee on knee is a very dangerous play."
2. Wilcox Slumping
In his first two years on campus, junior goaltender Adam Wilcox gave up less than two goals on average per game.
In his last ten games, opponents are averaging 3.5 goals per game. But like he has every time he's been asked about Wilcox, senior forward Seth Ambroz backed his netminder.
"Coxy’s fine. Coxy will be fine," Ambroz said. "Everyone hits a little rough patch. You know what, some of the goals that are being scored on him, there’s nothing he can do about them. He’s been our backbone for the past two years, and he’s going to continue to be our backbone."
Lucia acknowledged Wilcox was in a rut but laid some blame at the feet of his defense as well.
"Well, I think it’s a combination," Lucia said. "Adam would probably like to have a couple back, but, you know, we to do a better job of maybe blocking a few shots that we are in a position to do so. It could be getting the puck out in the ins and outs of the blue line when you have a chance. Like anything, it’s a team game and you all have to take part of a responsibility when you give up too many goals."
3. Blocking Shots
When asked what was the difference defensively between this year's team and last year's, both Ambroz and senior forward Travis Boyd brought up blocking shots.
"For one, I think we have to be more desperate to block shots," Ambroz said. "Last year we had so much success where we’d take a bullet for the guys next to us. Right now, the effort is not what we want it to be. A lot of pucks are getting through to Wilcox."
4. Ambroz's Strong Weekend
Ambroz is coming on the heels of a four goal weekend against the Wisconsin Badgers, and he said having the hot stick gave him a boost.
"It’s huge because the puck hasn’t been going in for me as well as I wanted it to this year so far," Ambroz said. "That’s a big spike for [my] confidence, absolutely."
With Reilly out for the foreseeable future, the Gophers will need Ambroz to continue his production, even against teams that aren't the Gophers border rival. But Boyd did say Ambroz's game was perfectly suited to tame the Badgers.
"When you play a team like Wisconsin who’s always going to be really structured and really good defensively that’s how you’re going to have to score goals against Wisconsin," Boyd said. "You’ve got to get to the net front and you’ve got to get rebounds and you’ve got to get dirty goals. And I don’t think there’s really anyone better at slapping home a dirty one than Seth."
5. Gophers Looking for Brooms
If the Gophers are going to get their season back on track, they're going to have to amount a few wins. Logically, the best way to do that would be a sweep, but the Gophers haven't come away with two wins in a weekend since the beginning of November.
"That’s huge for our team, not being able to get back-to-back wins in quite a while, or two wins in a weekend," Boyd said. "You’re not going to win that tournament, you’re not going to move on in the NCAA tournament without winning back-to-back games. It has to be done."
At home against a banged-up Ohio State team might be a good place to do that.