Gophers have chance to take over first place during trip to Madison

With the majority of Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams playing nonconference series this weekend, the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team has a chance to put themselves in a position they havenâÄôt seen for over a year âÄî sole possession of first place in the WCHA. Although Minnesota (2-0-0 overall, 2-0-0 WCHA) currently finds itself in a three-way tie for first place with Denver and Colorado College, a win or tie this weekend would put them ahead of the WCHA competition. If the Gophers can earn a single point this weekend in a road series with struggling Wisconsin (0-4-0 overall, 0-2-0 WCHA), they will retake the conferenceâÄôs top spot for the first time since March 3, 2007 when Minnesota clinched the MacNaughton Cup in a home sweep over Michigan Tech. Taking the conference driverâÄôs seat isnâÄôt a goal according to senior defenseman R.J. Anderson , who said the team wonâÄôt get too excited over the matter. âÄúItâÄôs not how you start the season, itâÄôs how you finish,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúIâÄôd much rather win other things than the MacNaughton Cup this year.âÄù The Gophers went all of last season without topping the WCHA charts and settled into the middle of the pack for much of the season. A sixth-place finish in the standings led to MinnesotaâÄôs first road playoff series since coach Don LuciaâÄôs first season in 1999-2000. Junior forward Tony Lucia said he doesnâÄôt think about last season and instead will âÄútry to take each year as it comes.âÄù âÄúWe know that within a season youâÄôre going to have its ups and downs,âÄù Tony Lucia said. âÄúYou canâÄôt expect to win every game, but weâÄôre just worrying about Friday.âÄù Stauber resigns Don Lucia also confirmed that Minnesota goaltending coach Robb Stauber has resigned. The 1988 Hobey Baker Award winner was entering his ninth season with the Gophers but cut ties with the program to spend more time with his family and business âÄî Stauber owns and operates Goalcrease, Inc. âÄúIt became more difficult for Rob the last year or two with his business Goalcrease and the amount of time he has to put in with that and his kids are getting to that age where they are becoming more involved,âÄù Lucia said. Lucia said Stauber is assisting the team in finding a replacement goalie coach, which Lucia said he would like to have either âÄúnext week or the week after.âÄù Conference honors Minnesota State junior forward Zach Harrison tied a WCHA and NCAA record with three shorthanded goals in the Mavericks 5-1 upset of North Dakota earned WCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Seawolves junior forward Kevin Clark scored twice and assisted on another pair of goals to earn the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week. Clark and Alaska Anchorage notched a pair of wins over Maine and Mercyhurst to win the first-ever Alaska Gold Rush tournament and at 3-1-0 are off to one of the programâÄôs best starts in years. Denver freshman defenseman Patrick Wiercioch also tallied twice and added two helpers to earn the conference Rookie of the Week award. Wiercioch recorded two goals and an assist in the Pioneers 6-5 win Friday night and added a second assist Saturday in DenverâÄôs 7-4 win that completed a sweep over Wisconsin.