Miskovich helps stifle ‘Line of Fire’

by David La

When his coaches told him he’d spend a weekend on the firing line, Minnesota’s Aaron Miskovich went willingly, shunning the customary cigarette and blindfold.
The senior forward led the Gophers’ staunch defensive effort against North Dakota’s “Line of Fire” — Jeff Panzer, Bryan Lundbohm and Ryan Bayda — the top three scorers in the WCHA.
Miskovich and company extinguished the Line of Fire on Saturday, holding the trio pointless for only the second time this season.
Panzer’s assist on Lundbohm’s shorthanded goal Friday were the only points managed by the group.
“I thought Miskovich was part of Jeff Panzer’s pants tonight,” Fighting Sioux coach Dean Blais said Saturday. “We couldn’t get free of Miskovich’s line.”
Accustomed to playing wing on one of Minnesota’s scoring lines, Miskovich centered the Gophers third line on both nights with gusto.
“I actually enjoyed the challenge,” Miskovich said. “You take pride in the job you did. We did exactly what we were asked to do all weekend. They didn’t score a goal.”
Miskovich’s impact wasn’t solely based on his defensive play.
Entering the weekend as the current Gophers’ scoring leader versus North Dakota with 12 points, Miskovich scored Minnesota’s lone goal on Friday. He added a shorthanded, empty-net goal and one assist Saturday.
The shorthanded goal tied Miskovich with Paul Broten for most career shorthanded goals (10).
“I told him at the end of (Saturday’s) game he was our MVP this weekend,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “He was very unselfish all weekend.”
Unfortunately for Miskovich, his stellar weekend ended with a game disqualification for fighting with eight seconds left.
Miskovich was ejected and will be forced to miss Minnesota’s first game at Wisconsin next weekend.
Gophers win Classic
Minnesota won the 10th annual Mariucci Classic on Dec. 29-30, defeating Union 3-2 and Lake Superior State 5-4. The Gophers Jordan Leopold and Johnny Pohl joined tournament MVP Erik Westrum on the all-tournament team. The win gave Minnesota its fifth title.
On the strength of his one goal, two assist performance at the Classic, forward Grant Potulny earned a share of WCHA rookie of the week honors.
Gophers sweep Seawolves
Two weeks ago, Minnesota earned its first sweep at Alaska-Anchorage since the 1996-97 season, winning 3-1 and 4-2.
Pohl was named WCHA offensive player of the week after netting three goals and two assists versus the Seawolves.
World Junior Championships
Minnesota’s Paul Martin, Troy Riddle and Jeff Taffe helped the United States to a fifth-place finish at the World Junior Championships Dec. 26 – Jan. 5.
Taffe tallied eight points in seven games, including a hat trick against Kazakstan. His total of six goals tied for the team lead.
Riddle notched one assist while Martin added three.
The trio missed the Mariucci Classic and the Alaska-Anchorage series.