‘Terrible’ play gets better

Lou Raguse

DENVER – While Minnesota men’s hockey coach Don Lucia sat outside the locker room following Friday’s 6-2 loss to Denver, the players inside asked one another to look in the mirror and tell the rest of the team what they thought of their individual performances.

One or two players said they thought they played OK, while many others said it was the worst game of their lives.

“When you say it like that, it’s kind of embarrassing,” defenseman Chris Harrington said. “Like when it came to me, I said ‘terrible.’ And I can’t play terrible; if I play terrible, I’m letting someone else down. If someone else plays terrible, they’re letting me down.”

After being swept by Denver this weekend, Harrington said the blowout Friday reinforced that each player must stay accountable for his own play on the ice.

Although Minnesota finished Saturday’s game on the short end of a 6-3 score, the Gophers put forth a noticeably better effort.

And Lucia, sitting in the same chair outside the locker room Saturday, had no complaints with his team’s effort in the loss.

“No matter how much talent we have, no one is good enough to play for two people,” Harrington said. “So we looked in the mirror and said, ‘No matter what the outcome, we have to remain accountable for our own game.’ “

No hole in Berkhoel

Coming from behind in college hockey is especially difficult when playing against one of the best goaltenders in the WCHA.

Adam Berkhoel stopped 27 shots on Friday and another 34 on Saturday as he stifled Minnesota’s comeback bid.

“He’s the best money goaltender in the country,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “Right now I would put him against anyone. He is a clutch performer, a terrific leader and is very deserving of the accolades he’s receiving.”

Even though Minnesota got 29 and 37 shots on net, Berkhoel didn’t leave many second chances.

“He played unbelievable,” Harrington said. “He made the great saves when he had to.”

Rough series for Briggs

Minnesota goaltender Kellen Briggs had his worst weekend of the season in Denver, giving up five goals and saving only five shots in less than 30 minutes of play.

Lucia pulled Briggs in favor of Justin Johnson after the

Pioneers’ third goal Friday.

Lucia decided to come back with Briggs for Saturday’s game, but after Denver scored their second goal on a rebound in the first period, Johnson again replaced Briggs.

Despite his subpar weekend, Briggs spoke candidly about his performance after Saturday’s game.

“I played terrible,” Briggs said. “With two goals early, the coaches have to (pull the goaltender). I’ve had weekends like this before – I just need to put it behind me and look towards St. Cloud.”

Lucia said he’s confident Briggs will work out the kinks when the Gophers resume practice today, and he remains confident in Briggs as his goalie.

“He’s gotten us this far,” he said.

Injury alert

The Gophers had their full lineup going into the Denver series, but lost a player to injury in each game.

Forward Garrett Smaagaard left Friday’s game and will have his status evaluated today. Jon Waibel was knocked out of Saturday’s game and had X-rays performed on his arm, Lucia said.