College Hockey Showcase pits ‘U’ against two tough foes

Adam Fink

With little video available to watch and two nonconference foes on the horizon, Minnesota’s men’s hockey team is focusing on themselves this week.

Specifically, the team wants to improve its offensive production and energy level.

The Gophers are averaging one goal per nine shots, a deceiving number considering many of the team’s 504 shots have been quality attempts.

As for energy, coach Don Lucia feels his team has yet to put together a 60-minute performance on the ice.

“We want high tempo practices,” Lucia said. “The biggest thing is energy. We also want to improve offensively.”

The reason for spending the week on improvement is the opposition. Minnesota (7-3-3, 4-2-2 WCHA) get a dose of two CCHA teams on opposite ends of the standings during this weekend’s College Hockey Showcase.

On Friday night, the ninth-ranked Gophers face Michigan State (5-6, 3-4 CCHA), a young team struggling to score and searching for a solid goaltender.

Michigan State has scored only 30 goals in 305 shots. Despite coach Rick Comley expressing recent disappointment in goalie Matt Migliaccio, the sophomore has a stellar .922 saves percentage.

“It’s frustrating because we haven’t done as well as we would like,” Comley said. “We’ve had trouble scoring and our young guys haven’t stepped up as much as they can.”

Michigan should provide a tougher challenge Sunday. The Wolverines (9-2-1, 6-1-1 CCHA) have the nation’s best penalty-kill unit and are undefeated on the road (3-0-1) in the CHS since 1997.

Four out of Michigan’s top six scorers return to the Wolverines, who were defeated by the Gophers in last year’s Frozen Four.

Friday’s game begins at 7:05 p.m. while the puck is dropped at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.

More on the goaltenders

while sophomore Travis Weber will make his third consecutive start in goal Friday, Lucia said neither Weber nor Justin Johnson is any closer to establishing themselves as the No. 1 starter.

And that might not be a problem for Lucia.

“We want to try and find some guy to save 90 percent of the shots,” the fourth-year coach said. “If they both are at that, then they both will play. I have no preferences.”

Weber has increased his saves percentage to .902.

Johnson, also a sophomore, is sitting at .866.

Reinholz doubtful

jerrid Reinholz is doubtful for this weekend’s series.

Reinholz is recovering from a severely bruised shoulder he injured Saturday night against Michigan Tech.