Gophers hit ice with second captain down

Senior Mike Howe is “doubtful” for this weekend’s series against Alaska.

Brian Deutsch

This weekend, the Minnesota men’s hockey team will likely have to do without another one of its captains – senior forward Mike Howe.

Howe suffered a concussion last Saturday during the first period of the Gophers’ 5-3 win over Minnesota State.

The St. Cloud native is listed as questionable for this weekend’s series with Alaska Anchorage although Minnesota coach Don Lucia said unlikely would be a better word for Howe’s status.

“I think it’s doubtful for the weekend. He’s not practicing today (Wednesday), so we’re not counting on him at all this weekend,” Lucia said.

Lucia did add, however, that he doesn’t see the injury keeping Howe off the ice any longer than that.

“I would be surprised if he wasn’t ready to skate full-go on Monday,” Lucia said.

Howe will join fellow team captain and junior forward Ryan Stoa as scratches due to injury.

Stoa, who underwent successful surgery on his knee on Tuesday, was injured during the second game of the season – a 4-3 win over Michigan.

Tigers on top in WCHA

Behind the award-winning performance of freshman goalie Richard Bachman, Colorado College has eclipsed Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponents to over the pole position in the conference.

Stopping 34 shots on goal, Bachman recorded his first collegiate shutout last Saturday in the Tigers’ 3-0 win over Duluth after Colorado College had already defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 the night before.

Bachman ranks first among WCHA net-minders in winning percentage (5-1-0, .833) and save percentage (.950).

“(Bachman) has come out of the gates for us really strongly,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said of his freshman goalie. “He plays so composed, like an older veteran.”

The Tigers (5-3-0, 5-1-0) are the only team in the WCHA that owns a winning conference record – and they’ve produced that winning record while playing one of the most difficult schedules in college hockey.

The team will be put to the test this weekend by Wisconsin and the WCHA’s best scoring offense come to town and then the Tigers face off with in-state rival Denver – which will more than likely be the team’s sixth-straight series against a nationally ranked opponent.

Other conference awards

Two weeks, two sweeps, and two-straight Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week awards for St. Cloud State sophomore forward Ryan Lasch.

With 17 points (eight goals and nine assists) this season, Lasch not only leads the WCHA in scoring but also the nation.

He extended his point scoring streak to six games this weekend as the Huskies swept Michigan Tech in Houghton.

Wisconsin junior net-minder Shane Connelly earned the Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after the Badgers split with North Dakota last weekend.

Connelly shutout the Sioux Friday night in Wisconsin’s 5-0 win that saw the 5-foot-9-inch, 177-pound junior stop all 43 shots on goal – the second most for a Badgers goaltender in a shutout.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said he sees similarities between Connelly and multiple school record holder Brian Elliot.

“Brian Elliott was at the same level as Shane in keeping track of guys and who’s hot and how they, you know, what’s their favorite shot or stuff like that,” Eaves said. “But Shane is probably the most detailed goalie I’ve seen in awhile in that area.”

The following night, Connelly made 31 saves in a 3-1 loss to North Dakota.