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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Special teams on full display vs. Michigan schools

DANN ARBOR, Mich. –
Despite being unranked as a team going into the College Hockey Showcase over the weekend, Minnesota’s men’s hockey team featured the sixth-ranked power play in the nation with a 24.5 success percentage.

Friday in East Lansing, Mich., Michigan State got a first-hand taste of the Gophers’ penalty attack. Minnesota was 3-for-7 with the man advantage and rattled off an astounding 20 power-play shots on Spartans’ freshman goaltender Dominic Vicari.

However, Vicari held down Minnesota considerably well, letting in only three goals on 41 shots. Finally when the Gophers reached their coveted fourth goal, they did so in full strength.

“I thought it was real important we got that fourth goal,” Lucia said. “Then we put the game away, we don’t let it get 3-2.”

Freshman Mike Vannelli saw ample time on the ice during power-play sequences, and he was able to make an impact offensively.

After scoring his first career goal one week earlier against Michigan Tech, Vannelli had his first multi-point game by registering two assists against the Spartans.

His first assist came 4:49 into the second period on a shot that bounced off Vicari’s shin pad, right to forward Tyler Hirsch, who scored the easy goal. The second assist was a lot prettier, as Minnesota moved the puck all over the offensive zone before Vannelli fed Thomas Vanek near the net. Vanek then found senior Matt Koalska for the score.

“There are so many talented guys out there that I just try to move the puck around and make a play,” Vannelli said.

Following the long minutes spent on the power play Friday, Lucia was slightly concerned that those players might be fatigued for Saturday’s game against Michigan.

Luckily for him, that didn’t appear to be the case as the Gophers won 4-2 despite going 0-for-3 on the power play.

But Saturday, the Gophers saw the other side of special teams play.

Some players got extended ice time on the penalty kill when Chris Harrington and Keith Ballard both drew penalty whistles late in the second period.

In the five-on-three, Koalska, sophomore P.J. Atherton and freshman Jake Taylor stymied the Wolverines’ attack for the final minute of the period. The standout play from the two young defensemen drew praise from Lucia.

“I thought Jake and P.J. were great (Saturday),” Lucia said. “They did a great job getting in lanes and blocking shots. With (Harrington and Ballard) in the box, it was Jake and P.J. that were both killing for us.”

In addition to the pair, goaltender Kellen Briggs made several saves during the shorthanded sequence. The freshman, who earned the first two-win weekend of his career, said that he is seeing the action unroll in front of him better, and is reacting faster.

More importantly, he has allowed only three goals in his last three starts.

“That’s the critical save that we weren’t getting a month ago,” Lucia said. “Now we’re starting to get it.”

Badgers also prevail

The WCHA went undefeated against CCHA teams this weekend at the College Hockey Showcase as Wisconsin also defeated Michigan and Michigan State.

On Saturday, the Badgers took the Spartans into overtime before winning 2-1 on a Jeff Likens goal.

Wisconsin has a 10-game unbeaten streak.

The weekend also marked the first time in the Showcase’s history that the Wolverines lost both games.

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