Update: Gophers come from behind to tie 2-2 in overtime, remember tomorrow’s game is at 6 pm. Here’s an interesting stat. The Gophers only had two powerplay chances in the game’s first two periods. Meanwhile, the official scorers gave Ryan Stoa and David Fischer both assists on Schroeder’s goal in the second. Anyways, Jay Barriball scored his fourth goal of the season to tie it at 2-2, but neither team could sound light the lamp again as the Gophers head to their third overtime of the season. Shots are 36-34 in favor of Minny, OT is on the fly and short. Second period: Taylor Matson had a strong showing in the second period with two chances in the first half of the stanza. First, Matson picked off a Wildcats pass for an unsuccessful, partial breakaway and then around the 13:00 mark a streaking one-timer was prevented by some strong defensive stickwork by UNH. My only comment on Matson…shot placement. He had plenty of time to either place a shot in any of the corners or make a move and his angle toward the net was not one that limited his options. But instead, Matson put a shot right on Brian Foster’s midsection. Easy save. However Foster wasn’t so lucky when he had to save a deflection off his own player. Jordan Schroeder took the puck down low with just over 6 minutes left in the period, and sent the puck towards the net hoping one of his teammates would be there to clean up. Instead the puck bounced off UNH defenseman Joe Charlebois and into the net. LeBlanc made it 2-1 with a slapshot blast that beat Kangas low on the stick side. Jerry Pollastrone assisted on the goal at 18:25. Minnesota leads 26-22 in shots on goal. Sidenote: I had a message left for me in the office earlier this week that I unfortunately wasn’t able to receive in time. It was in regards to a showing of “Pond Hockey” – a locally-made documentary that was showing at the Oak Street Cinema last Wednesday. Obviously, I didn’t get a chance to go, but everything I’ve read about it sounds pretty positive. The film comes out on DVD in November, so keep your eyes open because it features a lot of Minnesota talent. First period: What started off looking like one of the Gophers best performances of the season turned sour somewhere along the line as the first period ended with New Hampshire leading 1-0. Minnesota started the game looking sharp, making use of every foot of the rink with long passes that went tape to tape. Sam Lofquist and R.J. Anderson even tapped two shots off the post. But the second half of the first period wasn’t nearly as pretty for Minnesota. Alex Kangas appears to have what I can only describe as an off night. I say that because he’s never really had one, and after only giving up one goal, how do you say someone is playing poorly. The Rochester native gave up two or three great rebound chances that the Wildcats simply couldn’t put away including one that was only stopped by the stick of a diving Kangas. And that crisp passing from early? Well it somewhat disapeared later in the period, and the David Fischer’s late scoring chance with an open net was blocked by a diving Wildcats defenseman. UNH’s goal came in messy fashion. After Kangas kick-saved the intitial shot into the air and into a crowd, the rebound came bouncing towards the crease,bounced off of Phil DeSimone’s glove, then off his stick and into the net. The play was reviewed and the goal was upheld. James van Riemsdyk added the single assist to push his yearly total to 8 points – a team high. It’s a pretty clean game with only two penalties called thus far, both against UNH. The Wildcats lead 15-14 in shots on goal. Exactly a week after MSU goalie Mike Zacharias lost his helmet and took a stick to the forehead, Kangas took a slapshot off the mask in the period. Luckily, the referee whistled to end the action immediately. Pregame:
Got to Mariucci extremely early tonight, so I figured I’d have an extended pregame blog.
Big news out of Boston last night former Gophers forward Blake Wheeler changes his number from 42 to 26 to honor other former Gophers Phil Kessel and Thomas Vanek and then promptly turned in a hat trick peformance in the Bruins 5-2 win over Toronto. Wheeler only had three goals going into the game. One fan was apparently so thrilled, they threw a bra on the ice to celebrate the accomplishment.
Speaking of Kessel, Phil’s younger brother Blake skates as a defenseman for the Wildcats. Earlier this week, Gophers coach Don Lucia was full of praise for the younger Kessel, but said Minnesota did not attempt to recruit him.
New Hampshire lost quite a bit of depth from last season as did Minnesota (but we all have heard that story: lot of guys left, lot of guys came in so I’ll say you the reading). The Wildcats meanwhile lost their two top scorers in Matt Fornataro and Mike Radja. Fornataro finished fourth in Hockey East rankings with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) and Radja was sixth with 43 (19,24). They also lost Hobey Baker Award Finalist Kevin Regan in goal. Regan led the league in save percentage (.930) and was barely beat out in goals against average (2.21) by BC’s John Muse, who had 2.20.
On Wednesday, Lucia said he was considering making some lineup changes this weekend, but tonight there’s only a single small change. Ryan Flynn was dropped from the Gophers second line to the third while Patrick White took his place with Tony Lucia around Mike Carman.. Other than the lineup is the same as it has been all season. I’d guess Lucia wants to look at New Hampshire tonight and perhaps make some moves tomorrow night. Here is the lineup for Minnesota:
Kangas starting with Patterson and Kremer both dressed to backup.