Winless streak extends to 3 after weekend loss

The Gophers earned a tie Friday but were smoked by Michigan Saturday night.

Brian Deutsch

Earlier this year, the Minnesota men’s hockey team handed Michigan its only loss this season. This weekend was payback time for the Wolverines at the College Hockey Showcase.

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what: Men’s Hockey when: 7:07 p.m., Friday where: Mariucci Arena

The Gophers skated to a 3-3 tie Friday night against Michigan State before dropping a 5-1 contest to the University of Michigan the following night.

The Wolverines (13-1-0 overall, 8-0-0 CCHA) also picked up a 3-2 win over Wisconsin Friday night to sweep the weekend – the team’s best performance at the College Hockey Showcase since 2002.

Minnesota’s winless weekend extends the team’s skid to three games, which is the longest the Gophers have gone without a win in almost two years.

The Gophers (7-6-1, 3-5-0 WCHA) again could not convert a power-play opportunity this weekend going 0-for-8 over the weekend along with allowing two shorthanded goals.

On the other end of the special teams spectrum, Minnesota looked like two different teams this weekend.

On Friday night, the Gophers successfully killed off all five penalties and added a shorthanded goal of their own against the Spartans (8-2-2, 4-2-0 CCHA).

“I definitely feel we played a full 60 minutes Friday night,” senior defenseman Derek Peltier said. “We played solid from start to end.”

But Saturday the team allowed two power-play goals on seven chances in the loss to the Wolverines.

Who scored that?

On Friday night, Minnesota received goals from a trio of skaters with a grand total of one career goal coming into the game.

Both freshman forward Mike Hoeffel and freshman defenseman Stu Bickel tallied their first-ever goals for the Gophers while junior defenseman R.J. Anderson notched his second-career goal – his first came in the 4-3 win over Michigan earlier this year.

“Michigan State is a real good defensive team and they shut down our top lines pretty well,” Peltier said. “It was nice for some of those guys to step up, get their first goals and get a little confidence.”

Hockey’s hot line

The Gophers saw arguably the most potent line of forwards they will see all year in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Wolverines.

Wolverines senior forward Kevin Porter, the nation’s leading scorer with 24 points (16 goals and eight assists), tallied a pair of goals and assisted on both of senior forward Chad Kolarik’s goals to earn the game’s first star.

“Their (the seniors) record in this College Hockey Showcase is 1-5 in three years,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We’re playing at home with a team led by two seniors and you’re trying to make a difference. You’ve got to do it on the ice, you can’t just talk about it. They did that.”

Kolarik also added an assist in the win to bring his season point total to 20. His 9 goals and 11 assists are good enough for a tie for second best in the country.

“They seemed like kind of a different Michigan team than we saw at the beginning of the year, freshman goalie Alex Kangas said. “They were playing with confidence Ö they jumped on us early and didn’t quit.”

Goaltending gossip

Minnesota coach Don Lucia tried a new goaltending strategy this weekend, giving Kangas the start Friday night and junior Jeff Frazee the follow-up start on Saturday.

Up until this weekend, Frazee had started the first game of every series and then split starts with Kangas off and on for the weekend finale.

But Lucia still has not found a perfect way to determine a starter and this weekend was no different.

The duo of Kangas and Frazee allowed eight goals in the two games – the second most Minnesota has allowed in a weekend this year.

Game notes

ï Junior forward Blake Wheeler sat out Friday’s game after getting nicked up in practice this week. He did play Saturday and assisted on Gordon’s lone goal for the Gophers.

ï Senior forward Mike Howe returned to the line-up this weekend after suffering a concussion that kept him off the ice last weekend. Howe made an immediate impact, assisting on Bickel’s first period goal Friday night.

ï Junior forward Justin Bostrom broke his hand earlier this month in practice. He was scratched this weekend and is projected to miss at least the next four games.

ï With several regular forwards out Friday, freshman defenseman Kevin Wehrs skated as a forward on Minnesota’s fourth line.

ï Saturday’s loss marks the first time the Minnesota seniors have lost to Michigan – the Gophers had won six in a row over the Wolverines.