Nickname search begins for U’s Spehar

Aaron Kirscht

Those who didn’t get the chance to see it on any of the multiple airings of ESPN’s SportsCenter on Sunday night and Monday morning missed a doozy.
Dave Spehar’s first-period goal on Friday against Colorado College was one of the more memorable of the season, college or pro, and was featured on the “Plays of the Week” segment of the show.
“That was kind of the big joke after the game,” Spehar said. “Hank (senior Casey Hankinson) said after the game, We’re going to have to watch SportsCenter tonight.'”
With the Gophers down 1-0 late in the first period, defenseman Brett Abrahamson (according to Spehar; defenseman Bill Kohn was officially credited with the assist) spotted Spehar all alone at the far blue line.
Abrahamson laced a pass up ice, giving Spehar a clean one-on-one with Tigers goaltender Jason Cugnet.
“I had the zone all by myself,” Spehar said on the hindsight play-by-play. “I went in and tried to fire it quick upstairs, it went over the net and I just followed it, followed it, followed it back in front of the net and batted it in.”
The cheers of the Colorado College faithful that erupted when the shot sailed high and glanced off the glass fell silent when Spehar, from his knees, picked the puck out of mid-air and knocked it behind Cugnet.
About the only thing missing from Spehar’s 15 seconds in the national spotlight was a “Bermanism,” a nickname granted by ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman. But other than calling Spehar “David,” Berman didn’t come through.
That leaves the rest of the public to take up the slack. So what will it be — Dave “To Be Or Not To” Spehar? Dave “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a” Spehar? The Duluth, Minn., native’s teammates and coaches had some other ideas.
“Beanie Baby!” goaltender coach Bob Mason shouted from the background. Spehar tried to keep Mason quiet, but the follow-up question had to be asked.
“Because he’s so soft and cuddly,” Mason said, “like one of those little toys.”
Hankinson suggested another possibility.
“Donut Boy,” he said. “Before every game, (Spehar) has six glazed donuts. It’s gotta be Donut Boy.”
Oh, my achin’ …
Hankinson has spent much of his season in the training room, dealing with hip pointers (one on each side), a broken thumb, a bruised shoulder, a concussion and the flu.
On Monday, he put his boredom to good use — and lightened up the glum Gophers locker room in the process.
Hankinson hobbled into the locker room on crutches, wearing a football helmet, a neck brace, an eye patch, a sling and two leg braces.
“When’s practice?” he asked. “I’m ready to go.”
Wyatt ask why?
Apparently, the powers-that-be in the WCHA office just couldn’t overlook this one. Gophers junior forward Wyatt Smith was named offensive player of the week for his five-goal, one-assist weekend at Colorado College.
Smith is the first WCHA player to log four goals in a game this season, accomplishing the feat on Saturday in a 9-6 loss to the Tigers. Smith now leads the WCHA in goals scored, both in conference games with 17 and overall with 23. He ranks second in the overall scoring race, with 23 goals and 19 assists in 34 games.
Minnesota-Duluth goalie Brant Nicklin earned defensive honors, and Wisconsin’s Kevin Granato was the league’s top rookie this week.
ù Heading into the final weekend of the season, the Gophers’ Reggie Berg and Wisconsin’s Steve Reinprecht remain tied for the WCHA scoring lead with 31 points in league games.
ù Junior Mike Anderson tested his sprained knee on Monday for the first time since injuring it against Minnesota-Duluth last month. After the pre-practice skate, Anderson said it felt fine. His status for the St. Cloud State series will be determined later this week.
ù Freshman Aaron Miskovich underwent surgery last week to repair several facial fractures around his left eye, which included implanting a plate over the cheekbone. He still has some swelling on that side of his face and some blood in the eye, but Miskovich said he will play this weekend.