U thinks revenge against Michigan

Michael Rand

ESPN called it the “greatest goal ever scored.”
Those who witnessed it in person were stunned.
Those who didn’t had ample chance to catch it on any number of sports highlight shows.
It happened about seven minutes into the second period of last season’s NCAA West Regional game between Minnesota and Michigan. The Gophers were leading 2-1, but the Wolverines were on the power play.
Michigan’s Mike Legg set up behind Minnesota goalie Steve DeBus.
And then he did the unexpected.
Instead of moving the puck around the boards or passing in front of the net, Legg maneuvered the puck so it was flat on the blade of his stick. Then, he raised his stick to waist level, moved toward the front of the net and flung the puck over the shoulder of an unsuspecting DeBus as if he was shoveling coal into an old boxcar.
The incredible goal tied the game. It wasn’t the game winner, but it was profoundly important. Michigan went on to win 4-3 en route to a national championship. The Gophers went home shaking their heads.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Gophers senior Brian LaFleur said. “I’ve never thought about putting the puck in that way.”
DeBus was equally shocked.
“It was a good play by him. It took me by surprise,” DeBus said. “I didn’t know what had happened until I saw it on replay.”
Even freshman Ben Clymer, who wasn’t yet a member of the Gophers and was nowhere near the Bradley Center, was awestruck as he watched the score on television.
“To do it in a college game and pull it off was amazing,” Clymer said. “My jaw dropped when it happened. It’s something I won’t forget.”
But recollections of the goal weren’t the most important thoughts Gophers players entertained this week in preparation for their showdown with Michigan and Michigan State at the College Hockey Showcase in Detroit.
Although the players weren’t short of superlatives when they described the goal, they also realize that the present is far more important that the past. They also know this weekend’s games will be crucial when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection.
Neither game will be easy.
Twenty of the 24 players who led Michigan to the national title last season are back this year. The Wolverines (11-1-1) have outscored their opponents by a 67-30 margin and are the top-rated team in every college hockey poll.
“They’re probably the best team in college hockey,” Gophers coach Doug Woog said of Michigan. “It’ll be a real eye-opener for some of our younger guys. But it’s good to go in and be challenged.”
Michigan State, meanwhile, is ranked sixth in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, one place below the Gophers. The Spartans (9-4) are led by juniors Sean Berens and Mike Watt, who have 11 goals each.
The Gophers (8-4) need to capitalize on their scoring chances and have good efforts from their goaltender in order to win, Woog said.
And it wouldn’t hurt them to watch out for trick plays.
“It wasn’t a real popular move, but after it was on TV everyone was trying it,” LaFleur said. “There’s an easy way to defend it: Stand within a stick’s length of him and give him a good two-hander.”

Notes: Gophers goalie Erik Day, who compiled a 1.00 goals-against average in four games while subbing for the injured Steve DeBus, injured his rotator cuff against Northern Michigan and will not make the trip to Detroit. DeBus (shoulder) and center Wyatt Smith (shoulder) will likely play this weekend. Brent Godbout is also available after being out of action with a hip pointer.