Goaltender helps to stonewall Gophers in Duluth

Chris Lempesis

DULUTH – As bad as Minnesota’s men’s hockey team made things for itself by playing unevenly throughout its weekend series with Duluth, Bulldogs goaltender Isaac Reichmuth made things even worse.

The senior, time after time, came up with the big save – he made 72 for the series – and continued to frustrate the Gophers as he has done throughout his career. By earning a win and a tie over Minnesota this weekend, Reichmuth improved his overall mark against the Gophers to 7-2-1.

“It’s been two good weekends for him,” Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said, referencing Reichmuth’s play last weekend at Michigan Tech when he also picked up a win and a tie.

“He’s a good goaltender and a senior and he was certainly huge this weekend and probably the difference tonight.”

Reichmuth was indeed clutch in his team’s 4-3 win Saturday, especially late in the game. Although he allowed two third-period goals, Reichmuth also stopped 19 shots in the frame. Five of those saves came in a row as Minnesota had a cluster of great scoring opportunities in front of the net with about three minutes to play.

Coach Don Lucia didn’t seem surprised by Reichmuth’s play this weekend, calling his performance “outstanding.” Senior forward Gino Guyer was also impressed and said he believes Reichmuth will be an all-league performer by the end of the season.

Sophomores slumping

Coming into the season, a lot of people felt Minnesota’s large sophomore class, 10 players deep, would have to build on a largely successful freshman year for the Gophers to be a contender again. The group hasn’t done a whole lot of building so far, and that has hurt Minnesota.

As coach Lucia noted after Saturday’s 4-3 loss, the six sophomore forwards have a combined two goals for the season. The class as a group has just three goals, including none this weekend against Duluth.

“That’s killing us,” Lucia said. “That’s really hurting. Those guys, they have to Ö take a jump. They’re sophomores. They played last year and they gotta bring something to the table.”

Most surprising is the fact that sophomore forward Kris Chucko – who led all freshmen in goals last season with 10 and was a player many thought would have a break out season – has no goals through the first eight games.

Centers strong

While Minnesota’s sophomores might be struggling, the Gophers have received strong play from a pair of centers, one a freshman and the other a junior

Phil Kessel and Ryan Potulny have been among the most consistent suppliers of offense and they continued to be this weekend against the Bulldogs.

Kessel scored in each game against Duluth, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games. He has four points (three goals and an assist) during that stretch. He’s also second on the team in scoring with eight points (four goals and four assists).

Potulny, in addition to his two goals Saturday, also had an assist and now has five points (three goals and two assists) over the same three-game stretch as Kessel. He also leads the team in goals for the season (six) and total points (nine).