Gophers get shorted on power play

by Michael Rand

Gophers hockey players and coaches didn’t have much to complain about following two embarrassing losses at North Dakota last weekend.
For the most part, they took responsibility for their flat performance and tipped their caps to the Sioux for outplaying them.
But a small pair of numbers on the corner of the stat sheet — 13 and five — drew some gripes from Gophers coach Doug Woog and his assistants.
The larger figure represented the number of power play chances North Dakota had in the series, whereas the smaller number signified Minnesota’s opportunities.
After Saturday’s game, associate coach Mike Guentzel said, “Hey Wardo (assistant coach Tom Ward): Did you see this? Thirteen to five.”
Ward just shook his head.
The Sioux’s aggressive play was a big factor in the discrepancy between the number of power plays both teams had, although a few penalties that could have gone either way tended to go against the Gophers.
Woog hinted that he was disappointed with some of the calls, but he placed much of the blame on his team.
“I was disappointed in some of the penalties that we took,” Woog said. “The unavailability of some power plays for us affected the outcome of this series.”
UND went 4-for-13 on the power play while Minnesota was 2-for-5. All three of North Dakota’s three power play goals on Friday night came at critical moments.
Home is where the W’ is
UND’s crowd was loud and rude both nights, perhaps boosting the Sioux in the first period Friday and third period Saturday.
The Gophers tried to block out the hostile crowd. “You’re playing the team on the other bench, not the crowd,” sophomore Wyatt Smith said.
Recent history would suggest, however, that home ice has a definite impact on the two teams. The home team has not lost in the last 12 games of the Minnesota-North Dakota series. During that span, the Gophers are 4-0-2 at Mariucci Arena and the Sioux are 5-0-1 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Suit her up
The Gophers may have lost two games, but co-captain Casey Hankinson didn’t lose his sense of humor.
As he exited the locker room area Saturday night, Hankinson turned to Star Tribune beat writer Rachel Blount and said, “We’ve got a uniform for you.”
There’s still no word on whether Blount or any other members of the media will suit up for next weekend’s home series against Northern Michigan.
They wrote what?
It was appropriate that the Sioux’s warm-up music featured only songs that predated the compact disc era — it seems the whole town is stuck in rewind.
The local newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald, made a distasteful reference to Woog and $500 in a Saturday column, jogging everyone’s memory of the coach’s two-game October suspension.
An article in Sunday’s paper referred to a “Far Side” cartoon in which several gophers can’t figure out “which way is up.”
Needless to say, Grand Forks residents don’t need to tune into “The Simpsons” every night if they want to see a homer.
Slap Shots
ù Smith continued a couple of trends this weekend. He has scored in each of Minnesota’s four games against North Dakota this season and has one goal in each of his last five games overall.
ù UND sophomore Jason Blake won WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors for his five-goal weekend against the Gophers. Sioux goalie Aaron Schweitzer won the weekly award as the league’s top rookie. Michigan Tech goalie Luciano Caravaggio took defensive honors.
ù Gophers freshman Dave Spehar extended his point streak to 13 games with a goal in both games this weekend.