Gophers sweep St. Cloud State

At the conclusion of the Minnesota men’s hockey team’s 2-1 win over St. Cloud State on Saturday, the Battle Hym of the Republic was played signifying the team’s first sweep over a Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent in almost a year. “It’s been awhile, too long,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “That’s a great sound.” After opening the season with a 3-2 win Friday night at the National Hockey Center, the Gophers returned home to Mariucci Arena to complete the first conference sweep since November 9-10 of last year when the team swept Minnesota State in another home and home series. “We didn’t have too many of these last year,” junior forward Jay Barriball said. “Obviously, it helps the confidence of the whole team.” Barriball found a confidence boost of his own in Saturday’s game when he picked up the eventual game-winning goal – something he didn’t have too many of last year although with six goals he returned as Minnseota’s leading point getter. Freshman forward Jordan Schroeder picked up his third assist of the season when he found an open Barriball in front of the net. After showing patience that one would assume Barriball had lost after his point production fell so dramatically from his freshman to sophomore seasons, the Prior Lake native calmly waited for the puck to bounce from his skate to his stick before tallying his first goal of the season. He then went crazy. “There was a lot of anger from some goals that weren’t scored in the past,” Barriball said. “I felt real good; I had to let out a big [celebration].” Barriball wasn’t the only junior that came up big for Minnesota this weekend. Forwards Ryan Stoa and Mike Carman tallied a goal and an assist in Friday’s game; Carman scored again on Saturday while Stoa’s score in the series conclusion was waved off when officials said he moved his leg to deflect the puck in off his shin. Both Carman and Stoa missed the WCHA opening series last year when the Gophers were swept at Colorado College. Minnesota lost again two weeks later to Denver in the team’s worst conference start under Don Lucia. The team’s difficult schedule this season – this weekend’s series with St. Cloud State followed by a road series with Wisconsin next weekend – had Lucia concerned of a reoccurence before the sweep. “We could dig ourselves a hole again, but now we’ve got two in the bank.” Junior forwards Tony Lucia and Ryan Flynn each tallied a goal over the weekend meaning every scorer for the Gophers was a member of the junior class. Notes: Junior defenseman David Fischer was scratched with an injury Saturday and is listed as day-to-day. The team is not disclosing the injury. Freshman Sam Lofquist took Fischer’s spot on the roster. The Gophers were 2-for-13 on the power-play, but held the Huskies to just 1-for-16. Stoa’s goal Friday night came in a short-handed situation while Carmen’s came just seconds after he got out of the box. “I actually told the guy [in the box] that it’d be nice to get a breakaway and get a goal.”