Men’s hockey pregame: Minnesota vs. North Dakota

Max Sanders

Almost 24 hours after a thorough 4-0 drumming at the hands of North Dakota, Minnesota looks to rebound and salvage a split in its first regular season series of the 2009-10 season.

Gophers head coach Don Lucia has made several lineup changes in hopes of providing a spark to a Minnesota team that looked and played flat for most of the regular season opener yesterday.

With no further ado, your starting lineups:

Minnesota:

Left Wing-Mike Hoeffel

Center-Patrick White

Right Wing-Ryan Flynn

Left Defense-Nick Leddy

Right Defense- David Fischer

Goalie-Kent Patterson

 

The first surprising move of the 2009-10 Gophers regular season is at the first line, specifically the center position. Sophomore assistant captain Jordan Schroeder has been removed from the first line, perhaps due to the major struggles of the line in yesterdays game. The Schroeder-Hoeffel-Carman line simply showed no chemistry, and Lucia responded by moving Schroeder to the third line. It remains to be seen if the move of Schroeder to the third line is permanent, but regardless Lucia is clearly sending the message that no one on this team is safe in any spot of the lineup, stars included. For tonight’s game the first line is two-thirds different than last night’s, with Mike Hoeffel the only holdover on the line at the left wing position. Joining Hoeffel is Patrick White, the talented yet under-performing junior, and captain Ryan Flynn, who was involved in several altercations during last night’s contest.

At goalie, yet another Lucia move, as Alex Kangas is benched in favor of sophomore Kent Patterson. While Kangas did perform admirably, he did allow four goals, and while Lucia praised Kangas for his efforts yesterday, it is clear he thought a change needed to be made if for nothing else, to spark this Gophers team.

Other major moves include freshman Josh Birkholz, who was benched and replaced in the lineup by sophomore Joe Miller. Senior Jay Barriball suffered a similar fate as Schroeder, and was moved by Lucia from the first to third line. Joining Schroeder and Barriball on the third line is senior Mike Carman.

 

The defense remains mostly intact, the only change of note being Sam Lofquist. The sophomore who played on the third blueline was replaced in the lineup by junior Kevin Wehrs.

 

For North Dakota, their lineup remains intact, as to be expected after easily crusing through last night.

Left Wing-Jason Gregoire

Center-Chris VandeVelde

Right Wing-Danny Kristo

Left Defense-Ben Blood

Right Defense-Chay Genoway

Goalie-Brad Eidsness

 

The Sioux are looking to sweep the Gophers and improve to 4-0, which would be their best start since the 2002-03 season. A key to last night’s success, and the key for North Dakota tonight is sophomore goalie and last night’s first-star Brad Eidsness. Eidsness had 22 saves in his first home shut-out, and his solid play allowed the Sioux to take more chances, knowing they had a steady presence between the pipes.

 

Despite this only being the second regular season game for the Gophers, it clearly has the feel of a post-season game. By the lineup moves made by Lucia, he is sending the message that every one of his 26 players better start performing, or they will be moved down, or out, of the lineup. It will be interesting to see how this game unfolds, and if the lineup changes are enough for Minnesota to escape from Engelstad Arena with points, or if the losing-streak at North Dakota will be pushed to four.

 

Western Collegiate Hockey Association Standings:

 

1) Colorado College-2 points (2-1-0, 1-0-0 in conference)

    Minnesota Duluth-2 points (2-1-0, 1-0-0 in conference)

    North Dakota-2 points (2-1-0, 1-0-0 in conference)

4) Alaska Anchorage-0 points (2-1-0, 0-0-0 in conference)

    Denver-0 points (2-2-0, 0-0-0 in conference)

    Michigan Tech-0 points (1-1-0, 0-0-0 in conference)

    St. Cloud State-0 points (0-2-1, 0-0-0 in conference)

    Minnesota-0 points (0-1-0, 0-1-0 in conference)

    Minnesota State-0 points (2-1-0, 0-1-0 in conference)

    Wisconsin-0 points (0-1-0, 0-1-0 in conference)