Hankinson sparks team with speech

by Michael Rand

Casey Hankinson has never been known as one of the quieter members of the Gophers hockey team. Whether it’s on the ice or in the locker room, Hankinson speaks his mind.
Even as a sophomore on a team filled with 10 seniors last season, the Edina native’s voice could be heard during a pre-game or between-period pep talk.
Perhaps he was heard a little too much.
This year, however, Hankinson is a co-captain. He’s as vocal as he’s always been, but this year it’s expected of him.
Several players pointed to his speech between the second and third period of Friday night’s game against Colorado College as the reason the Gophers turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 victory.
“Casey gave an unbelievable pep talk,” junior Ryan Kraft said. “He told us we needed to look each other in the eye and stick together, and if we weren’t willing to do that we might as well stay in the locker room.”
Apparently Hankinson’s leadership qualities have taken root better on this young Gophers team than they did on last year’s veteran squad.
“I did it last year, but I got a little crap from the older guys,” Hankinson said, smiling. “This year I don’t have anyone rolling their eyes at me.”
DeBus shines both nights
Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks is perhaps just as famous for his 512 home runs as he is for coining the phrase “let’s play two” to express his affection for doubleheaders.
But a less famous athlete, Gophers goalie Steve DeBus, would be more than happy to borrow the phrase.
Rather than playing twice in the same day like Banks, DeBus’ affinity for playing two has to do with playing on consecutive nights.
If he has more weekends like the one he had against Colorado College, Gophers fans will be just as happy as DeBus is at getting both starts.
The junior started both games of a series only twice last season when he split time with then-senior Jeff Moen. This season, he’s being counted on as the No. 1 goalie and easily passed this weekend’s test.
DeBus stopped 46 of 50 shots on the weekend, allowing two goals in each game. He was particularly impressive on Friday night, making 30 saves and keeping the Gophers in the game until they rallied to win.
“Stevie was really good,” said Gophers coach Doug Woog. “When you play good every night, people start expecting it.”
Spehar the goon?
The Minnesota-Colorado College series had it’s share of fieriness, with the teams combining for 108 penalty minutes — 70 of which came on roughing calls — in two games.
But it would have been tough to predict that 5-foot-7 freshman Dave Spehar would have more roughing penalties (1) than goals (0) at any point in his Minnesota career, regardless of whether it is only after two games.
To his credit, Spehar proved this weekend that he’s willing to take hits in front of the net. He also showed that he might fight back.
Slap shots
ù Medical tests showed no serious injury to Colorado College freshman Dan Peters, a native of Cottage Grove, Minn., who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after an injury during Friday night’s game.
ù Colorado College, which had the top power play in the nation last year, was 0-for-10 this weekend.