Wedged between two convincing sweeps in late October and early November is one of MinnesotaâÄôs more unsightly weekends. There was border rival Wisconsin, without seven of its top eight scorers âÄî including Hobey Baker award winner Blake Geoffrion âÄî from its 2010 NCAA runner-up team. Minnesota had scored nine goals against Colorado College the previous Saturday. The 9,689 gathered at Mariucci Arena were fired up. The Gophers were not.
Frustration and desperation proved an explosive cocktail Saturday night at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers were badly in need of WCHA wins. Denver, chasing its second-straight MacNaughton Cup, was on the heels of a tight, 2-1 win Friday night.
Jay Barriball reached 150 career games and 125 career points a weekend ago against Minnesota-Duluth. But a lower body injury knocked him from SaturdayâÄôs game, and as of Wednesday afternoon it was unclear whether he will take the ice for number 151 this weekend or next.
Quiet fundraising yielded to public spectacle Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium, as current and former Gophers baseball players and coaches lobbied potential donors for the remaining $3.5 million needed to begin construction on a replacement for dilapidated, unusable Siebert Field.
Apparently, a Wisconsinite defecting to play hockey at the University of Minnesota is a near-mortal sin. ItâÄôs so rare that Nate Condon, a freshman from Wausau, is just the third player in Gophers history to hail from across the St. Croix River. And you better believe he got plenty of grief for it. âÄúIâÄôve got a lot of family, grandparents and everything that have graduated from [the University of Wisconsin,] Madison,âÄù Condon said. âÄúI got quite a bit [of flack].âÄù
Entering the weekend, there didnâÄôt seem to be much question. Minnesota Duluth was 12-2-2, tops in the WCHA, No. 2 in the land. The Gophers were barely above .500 overall, below it in the WCHA and still licking the open wounds of being swept by a different in-state team. Best college hockey team in Minnesota? The Bulldogs. Easy. Done. End of story.
The University of Minnesota has always boasted one of the top hockey programs in the country, and this season is no different. On second thought, yes it is.
MANKATO, Minn. âÄî In its first four road games this season, the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team scored 23 goals, never fewer than four and as many as nine against Colorado College, the programâÄôs biggest offensive outburst since 2005. Then the Gophers met Phil Cook. Minnesota StateâÄôs sophomore goaltender had the gall to stand up to MinnesotaâÄôs obnoxiously productive traveling offense, stopping 82 of 85 shots as the Mavericks swept the two-game series in Mankato, 3-2 and 2-1.
Road sweet road. ItâÄôs been nearly a fortnight since the Gophers were up in friendly Houghton scoring ten goals in two games and sweeping Michigan Tech; over a month since they cozied up in sunny Colorado Springs and blew out Colorado College on consecutive evenings. So thank goodness for this weekendâÄôs trip to Minnesota State. Finally, home-weary, 17th-ranked Minnesota âÄî 4-5-1 at Mariucci Arena âÄî can again build on its spotless road record.
The WCHA asserted its dominance in a Thanksgiving weekend stuffed full of non-conference matchups. Conference teams went 8-2-2 against a collection of teams from the CCHA, Hockey East and Alantic Hockey Association.
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