Gophers aiming to regroup after sweep

Minnesota will play an exhibition game this weekend at Mariucci Arena.

Sophomore forward Connor Reilly celebrates with teammate Ryan Collins after scoring a goal during the Gopher Men's Hockey game against St. Cloud State University on Saturda, Nov. 1 at the Mariucci Arena.

Liam James Doyle

Sophomore forward Connor Reilly celebrates with teammate Ryan Collins after scoring a goal during the Gopher Men’s Hockey game against St. Cloud State University on Saturda, Nov. 1 at the Mariucci Arena.

Ben Gotz

For the first time all season, Minnesota is not on top of the college hockey world.

After being swept by rival Minnesota-Duluth, the Gophers were knocked down to No. 4 in the USCHO.com poll. The team received 90 percent of first-place votes in the poll last week and none this week.

“Monday was not fun coming into the rink,” redshirt sophomore Connor Reilly said. “Everyone was pissed off.”

Reilly said when the team reviewed film of its 3-0 Friday loss to UMD — the first time it was shut out in more than a year and a half — there wasn’t a lot of screaming from the coaches.

None was needed. The players knew it wasn’t good enough.

“We saw it,” Reilly said. “That’s not us. I don’t know how we played that poorly.”

Head coach Don Lucia said sometimes when he reviews film, the team ends up playing better than he first thought. This wasn’t one of those times.

“I thought that was one of our worst efforts in years,” Lucia said. “They’re a prideful group — they know when they didn’t play very good.”

The Gophers won’t get a chance to work their way back up the polls this weekend because they’re playing an exhibition game against the U.S. under-18 team.

But Lucia said it was still important for his team to hit the ice and play a game, whether it counted in the standings or not.

“It’s an opportunity to play,” Lucia said. “I think … the most important thing [is] that you’re not sitting without game action this weekend, because then you’re a little bit more rusty.”

Sophomore forward Hudson Fasching said the exhibition game comes at a good time because it allows the team to reorganize.

“It’s time for us to regroup,” Fasching said. “Figure out some of our weaknesses and try to make up for them.”

One of the weaknesses the Gophers will try to address after last weekend is creating scoring chances.

The team only scored one goal in two games against UMD, and Lucia said they didn’t give themselves a chance to get many more.

“You’re not going to win many games scoring only one goal,” Lucia said. “I don’t think we’ve created enough [opportunities].”

Lucia said the team’s third and fourth lines need to contribute more offensively, but Fasching said he needs to step up as well to help generate more offense for the team’s first line.

“[I’ve] kind of been trying to work on the corners more … be more competitive and beat my guy to the corner,” Fasching said.

While Monday was a rough day at the rink, Reilly said the Gophers learned a few hard lessons for the rest of the year.

“Now we know. We understand that it’s going to be hard,” Reilly said. “We know we have a lot of skill and a lot of talent, some big-time players. But if we’re not going to go to work and the other team outworks us, it doesn’t matter how talented we are — we’re probably not going to win enough games. Or as many as we want to at least.”