St. Cloud sends Gophers to road with sweep

Josh Linehan

Nearly an hour after the Minnesota men’s hockey team was embarrassed Friday 5-0 by visiting St. Cloud, team captain Nate Miller was still in uniform.
Baffled and saddened, Miller fought back tears as he attempted to explain how a team with high levels of both talent and hopes could be shut out by an in-state rival on senior night.
“There are no excuses, none whatsoever,” Miller said. “Maybe I expected too much, but I thought we’d at least come out and skate hard.”
Minnesota didn’t even come close to the Huskies on Friday, giving up three first-period goals. From that point on, the Gophers didn’t even seem to be in the same arena as St. Cloud.
“I’m sorry to the fans who paid to watch us. I feel bad for all the guys who played here before me,” Miller said.
Breakout passes whizzed the length of the rink or hammered into the boards. Minnesota players made phantom attempts at forechecking and backchecking. The Gophers managed just three shots from inside the top of the circles all evening.
“This is the most disappointed I’ve been all year long. We came out and just didn’t even compete,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
The lack of effort led to a 45 minute postgame team meeting. Lucia, along with former Gophers and current coaches Mike Guentzel and Robb Stauber, lectured the current squad on Minnesota hockey tradition.
“They talked about the standard of the program,” Lucia said. “We talked about what it means to wear a Gopher jersey. I think a few of them don’t remember.”
Lucia also promised significant line changes for Saturday’s rematch in St. Cloud, a game the Gophers ultimately lost 5-4, in overtime.
True to his word, Lucia left seniors Mike Lyons, Rico Pagel and Dave Spehar, along with sophomore Nick Angell, home for the second tilt. Freshman Chad Roberg, who has yet to see action this season, made the trip as Minnesota’s extra player.
“We were playing for pride, and I went with the guys who would give the most effort and give us the best chance to win,” Lucia said.
When asked if he made his decisions after watching a tape of Friday’s contest, Lucia replied, “I didn’t have to watch the tape.”
Though the younger lineup skated a much better game for Minnesota on Saturday, the results were the same for the Gophers.
After battling back to take a third-period lead, Minnesota gave up a goal with 55 seconds remaining to send the contest to overtime.
In the extra session, the Huskies’ Keith Anderson took a bouncing puck and skated the length of the rink to bury a wrister top-shelf for the win.
Despite the loss, Lucia said he has no plans to alter his lineup from Saturday for this week’s playoff series at Colorado College, which finished fifth in the WCHA, one place ahead of Minnesota.
“This lineup played much better. We’ll stick with the same 12 forwards and take seven defensemen to Colorado,” Lucia said.
Those 19 will plan on skating in front of freshman goaltender Pete Samargia, who played five out of six periods after relieving Erik Young at the start of the second period Friday.
“Right now, Pete is our goalie for the playoffs, and we have to look at it from that mindset if we’re going to have any success,” Lucia said.

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