It’s a cliche that might be overused but is still appropriate for describing the banner crop of freshman defensemen on the Gophers men’s hockey team: bigger, stronger, faster.
Three Gophers are living up to this motto: Jordan Leopold, Nick Angell and Mark Nenovich.
Fast and smooth with the puck, Angell can also deliver a fierce check. Angell’s biggest hit of the young season came Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.
“I just dropped my stick and the guy took off on me, and it would have been a two-on-one,” Angell said. “Instead of picking my stick up I had to stay with my man. I had to stay with my check, and he turned right into me.”
Another Gopher whose presence has been felt by opposing teams is Mark Nenovich.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Nenovich delivered his share of hits, too, although the physical part of the game is still a little new to him. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
“It’s the funner part of the game,” Nenovich said. “Our coach is stressing this year that we have to be a lot more physical and wear teams down like that.”
The trio of young defensemen has been making big strides in the individual play this young season. But according to Nenovich, there is still a lot to be learned.
“We’ve been doing pretty good and have stepped up to the challenge,” Nenovich said. “We still have a lot of work to figure out. I don’t think we’re as good as we can be. There’s a lot of work to still be done.”
He’s sure got big pads
Minnesota-Duluth coach Mike Sertich and Boston College coach Jerry York have at least one thing in common.
They’ve noticed goaltender Adam Hauser’s pads.
“That’s why I like them. These guys shoot so well, I need every advantage I can get,” Hauser said. “They just came like that, I didn’t have them specially made or anything.”
The “them” in question are the “shingle” pads on top of his shoulders. They stick out about 3/4 of an inch from the shoulder pad, making the pads look much bigger.
In the NHL, players are prohibited from wearing the shingles, thanks in large part to former Philadelphia goaltender Garth Snow. The league determined the extra padding gave goalies an unfair advantage.
“The way I look at it right now, if I was in the National Hockey League, I couldn’t wear them,” Hauser said. “But right now they’re not illegal anywhere else that I know of.”
ù The Gophers exhibited second-period dominance over the Bulldogs this past weekend. Minnesota held its opposition to a total of seven shots on goal in the second period for the entire weekend — three shots on Friday, four on Saturday.