Pohl, Spehar give U added scoring punch

Tim Nichols

Dave Spehar and John Pohl might have the perfect pedigrees to be scoring machines for the Gophers men’s hockey team.
Pohl broke Spehar’s all-time high school scoring mark. But until this weekend, you haven’t heard more than a peep from these two.
“I haven’t played solid hockey since they’ve dropped the puck on day one,” Spehar said. “I talked to the coach after the St. Cloud game, and he said `You have got to step it up,’ and I think I did.”
During this weekend’s sweep of Wisconsin, Spehar scored twice and added an assist while Pohl notched his first goal as a Gopher.
Pohl’s goal kicked off Minnesota’s 3-2 victory over the Badgers on Saturday. After scoring the goal, Pohl celebrated as if he won the Stanley Cup and was mobbed by his teammates.
“It was huge, great,” Pohl said. “The last couple of weeks I’ve been too concentrated on defense. I haven’t been playing the offensive game enough. I’m looking for a good balance between offense and defense.”
The goal was big, not only for the team, but for the confidence of the freshman from Red Wing, Minnesota. Pohl has been criticized for his lack of speed. Although he is a big player and was accustomed to scoring at will in high school, coach Doug Woog says it will take time for Pohl to develop.
“His skating still needs to improve, but he’s learning,” Woog said. “This goal will really help him. All of a sudden you look at the numbers and you’ve got a `G’ by your name. It’s amazing how that will help you.”
Pohl’s hockey skills still have a long way to go. But mentally, Woog likes the freshman’s outlook.
“He’s an honest player and is willing to learn,” Woog said. “He holds himself responsible and accountable. He’s not a typical freshman.”
Another issue that might have helped these two players this weekend is the shift in the lines. Last Saturday against St. Cloud, Pohl and Spehar we’re both lingering on the fourth line.
This weekend, however, Spehar was moved up to the first line while Pohl centered the third line because of the injury to Rico Pagel. The increase in playing time especially benefited Pohl.
“Well, I think my playing time has increased,” Pohl said. “Pagel’s hurt, so I have to step up and give it all I got.”
Woog also expressed similar sentiments toward Spehar’s performance.
“Part of it is, I thought I was wasting some firepower (by putting Spehar on the fourth line),” Woog said. “I’m glad the little guy decided he was going to play.”
Spehar is a quick, prototypical goal-scorer who simply has not been putting the puck in the net. This weekend, however, he broke out of that slump.
Spehar’s most important goal came on the power play in the third period of Friday’s game when he slung the puck in from the left slot and beat Wisconsin goaltender Graham Melanson after it was deflected off Badger defenseman Alex Brooks’ skate.
“I’m a believer in throwing at the net and shooting the puck quickly,” Spehar said. “I scored against St. Lawrence (Oct. 9) the exact same way.”
The emergence of these two players will add the scoring depth that Woog has demanded from his troops. Before it was just Wyatt Smith and Reggie Berg. Now two more names can be added to the list.