Power play clicks again with Potulny filling in for Miller

David La

BEMIDJI, Minn. —
The pathway from Bemidji State’s locker room to the ice is a green mile of sorts.
Lime-colored rubber mats run the length of the narrow hallway, past a bulletin board covered in blank white paper.
A perfect place for some sort of motivational message or warning.
Something like, beware the lethal injection called the Gophers power play, which scored three goals in Minnesota’s 9-3 win.
The power play struck at a WCHA-best 27.3-percent clip last season for a total of 56 goals.
This season, the Gophers have gone six-for-12 on the advantage, popping three goals against both Notre Dame and the Beavers.
“There’s not a weak link in it,” Minnesota captain Erik Westrum said. “There’s so many tricks in the bag and we haven’t even pulled half of them.”
Westrum plays on the Gophers first power-play unit, joined by Johnny Pohl, defensemen Dylan Mills and Jordan Leopold and newcomer Grant Potulny, who scored two power-play goals Saturday.
The freshman Potulny stepped into the considerable shoes of departed captain Nate Miller: The rock in front of the net waiting for a quick pass, deflection or rebound while avoiding getting pushed outside.
“Grant’s good around the net,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “He’s not the prettiest guy around, but he’s got good hands.”
While the passes clicked and whirred around the zone, Potulny lurks just outside the crease, looking for an opening.
“The puck movement along the (boards) is so good that I find myself alone in front of the net,” Potulny said. “So its all about me just trying to find the net. We’ve got a great group of four guys out there, I’ve got the easy job.”
Potulny, from Grand Forks, N.D., is the first non-Minnesotan to play for the Gophers since 1987, but says the maroon and gold faithful welcomed him like his teammates did Saturday after goals: with open arms.

Get Shorty
Senior wing Aaron Miskovich notched the Gophers first short-handed goal of the young season, blowing a slapshot past Bemidji State goaltender Bob Tallarico in the third period.
Miskovich lead Minnesota and tied for the WCHA lead with four shorthanded goals last season.

David La Vaque covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]