Meyer leads hot St. Cloud into Wisconsin

Josh Linehan

Despite going 8-2 since the Christmas break, the Minnesota men’s hockey team is not the hottest team in the WCHA.
That distinction belongs to St. Cloud State, which has gone a blistering 8-0-2 during the same time frame.
Now the Huskies face their largest test of the season to date — they head to Madison to face the top-ranked Badgers this weekend.
If St. Cloud is to continue its undefeated march up the league standings, it will need another stellar performance from goaltender Scott Meyer.
Meyer, who wasn’t even the Huskies’ starter when the season began, has led the Huskies into WCHA and national contention.
The White Bear Lake native has stopped an impressive 131 of 133 shots over his last four games, good for a .984 save percentage. And the two goals he allowed both came when the other team’s net was empty.
He made a season-high 44 saves in last Friday’s 3-0 shutout of North Dakota, also tying a record with his fifth shutout of the season. He leads the league in both goals-against and save percentage.
The clash of teams above them only helps the Gophers — for now. With Wisconsin and St. Cloud playing each other, as well as North Dakota hosting Alaska-Anchorage, all the teams ahead of Minnesota are playing each other — all except Colorado College, which visits Mariucci this weekend.
Minnesota, in essence, controls its own destiny with four series to play and only four points out of third.
And though controlling its own destiny means Minnesota must win, the team is happy with the current scenario, compared to other years.
“It does feel good,” junior wing Aaron Miskovich said. “But controlling your own destiny just means you have to come out and take care of business.”
Coach Don Lucia said he feels the team is coming together and getting ready to play its best hockey when it counts.
“We certainly feel we have a better chance than the last couple years. I think they ended up in some situations where they had to play desperate hockey this time of year, and that’s tough to do,” Lucia said.
Far from playing desperate hockey, Lucia has built a solid young team, a team which has improved its record every month of the season thus far. If Minnesota can play better in February than it did in March, the Gophers could be one of the hottest teams in the country come playoff time.
Senior forward Dave Spehar, who injured his foot blocking a shot in Duluth last weekend, skated with the team Wednesday.
X-rays on the foot were at first inconclusive but ultimately proved to be negative. Spehar is expected to skate this weekend, leaving the Gophers with one of their healthiest squads of the season.

Josh Linehan covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]