Gophers plagued by Friday curse

by Josh Linehan

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Mothers have long contended there is a secret, metaphysical place where unmatched socks go to die.
So maybe, just maybe, somewhere amid multiple argyle and athletic socks, Minnesota could find Dan Welch’s grades, Doug Meyer’s equipment and Pat O’Leary’s memory.
When the action was over Saturday night in Grand Forks, Minnesota played with a full lineup and brought home a 5-2 win.
Friday was a different story.
The trouble for Minnesota actually began Thursday, moments before the team bus was to head north.
Hockey academic adviser Cindy Pavlowski got on the bus and informed coach Don Lucia a grade had not yet been reported for Welch.
Welch received an incomplete in a class, but he finished the work before the road trip. His grade, however, had not yet been made official and Welch was forced to stay home.
Welch is expected to be eligible as soon as the grade is recorded, which might be as soon as today.
The Gophers then flew Doug Meyer up to Grand Forks to take Welch’s place, but Meyer was a healthy scratch Friday.
The airline lost Meyer’s equipment. Surely everyone can relate.
“I hope whichever North Dakota alum has Meyer’s equipment gives it back before tomorrow,” Lucia joked after Friday’s game.
With Erik Westrum serving his additional game suspension, Minnesota was down three forwards.
But wait, there’s more.
Early in the third period, sophomore forward Pat O’Leary was blasted headfirst into the boards. O’Leary lay motionless for almost 20 minutes until he was placed on a backboard and taken to the hospital.
O’Leary said he has no recollection of any events between the hit and his MRI later in the evening. Despite severe back pain, O’Leary is expected to play this weekend.
Even with the depleted lineup and screwy happenings, Minnesota hung in the game Friday, eventually losing 1-0.
“We played hard in their barn, and I’m really proud of the way we battled despite not having a full lineup,” Lucia said after Friday night’s game.
Sophomore forward John Pohl said it was hard game all the way around.
“It was tough. Pat goes down, and then you’re thinking, ‘we’ve got a five-minute power play, but Pat might not walk again.’ We did get a rest out of the deal, which was good with as few skaters as we had,” Pohl said.
The Gophers eventually found all the missing pieces and put together a dominant 5-2 win Saturday night.
Moms are still looking for the socks.

Josh Linehan covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments to [email protected].