Okposo takes home WCHA Rookie of the Week honors for the second time

Five Gophers have been selected to play on the U.S. National Junior Team.

by Mark Remme

Two Colorado College teammates and one Minnesota freshman earned this week’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association individual honors.

Tigers sophomore center Chad Rau and senior defenseman Lee Sweatt took home WCHA Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively, and Gophers freshman center Kyle Okposo was named WCHA Rookie of the Week.

Rau had a hand in both game-winning goals as Colorado College swept Denver in a home-and-home series this weekend, while Sweatt netted two power-play goals and boasted a +5 plus/minus rating against the Pioneers.

Okposo netted a goal in both Minnesota’s win and tie against Minnesota State-Mankato last weekend, including a highlight-reel score, where he put the puck and his stick between his legs, beating sophomore goalie Mike Zacharias.

He also extended his active points streak to ten games.

“It was a nice honor,” Okposo said. “A lot of guys I’m sure deserve it throughout the league, so it was certainly an honor to me. I just want to keep playing well.”

Five Gophers selected

The U.S. National Junior Team’s roster will include five current members of Minnesota’s men’s hockey team during winter break.

Three freshmen, centers Mike Carman and Kyle Okposo along with defenseman Erik Johnson, will join sophomore goalie Jeff Frazee and sophomore forward Ryan Stoa on the team.

The Gophers’ five members are the most out of any college hockey team in the nation.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” coach Don Lucia said. “It’s probably – other than the Olympics – the best hockey tournament in the world.”

The five players will participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship held in Leksands and Mora, Sweden, between Dec. 26, 2006 and Jan. 5, 2007.

C.C. sweeps in-state rival

Heading into the final weekend of play before a two-week break, Colorado College seems to have found the winning formula.

The Tigers rolled through their past eight games on a 7-1-0 tear, including last weekend’s sweep over intrastate rival, No. 8 Denver.

After beginning the year 3-4-1, Colorado College looked to be floundering as a team. Now, they exude confidence and are ranked No. 9 in the latest polls.

Tech loses two

Heading into its first weekend series against No. 1 Minnesota, Michigan Tech must rely on the distinct home-ice advantage it held early on this season.

The Huskies began the year 4-0-2 at home, but quickly fell from grace last weekend as red-hot St. Cloud State swept them at MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Michigan Tech fell 4-1 on Friday and 3-2 in overtime Saturday.

Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell said his team’s performance Saturday was a step up from the three-goal loss Friday. His Huskies out-shot No. 10 St. Cloud State 29-13 in the second and third periods.

But St. Cloud State senior netminder Bobby Goepfert shut the door, steering away 35 of 37 shots on goal in the game.

“We turned it around Saturday night,” Russell said. “Goepfert was just outstanding.”