Gophers dodge sweep in season opener

After getting shut out in Friday’s game, Minnesota bounced back to tie the second.

Gophers dodge sweep in season opener

Max Sanders

In the first game of the 2009-10 regular season, the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team looked overmatched, outworked and outplayed against their archrivals. Perhaps still fazed over last yearâÄôs sweep in the same arena, the No. 9 Gophers opened the year with a chance for redemption but quickly found out the No. 4 Sioux were more interested in providing Minnesota with another sound defeat in Engelstad Arena, shutting out the Gophers 4-0. From the opening drop of the puck, North Dakota played a more physical, aggressive and anticipatory style of play than the Gophers. âÄúI felt that at times we werenâÄôt anticipating the next move on the rink; we were watching and then reacting, rather than anticipating from an offense or defense [standpoint],âÄù Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. âÄúWhen you do that, all of a sudden you seem like youâÄôre a step off all night long.âÄù Perhaps no statistic better illustrated the SiouxâÄôs dominance in the game than faceoffs. North Dakota held a 42-26 edge in that category , and Lucia saw that as one of the keys to the game. âÄúIf you donâÄôt start with the puck, then youâÄôre chasing all night, and it just seemed like thatâÄôs what we were doing most of the night,âÄù Lucia said. While the Minnesota front line was supposed to be one of their strengths, Jordan Schroeder , Jay Barriball and Mike Hoeffel failed to produce any chemistry âÄî or points âÄî in the first game. âÄúThey need to be better and our whole team needs to be better,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúI donâÄôt think we played to the level you need to play if youâÄôre going to beat a good team.âÄù Clearly not pleased with his teamâÄôs efforts Friday night, Lucia made several lineup changes prior to the Saturday game. Out was goalie Alex Kangas . Gone from the first line were Schroeder and Barriball. Sophomore defenseman Sam Lofquist was held out of the Saturday game due to injury. One of the lineup moves made an immediate impact in the second game. Sent from the first to third line, Barriball responded in the first period of play. After stealing the puck, Barriball skated the length of the ice and fired a shot that found the top right of the net, giving the Gophers their first goal of the series and their first lead. The story of game two was penalty play. Of the six goals scored in the second game, four came during advantages. The first of those four came just minutes after the Barriball score. North Dakota took advantage on a power play of its own, with defenseman Chay Genoway scoring, erasing MinnesotaâÄôs early lead. Four minutes after his first score, Genoway found the net again, scoring on yet another Sioux power play. His second goal gave North Dakota its first lead of the night. The Gophers responded halfway through the second period when they were down a man during another Sioux power play. Hoeffel took a perfect pass from sophomore Taylor Matson , and fired a shot from just left of center, tying the game at two. In the third, Hoeffel added to his goal total, scoring off an assist from junior Patrick White and senior Ryan Flynn , giving the Gophers a one-goal lead and a chance at a crucial two points. Minnesota was unable to hold on to the lead as North DakotaâÄôs Jake Marto tied the game on a wrist shot off a pass from senior Darcy Zajac with seven minutes remaining. With just more than a minute left in regulation, Marto made a game-saving stop for the Sioux. After goalie Brad Eidsness ventured too far out, the goal was left wide open and Marto leapt in front and blocked a put back attempt by Hoeffel. âÄúThere was an open net,âÄù Hoeffel said. âÄúIt was a little out of my reach, but I just managed to get a little something on it, but their defenseman went down on one knee and made a great stop.âÄù The game headed to overtime, where after five minutes neither team scored, giving each team a point on the 3-3 tie. Lucia was much more pleased with his teamâÄôs effort Saturday. âÄúWe were more physical tonight,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWhen youâÄôre more physical, you knock people off the puck, and then youâÄôre [going to] create turnovers and scoring chances on your own.âÄù Outstanding for the Gophers was sophomore goalie Kent Patterson . Lucia said he had planned all along to split this series between Kangas and Patterson, and after making 31 saves Saturday night, that will likely continue. âÄúThatâÄôs kind of a week-by-week [decision], but obviously Kent, the way he played tonight, earned himself more playing time,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúThatâÄôs the way it should be, performance should dictate play.âÄù Minnesota has little time to rebound from this series. They host their first home series of the year next weekend against current-No. 3 Denver, who split its series this weekend against Ohio State.