>COLORADO SPRINGS – No.10 Colorado College picked up its first sweep over the Minnesota men’s hockey team since December 2005 this weekend at the World Arena.
The Tigers slipped by 3-1 on Friday night and edged Minnesota 2-1 in overtime Saturday night leaving the Gophers swept on the road for the first time since 2004.
what: Men’s Hockey
when: 7:07 p.m., Thursday
where: Mariucci Arena
Minnesota’s biggest hindrance was the team’s inability to convert on power plays.
The No. 3 Gophers (2-2-0 overall, 0-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) were blanked on the advantage this weekend, going 0-for-11 in the series.
Since sophomore forward Kyle Okposo’s power-play goal two weeks ago in the win over RPI, Minnesota has gone 15-straight power plays without finding the back of the net.
“We’ve got to get better at it,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said when asked about the team’s power-play performance.
How does Minnesota plan on improving the special teams play before next Thursday’s meeting with Ohio State?
“Practice really Ö We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of experience,” Lucia said. “We’ll get better with more work and I think when you have a chance to go home, sometimes your power play feels more comfortable at home than on the road.”
Junior forward Blake Wheeler didn’t have an explanation for the team’s struggles when on the advantage, but he did say that personnel isn’t the problem.
“I think we’ve got the right guys out there, we’ve just got to put the puck in the net,” Wheeler said. “The guys on the power-play just have to bear down and work hard and put the puck in the net, that’s all there is to it.”
At one point in Saturday’s finale, the Tigers’ penalty-killing unit clearly dominated the ice with a pair of scoring chances when it should have been trying to just clear the puck out of the defensive zone.
A Colorado College breakaway attempt went just wide of the net, while seconds later a 2-on-0, which would have given the Tigers the game-winning goal, was broken up only by a spectacular save from junior goalie Jeff Frazee.
Meanwhile, the Tigers (2-0-0, 2-0-0) had no problem converting power-play chances – going two for nine in the two-game series.
“They out-everythinged us,” sophomore forward Kyle Okposo said after the Gophers’ first loss Friday night.
Okposo was abnormally quiet over the weekend as was the Minnesota offense that was supposed to be a goal-scoring dynamo this season.
The Gophers tallied just two goals in the series although they did amass an impressive 63 shots on goal.
Unfortunately, Minnesota had to deal with the stellar play of freshman Richard Bachman in goal for the Tigers.
Playing more like a veteran than a first-year netminder, Bachman came up big on the few scoring opportunities that the Tigers’ defense allowed over the weekend allowing just two goals in two games.
Along with the rest of the Minnesota squad, Frazee made strides of improvements in net from Friday to Saturday night.
The Gophers goalkeeper allowed just two goals on 27 shots in Saturday’s loss after giving up three goals on 24 the previous night.
Frazee said he felt more in control Saturday, and just like last weekend, goaltending kept both teams in the hunt according to Lucia.
“It easily could have been 5-5 at the end of regulation; both goalies were outstandingÖ” Lucia said. “It just seemed like any time somebody got an opportunity, the goalie was there to make the save.”