Lines gel for Gophers in Duluth sweep

by Sarah Mitchell

As the Minnesota men’s hockey team raised its sticks to a home crowd Saturday, Gophers coach Don Lucia breathed a sigh of relief.
His team’s sweep over the Bulldogs — a 5-3 win Friday followed by a 4-0 shutout Saturday — proved that all the line combination tinkering done in the first five weeks of the season was paying off. Minnesota (4-7-1, 3-4-1, WCHA) was getting closer to its best lines.
The Gophers’ first line of left winger Shawn Roed, right winger Nate Miller and center John Pohl more than clicked against Duluth. (4-4-0, 4-4-0) Because of their play over the weekend, the three are the first glimmer of permanence in Lucia’s lineup.
“They’ve got good chemistry on the power play and five-on-five,” Lucia said. “They’re playing against other people’s best lines, too.”
Against the Bulldogs, the trio outshined a first line that contained Duluth’s top two scorers in center Jeff Scissons (2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points) and winger Colin Anderson (5-2-6). Of the two, only Anderson had a point, scoring the first goal of the series on Friday.
Meanwhile, Roed, Miller and Pohl accounted for five of Minnesota’s nine goals and eight assists.
“I thought we had a good week of practice coming in and it carried over,” Pohl said. “Usually that’s where it is. If you practice well you play well. If you practice poorly you play poorly.”
Of the three, Pohl posed the biggest offensive threat. The sophomore recorded two goals and two assists on Friday before chiming in with one goal and one assist in the series closer.
Pohl now has 14 points on four goals and nine assists to lead Minnesota’s scorers. The sophomore is already in position to surpass last season’s 17 points.
However, Pohl doesn’t see himself as the most dangerous Gopher skating around the opposing team’s goal.
“I play with two guys who are pretty good shooters,” said Pohl of Miller and Roed. “Nate’s a big guy. Shawn’s a very, very skilled shooter. So, my job is more to just get them the puck.”
With Pohl’s help, Roed (3-6-9) and Miller (5-3-8) drive the Gophers offensively, making it hard to argue that they don’t belong together. Roed is third on the Gophers scoring chart and Miller is fourth.
Now if only finding the rest of Lucia’s lineup could be this easy.
“We have to start generating more from other lines. We’ve got to find some chemistry with other people,” Lucia said. “(Roed, Miller, and Pohl) are moving the puck well and making some nice plays. They look like they know what they are doing out there.”

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].