Gophers use power play to ice Huskies

by Michael Rand

Michigan Tech didn’t do many things right while being outshot 87-37 in consecutive 3-0 losses to Minnesota this weekend. Special teams play was a big reason why the Gophers handled the Huskies so easily.
Aside from the disparate power play success rates for the teams this past weekend — the Gophers were 4-for-13 and the Huskies were 0-for-11 — there were some even more staggering statistics:
ù Not only did the Huskies not produce a power play goal all weekend, but they also failed to take a shot on goal during their first four power plays.
ù The Gophers had 19 power play shots on goal, compared to seven for the Huskies.
ù The Gophers outshot the Huskies 3-1 while Minnesota forward Erik Rasmussen served four minutes in penalties early in the third period of Saturday’s game.
Although the margin of efficiency between the teams’ power plays was large, it was consistent with early season trends. The Gophers have the third-best power play percentage in the WCHA (23.9), while the Huskies are third from the bottom (15.0).
The Gophers have also killed more than 88 percent of their penalties this season, which is better than the team record in that category for an entire season.
The Day after
Freshman goalie Erik Day did something on Saturday and Sunday that no other Gophers netminder has ever done: He opened his career with back-to-back shutouts.
The WCHA recognized Day’s efforts on Monday by naming him defensive player of the week and rookie of the week.
The Elk River native made 11 saves in Minnesota’s 3-0 win over Michigan Tech in the series opener and made 26 saves when the Gophers won by the same score the following afternoon.
This is the first year the WCHA is honoring rookies of the week. In past seasons, the league has only given awards for offensive and defensive players of the week. Day is the first player to win two awards in the same week.
Penalties continue
The Gophers committed 29 penalties for 82 minutes this weekend, bringing their season totals up to 130 and 381, respectively. They are on pace to break the all-time team records for number of penalties committed and penalty minutes in a season.
The previous records, set in 1991-92, are 549 penalties and 1,207 minutes. Projected over a 44-game schedule — the number of games the 91-92 team played — Minnesota is on pace to commit 572 penalties for 1,676 minutes.
But several things need to be kept in perspective.
First, Minnesota’s opponents have racked up 340 penalty minutes this season — just 41 fewer than the Gophers.
Second, the Gophers also lead the WCHA in 10-minute misconducts, which skews their penalty minute totals.
Third, Gophers coach Doug Woog said his team is cutting down on dumb penalties — infractions that occur behind the action or are taken out of frustration. Woog said earlier this week that there might be a 6 a.m. practice in his players’ future if they didn’t stop taking bad penalties.
After Sunday’s game, Woog said he wasn’t sure if he would follow through with the threat.
“We’re going to discuss that tomorrow with the coaching staff,” he said.
Injury report
Starting goaltender Steve DeBus (inflamed left shoulder) is listed as day-to-day and should be available for Minnesota’s series this weekend at Northern Michigan.
Sophomore forward Mike Anderson hurt his wrist in the Michigan Tech series and Monday precautionary X-rays were taken.
Forward Brent Godbout, who is still recovering from a hip pointer sustained at North Dakota, is listed as day-to-day.
What is the only WCHA team that has a winning record against Minnesota during the 1990s? (Answer later).
Slap shots
ù Freshman Ryan Trebil made his Gophers debut in Sunday’s game, pairing up with his former Bloomington Jefferson teammate Ben Clymer on defense.
ù Minnesota has scored at least one goal in 14 of the last 15 periods.
ù Trivia answer: Northern Michigan, Minnesota’s opponent this weekend, is 11-9-5 against the Gophers during the 1990s.