Gophers men’s hockey quotes

Derek Wetmore

After Friday night’s 5-3 victory over Massachusetts, the chatter around the locker room was primarily positive. It was an odd game in which special teams played a huge role, a trainer’s visit to the ice to check in on goaltender Alex Kangas, and the Gophers once-dormant power play came to life.

Here’s what team members had to say post-game Friday:

–“We scored five goals, can’t complain about that,” sophomore Zach Budish — who had three points on the night — said. “We’ve been working on power play quite a bit the first few weeks here, that’s a huge thing for us because special teams really wins you games, it was good to get a couple power play goals tonight.”

Minnesota commited eight penalties though, and while it’s penalty kill looked good, Budish said he’d prefer they didn’t continue making trips to the box.

–“We just have to move our feet and finish bodies. We can’t have the hooking and slashing penalties. We had too many penalties tonight but the penalty kill bailed us out tonight,” he said.

Head coach Don Lucia spoke to that as well.

–“We gave up a couple of power play goals tonight, so we have to stay out of the box. We can’t play that much of a game shorthanded,” he said.

–He added: “We talked about discipline and I thought that first five minute major was the key one because you want to get off to a good start. Poor Nick, the second shift of his college career and he’s a big, strong guy, he mows over a guy, but that’s a good teachable moment. You have to wrap a guy and carry him into the boards.”

–“It’s great that we could start off with a couple power play goals tonight. Without those power play goals, we tie or lose. It was just nice that when they’d score, we were able to get separation goals. Those were important tonight.”

–In response to the severity of Kangas’ possible injury late in the second period:

“It wasn’t a knee or an ankle or anything, he just got banged up. He certainly looked fine and played the third period. He gave us an opportunity to win the game. He made a lot of nice saves. UMass is a good team, they can really skate. The thing that really impressed me how they transitioned up and down the ice…It can be good and bad when you get into the season and know you can count on your goaltender to make some big saves. Like an old friend used to say, that’s why he’s on scholarship too. He made the saves he needed to make. We touched on him, but he’s got to be that type of player for us this year.”

On his freshman defensemen:

“We talked to our young defensemen and told them that we’re not concerned with offense from them right now. We want them to concentrate on playing defense more than anything else. Offense is a bonus especially early in the season. You can make a good play, but then you can also get caught in too deep and that’s what happened on their third goal.”

Seth Helgeson scored a goal on his 20th birthday:

“Nice birthday for him,” Lucia said,  “He got a goal on his birthday. I thought Seth did what we wanted him to do, he played a physical game, killed penalties. We’ve got the four returning defensemen, they have to take command and take the young guys under their wing.”

“I thought we did a good job with the forecheck and keeping our feet moving. We made the mistake to give up that third goal. That was by a young kid that tried to do a little bit too much in that situation. That’s a great teaching moment.”

Senior captain Jay Barriabll scored the first goal of the season for the Gophers. Here is what Lucia said he expects of the fifth-year forward.

“[He will be] scoring big goals and that’s what he did for us tonight. It was nice for all the rehab that he did and all the work he put in last year, to score the first goal of the season, getting us off on a good note tonight.”

Barriball  was quick to note the balanced scoring attack:

“That’s what we’re going to need all year. We’ve got a lot of freshman and we’ve got a lot of young guys and the team. We’re going to need them contributing every night. It’s the old guys’ job to lead every night but if we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to have [the young] guys chipping in a little bit. That’s what they did tonight and that’s what we expect from them,” he said.

On special teams:

“We’ve got to put an emphasis on that – especially our power play. It wasn’t very good last year and so far it’s looked better this year and that’s a good sign,”

On the number of penalties:

“We just have to be smart. Outwork guys, you don’t need to clutch and grab and stuff like that but you’re going to take some penalties as a team, you just have to come together and kill those penalties

On the chemistry of the top line:

“We’ve only been playing with each other for a week or two now, but with Hoef you know what you’re going to get – he’s got a good shot. He’s always going to get his goals. And Haula stepping in, he’s going to be a big part of this team. The guy is a great playmaker and I’m excited to play with those two from here on out.”

On Holl’s goal:

“Justin made a great play. That’s a great play for a defenseman to step up [in the zone], it was a snipe. That’s what you get once these guys get more comfortable, they’ll start making more plays.  Seth’s goal was a great birthday present. We knew he was going to be a big part of the team this year and he’s going to step up. It’s good for him to get his confidence with that goal early”