Wilcox takes job security into border battle

With Adam Wilcox in net, Minnesota will face a struggling Wisconsin team.

by Drew Claussen

If any questions remained about the Gophers’ starting goaltender, the team answered them this week.

Junior Michael Shibrowski sustained an injury in practice Tuesday and will be out for a couple of weeks. That means Adam Wilcox, who has started the previous six games for the Gophers (6-2-1, 3-2-1 WCHA), will continue as the main man between the pipes for the foreseeable future.

Wilcox said he’s approached each of the games with the same mentality. He split time with Shibrowski to start the season, but he’ll start both games this weekend against rival Wisconsin.

“It’s Adam’s net,” head coach Don Lucia said, “but he would have probably played both games this weekend regardless [of Shibrowski’s injury].

“He’s given us an opportunity to win every game that he’s started,” Lucia said. “He’s a confident kid.”

Shibrowski will join Sam Warning on the shelf for the Gophers. Warning will be out for at least the next two weeks.

“Then we’ll have to make a decision whether he’ll be back for those next two weeks or we just shut him down until Christmas,” Lucia said of Warning.

After a shaky couple of weeks, the Gophers seemed to get their defense on track last weekend at Alaska-Anchorage.

“The defense had a great weekend,” Wilcox said. “The biggest thing that I saw was they blocked a lot of shots. Especially the first game — I think they had about 10 to 20 blocked shots.”

Although its defense has improved, Minnesota is still struggling to score even-strength goals. The Gophers scored five of their six goals last weekend on the power play.

“We’ve kind of been sitting back a little bit,” Nate Condon said. “A lot of dumps and not controlling the puck like we can, and I think that we’ve just got to get up and get on them and make offensive-zone plays.”

Most players consider North Dakota to be Minnesota’s biggest rival in hockey, but Condon, a Wausau, Wis., native and the only player from Wisconsin on Minnesota’s roster, thinks it’s the Badgers.

“I get the normal comments [from teammates] like, ‘you’re playing against your homeland’ or ‘you’re playing against your home state,’” Condon said. “The couple weeks I’m in Wausau every year, if we lose to the Badgers, it’s all I hear about.”

The Badgers had a bye week last weekend, which was much-needed after the team’s 1-4-1 start. Before the off-weekend, Wisconsin was swept at home by Colorado College.

Wisconsin also lost assistant coach Bill Butters, who left the program Nov. 7.

Minnesota will play four games with Wisconsin this season. Half will be this weekend at Mariucci Arena, and the remaining two will be played in February at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., and at Soldier Field in Chicago.

-Betsy Helfand contributed to this report.