Effort isn’t enough: U searching for offense

by Tim Nichols

This weekend’s series with St. Cloud State was indicative of the Gophers men’s hockey team’s problems all season.
Good effort, no offense.
Minnesota outshot the Huskies 87-to-52 and had five more power plays than St. Cloud State, but the Gophers could not score when it mattered.
Minnesota and St. Cloud State played to a pair of ties, 4-4 on Friday and 2-2 on Saturday.
“It’s depressing,” freshman defenseman Jordan Leopold said. “Somehow, we have got to find a way to work around this.”
To make matters worse, Minnesota’s defense has shown a penchant to give up “bang-bang” goals. Eight times this year, the Gophers have allowed two goals within a minute to the opposition.
The most recent of these offenses came Friday in St. Cloud, when Geno Parrish and Nate DiCasmirro scored 36 seconds apart to tie the game at 3-3.
“One play can change the whole frickin’ deal,” a visibly frustrated coach Doug Woog said. “One play, the breakaway (goal by Parrish).”
Another painful factor for the Gophers was their inability to capitalize on several scoring chances in the second period of both games.
St. Cloud State provided the Gophers with eight second-period power plays, four in each game. But Minnesota made good on only one opportunity and finished the series with a dismal 2-for-11 showing on the power play.
St. Cloud State coach Craig Dahl gave his team a lot of credit for fighting through the shorthanded situations.
“They called four penalties in a row on us,” Dahl said. “We were short-handed for eight minutes there. It was ridiculous. That takes you all out of your flow, with guys on the bench for eight minutes. It’s hard killing four penalties in a row, I don’t care who you are.”
Even with the Huskies’ solid play in their own zone, Minnesota still had plenty of quality shots at freshman goaltender Dean Weasler.
But like it has been so many times before, Minnesota just could not get the job done.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” junior Dave Spehar said. “Dean was good and made the stops. But we should have buried our chances, especially myself.”
Spehar’s streak of not scoring an even-strength goal was extended to 35 games. He did, however, score his 10th power play goal of the season in the third period of Saturday’s tie.
For the most part, the same things that killed the Gophers earlier in the season are killing them now. The question is whether Minnesota will be able to turn things around in time for the playoffs.
“In practice, we can just practice burying the puck,” Spehar said. “Hopefully, it will carry into the games. We’ve been saying all along that we were going to break out of this and I truly do believe that one day we’ll put the pucks in the net.”