Another tough task for men’s hockey this week

Josh Linehan

A hot goaltender is the ultimate hockey arbiter. In a true team sport, where 20 players spend 60 minutes battling for every edge, a goalie on a streak can still steal a win.
Minnesota learned that firsthand last Friday. After playing well enough to win, the Gophers had to settle for a 1-0 loss, thanks to a sterling performance by North Dakota netminder Karl Goehring.
The team-sport irony doesn’t get any easier this weekend.
Sophomore Minnesota State goalie Eric Pateman is coming off a 3-0 shutout of league-leading Wisconsin and is the main reason for the Mavericks’ success this season.
Pateman’s career record stands at 24-15-5 with a career save percentage of .913. Amazing numbers for a guy starting his career with a team in just its second year in the WCHA.
Fortunately for Minnesota, nearly every hockey adage can be countered by another; in this case, “A hot goalie can carry a team,” meets “A shot on net is never a bad play.”
“He’s going to make the first save 99 percent of the time,” sophomore forward John Pohl said of Pateman. “We’ve just got to shoot the puck, make him see a lot of rubber and crash the net hard.”
Minnesota probably won’t have to light up the scoreboard to win this weekend, however.
Gophers goalie Adam Hauser has been a sophomore sensation himself, stopping 67 of 70 shots in Grand Forks last weekend. Hauser is third in the WCHA with a .915 save percentage.

ù Minnesota is currently ranked 12th in the Pairwise rankings, the criteria the NCAA uses to determine which teams will make the NCAA tournament.
Despite the Gophers’ .500 record, Minnesota excels in many of the categories used to determine the tournament field, especially strength of schedule, where the Gophers are first in the nation.
With a 12-team field and conference winners receiving automatic bids, Minnesota stands an excellent chance to make the regionals with a strong second half.
And if the Gophers make the tournament, they’ll have home ice. The NCAA West Regionals begin March 24, and are being held at Mariucci Arena.

ù Sophomore forward Pat O’Leary will miss the Mankato series with injuries he received last Friday in Grand Forks. O’Leary went headfirst into the boards in North Dakota and is still suffering back pain.
O’Leary will undergo another evaluation on Monday.

Josh Linehan covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]