Strong defense can’t hold back rushing Badgers

Tim Nichols

Perhaps Minnesota’s men’s hockey team should have changed its name for the weekend from the Gophers to the G-phers, because there was no “o” to be found this weekend against Colorado College.
And if there was a “d” in Gophers, it would be gone too. Minnesota was swept convincingly by the Tigers, 7-1 and 6-1.
“Well, the effort was good,” Gophers coach Doug Woog said. “Every goal (by Colorado College) was caused by an individual breakdown. Overall, we held our own and had plenty of opportunities, but it was like, `You can play all day, Minnesota, but you ain’t going to score.'”
It didn’t take long Saturday to see what kind of night was in store. The Tigers’ Mike Stuart picked up a face-off and blasted a shot from the blue line to beat freshman goaltender Adam Hauser little more than a minute into the game.
The bad luck stuck around after Friday night’s massacre, with Colorado College skating circles around the Gophers’ defenders and putting on a scoring clinic.
The Tigers’ show started at the 19:32 mark of the first period Friday, when a streaking Brian Swanson plucked the puck out of the air, put it down and beat Hauser over the shoulder. Toby Peterson followed with a goal 26 seconds later, when he blasted a slapper from the right circle for the goal.
The Minnesota defensemen were severely exploited by the quicker, faster Tigers. The Gophers said they knew coming in that Colorado College would be the most skillful team they’ve faced so far, and that they wanted to pound them and play good defense.
But you can’t hit what you can’t catch.
“The good news is we played great for 19 minutes,” Woog said of Friday’s loss. “It went from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. They played phenomenal. But I wasn’t pleased with our gamey-ness.”
The Tigers just kept rolling along through the WCHA as they scored seven straight goals Friday — 12 straight including Saturday — to pummel Minnesota.
“We played very disciplined, that’s how we play our game,” Colorado College coach Don Lucia said. “They were some big hits both ways. But in the second period we started to settle down and controlled the puck.
Colorado College played a complete game against Minnesota. The Tigers shut down the Gophers’ prolific power play the simplest way possible — they didn’t commit many penalties. Minnesota had only one power play Friday, and went 0-for-6 on Saturday.
“The deflating came the last minute,” Woog said. “We went 8 minutes with out a whistle, it was highly skilled. Then we never saw the puck again. Same ice, same referee, that didn’t change. It was our heart that changed.”
The Tigers proved themselves to be one of the WCHA’s elite teams. All of their weapons were on display, as Colorado College stretched its win streak against the Gophers to six.
“It’s obviously embarrassing,” captain Wyatt Smith said. “There’s a lot of Minnesota guys over there and they came after us and made some smart-ass comments. But obviously, they can do that.”
The Gophers will have to put this series behind them in a hurry, because they host perennial powerhouse North Dakota next weekend.
“There’s a breakdown coming some place,” Woog said. “We didn’t have those against Wisconsin. But that’s exactly right, (Colorado College) has a good outfit.”




SCORING SUMMARIES

SATURDAY
Colorado College 4 0 2 — 7
Gophers 0 0 1 — 1

FIRST PERIOD: CC — Stuart (B. Swanson), 1:02. CC — Clark (Austin, B. Swanson), PPG, 9:54. CC — B. Swanson (Cullen, Peters), PPG, 12:23. CC — Nelson (Peters, Kryway), 17:36.
SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD: CC — Peterson (Morrison, Cullen), :41. Minn — Wendell 2 (Leopold 8, Smith 5), 7:30. CC — B. Swanson (Clark), 16:10.

FRIDAY
Colorado College 2 2 3 — 7
Gophers 1 0 0 — 1

FIRST PERIOD: Minn — Senden 1 (O’Leary 1, Wendell 1), 12:11. CC — B. Swanson (Clark, Heerema), 19:32. CC — Peterson (Cullen, Morrison), 19:58.
SECOND PERIOD: CC — Austin (B. Swanson, S. Swanson), PPG, 3:43. CC — Peterson (Peters, Cullen), 18:27.
THIRD PERIOD: CC — Morrison (Peterson, Cullen), 5:24. CC — Austin (Kryway), 5:52. CC — Peterson (Cullen, Morrison), 11:06.