Penalties are plentiful in Gophers season-opening hockey game

David La

The combined 10 goals scored between Minnesota and Notre Dame in their Saturday night game was a solid output as far as hockey goes.
While the shell-shocked Irish goalies may disagree, the most alarming number in the game was the combined 41 penalties for 93 minutes.
The scariest result of the rough play was when Gophers forward Jeff Taffe suffered a gash on the right side of his forehead after being boarded by Notre Dame’s Aaron Gill.
Gill received a 10-minute game misconduct, ending his evening and forcing him to miss the Irish’s next game.
Taffe received seven stitches but returned to score a goal and contribute an assist.
The penalty pinnacle was reached at 9:11 of the third period, with Minnesota up 7-1.
After snaring a shot attempt, Gophers goaltender Adam Hauser was slashed by Notre Dame’s Brett Henning. A full-blown ruckus ensued, and in the aftermath, 10 players received 18 penalties for slashing or roughing.
“That the CCHA style,” Minnesota’s Troy Riddle said. “That’s the golden rule of hockey there. When you’re down, there’s only one thing you can do then, go out and try to drill somebody.”
“We got under their skin and they got frustrated,” Gophers captain Erik Westrum said. “The big thing I was trying to do was calm my teammates down and tell them to put it on the scoreboard.
“When we have a lead like that, you don’t want to lose any guys to a dumb game misconduct.”
Sophomore surge
Much has been said about the Gophers freshmen class, but coach Don Lucia is equally impressed by the sophomores on his roster.
Lucia is specifically counting on a solid year from center Jeff Taffe. After putting-up 16 points last year, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Taffe was a first round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in June’s NHL amateur draft.
“If we’re going to make a step, Jeff Taffe has to have a big year,” Lucia said last week. “He’s stronger, he understands what’s expected and he understands what the WCHA is all about. Hopefully he can go from a 20-point to a 40-point player.”
Taffe notched two points against Notre Dame, and had four multiple-point games last year.
No roll call
No official attendance numbers were made available for Saturday’s game, but unofficial estimates put crowd numbers between 14,500 and 15,000 fans.

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