Minnesota faces tough opponent for first wins

by Sarah Mitchell

By all logic, the Gophers men’s hockey team is going to be manhandled this weekend.
Minnesota (0-3-1 overall, 0-1-1 WCHA) hosts top-ranked Boston College (3-0-0, 2-0-0 Hockey East), a team that has outscored its opponents 16 goals to 5, starting tonightl.
The Gophers have been outscored 15-11, but Eagles coach Jerry York isn’t taking stock in the numbers.
“Our team started out very well this season,” York said. “But this will be the first real test we’ve had, coming out to Minnesota.”
Minnesota has to stop the daunting Eagles line of Jeff Farkas, Jeff Giuliano and Mike Lephart. The trio has produced 18 points from 11 goals and seven assists this season.
Farkas alone is a handful. The forward lit up the Gophers last season, scoring five goals at Kelley Rink.
This season Farkas (6-5-11) leads his team in scoring. Against Massachusetts-Amherst last Saturday, the sniper posted his third career hat trick.
“There’s multiple Hobey Baker candidates on that team,” Gophers defenseman Dylan Mills said. “You can’t really just shadow one guy.”
How does Minnesota’s first line match up with Boston College? Winless Minnesota is still a team without an identity.
“I think we still want to use this weekend as a little more trial and error,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “After this week we want to have some things that we’re comfortable with. It’s coming together a little bit more.”
In his first season at Minnesota, Lucia is still tinkering with the lineup. Junior center Erik Westrum is the Gophers’ leading scorer.
After four games, Westrum leads the Gophers offense. Minnesota’s co-captain posted five points, with four goals and one assist.
Gophers goalie Adam Hauser has been another team bright-spot. This week’s WCHA defensive player of the week is key in containing Farkas and Co.
Hauser stopped 77 North Dakota shots in the Gophers’ WCHA opener last weekend. Despite Hauser’s effort, Minnesota tied the Sioux at two before falling 3-2.
“He’s only played a few games in his sophomore season, but already you can tell the improvement from his freshman to sophomore year,” Gophers sophomore defenseman Nick Angell said. “He’s outstanding right now and hopefully he can keep that going.”
Hauser also needs the support of his teammates — it’s the only way to defy the odds.
“If we don’t play our best game, it’s pretty simple,” Mills said. “We’re going to lose.”

Slap shot
ù Eagles freshman forward A.J. Walker returns home this weekend as the lone Minnesota native on Boston College’s roster. Walker played hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. His senior campaign included 44 goals and 83 assists.

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].