Fans give Spehar the cold shoulder

Michael Rand

During the late 1980s there was a skit on “Saturday Night Live” about a man with the nickname “Mr. Short-Term Memory.”
Whenever Tom Hanks hosted the show, he would play the lead character, a man who would do something and completely forget about it a minute later.
If the crew at “SNL” had brought their video cameras to Duluth this past weekend, they could have filmed a follow-up skit featuring about 5,000 fans in Hanks’ old role.
Freshman Dave Spehar, who set a Minnesota high school hockey record with 311 career points at Duluth East, returned to his hometown as a member of the rival Gophers for this weekend’s series against Minnesota-Duluth.
It was obvious before Friday’s game that the crowd at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center had Spehar’s two-game career with the Gophers in mind rather than his four-year career at Duluth East.
Spehar received a steady stream of boos during player introductions and was showered with the devilishly clever “Spehar sucks” chant throughout the weekend. His loudest ovation occurred when he drew a slashing penalty on Friday night.
The freshman forward said he didn’t make a big deal about his return to Duluth or the crowd’s reaction.
He did add this, however: “I know where my new home is.”
Goon or sniper?
Sophomore defenseman Bill Kohn has gained a reputation in practice and in games for being a big hitter with a deadly shot.
At least he enhanced his notoriety in one of those areas this weekend.
Kohn delivered his share of checks, including several in Saturday night’s decisive third period.
As for his shot …
With about 30 seconds remaining in Minnesota’s 4-3 win on Saturday, Kohn had a chance to put the Bulldogs away for good with an empty-net goal.
He picked up a loose puck in Minnesota’s end and skated virtually untouched down the left boards. A UMD player started to converge on him as he crossed the Bulldogs’ blue line. He then sent an uncontested shot toward the net.
But the net remained just as empty as it had been since goalie Brant Nicklin was pulled in favor of a sixth attacker — empty.
After the game, Kohn was subjected to some teasing from his teammates.
“The thing about Billy is that he can goon people, but then he can snipe the puck, too,” said Kohn’s defensive partner Mike Crowley.
Kohn originally tried to shrug the shot off, jokingly saying he missed because he didn’t want his first college goal to be an empty-netter.
Finally, the Roseville native revealed the truth: “I got really excited when I saw the open net. The puck started rolling — blah, blah, blah — I missed.”
More than a fill-in
The Gophers received a small scare this weekend, when it appeared freshman defenseman Ben Clymer might have separated his shoulder.
The injury turned out to be less serious, but Clymer still missed Saturday night’s game because the shoulder was stiff.
Brett Abrahamson, a forward/defenseman who didn’t dress for Friday night’s game, filled Clymer’s place on defense and looked like anything but a substitute.
“He did a great job,” said senior Dan Hendrickson. “His play was a big reason we won.”
Shutting it out
While Coach Doug Woog served his one-week suspension, his son, Gophers senior Dan Woog, employed a business-as-usual attitude about this weekend’s series.
“He knows I put the team first,” Dan said.
Woog played an important role for the Gophers in Saturday night’s 4-3 win, assisting on Hendrickson’s key short-handed goal that put Minnesota ahead by two goals late in the second period.
Slap shots
ù Gophers hockey fans were the runners-up in the “Best of the Campus Crazies” contest, an Internet competition designed to seek out the best fans in college sports (or at least figure out which schools have the most Internet users).
Minnesota hockey fans beat Georgia football fans in the first round, Clemson football fans in the quarterfinals and Kansas basketball fans in the semifinals before losing to Duke basketball fans in the final.
ù UMD scored as many goals in Friday night’s 7-4 win as it had scored in its last seven regular season games against the Gophers combined.
ù Those looking for defensive hockey should have stayed away from the second period of both games this weekend. The Gophers and Bulldogs combined for 18 goals in their two-game series — 13 were in the second period.