Barriball day-to-day as he battles injury, flu

The sophomore forward skated for the first time at Wednesday’s practice.

As if a sprained ankle wasn’t enough to potentially keep Minnesota men’s hockey sophomore forward Jay Barriball off the ice this weekend – he had to get the flu this week too.

Two weeks after limping to the locker room in the third period of a 1-1 overtime tie at Denver, Barriball is still labeled as questionable for this weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with Wisconsin.

“We have to wait and see,” coach Don Lucia said before Wednesday’s afternoon practice. “(Wednesday was) the first time he’s skated since the Friday game against Denver.”

This year, Barriball has struggled to follow up his showing as a freshman when he led the team with 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists).

But his mere presence is almost a necessity for the Gophers, who have been skating short on forwards for almost the entire year.

In 31 games this season, the sophomore has recorded 16 points (three goals, 13 assists).

Team still want home ice

Despite being in uncharted waters – ninth in the WCHA – Minnesota senior defenseman and team captain Derek Peltier isn’t giving up on his final year with the Gophers.

“We’re still hoping for home ice in the playoffs,” Peltier said. “There are six games left in the season, a lot of stuff can still happen.”

But if that dream is to become a reality, the Gophers have to turn their season around right now – there is no later.

Minnesota (12-13-7 overall, 10-10-4 WCHA) is winless in its last six games – all against conference foes – and has just three wins since coming back from winter break.

But the question still remains as to if the Gophers have enough gas left in the tank to make a final push for home ice.

“No question,” junior forward Blake Wheeler said. “We just have to execute. We definitely have the talent.”

The Gophers also had a weeklong furlough to re-energize – something both players said the team needed after running out of gas in the final game against Denver – a 4-1 loss.

Weekly awards

Michigan Tech senior forward Peter Rouleau and North Dakota junior forward Andrew Kozek had two things in common this week.

Both recorded hat-tricks over the weekend and now both have been named the WCHA Co-Offensive Players of the Week.

Rouleau had a career-best five points in the Huskies 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth on Friday night including a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal – the latter being the game-winner.

Kozek also notched the game-winning tally to clinch his hat-trick in the Sioux’s 5-4 win.

The junior tallied six points (four goals, two assists) in the two game sweep over Denver.

North Dakota also picked up the Defensive Player of the Week Award, which went to sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway.

Genoway led a Sioux defense that limited the Pioneers to fewer than 20 shots on goal in both games while adding a goal and three assists on the opposite end of the ice.

The sophomore leads all conference blue-liners with six goals this season.

St. Cloud State freshman forward Aaron Marvin earned the Rookie of the Week honors after recording three assists in the Huskies two game sweep of Alaska-Anchorage.