Episode 37: Gophers men’s hockey falls to Mankato

In this week’s episode of the “Weekly Rundown,” our staff discusses the Gophers men’s hockey team’s tournament run, predictions for the Frozen Four and who might be in the lineup when the Gophers take the ice next season.

Nolan O'Hara and Julianna Landis

INTRO MUSIC PLAYS

NOLAN O’HARA: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the “Weekly Rundown,” presented by the Minnesota Daily. I’m your host, Nolan O’Hara. This last weekend we saw the Gophers in the NCAA hockey tournament where they beat Omaha in the first round but then lost in the second round to Mankato. Anna Landis, our men’s hockey beat reporter, is here to talk a little bit about these two games. So, we’ll jump in there and a little bit Anna, how’s it going?

ANNA LANDIS: Good. Good to be here.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah, I guess, you know, looking at this first game, the Gophers looked really good, beat Omaha 7-2, I guess what was clicking for them in that one?

LANDIS: Yeah, they, you know, they came out of the gate looking really good. After, you know, going kind of back-to-back, three games in three nights to win the Big Ten tournament, and they kind of kept that momentum going. And they just to note, they came out really fast. They were you know, they were kind of getting these gritty, kind of in-front-of-the-net goals, like they weren’t getting too cutesy with it or anything, I thought. Also, just looking at some highlights here just to refresh my memory a little bit, they were really good at kind of transitioning from, like, out of their zone through the neutral zone and then setting up and creating chances. And they were kind of able to skate around Omaha in a lot of instances. Because going into this game, they had not seen any teams from the NCHC at all this year, just because of circumstances with you know with — Bob Motzko calls it the boogeyman — COVID.

O’HARA: That’s a good one.

LANDIS: You know, obviously, the Big Ten was only playing the Big Ten, plus Arizona State, and then the NCHC was only playing each other and they actually did like a bubble sort of scenario. So they didn’t really see each other and coming into this game. If you look at Omaha’s roster, and you know, specifically if you go and you look at all the heights of all the players compared to all the, you know, heights of Gopher players, you’re kind of like, oh, that could be a problem. But in this game, they seem to be able to sort of outmaneuver them and get some quality scoring chances and really kind of took advantage of that. And they scored seven goals on the night. So not bad.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah, I know. I was planning to watch that game, but I didn’t catch a second of it. After I turned on the Duluth-North Dakota game, and that ended up taking longer than the Gophers’ game did.

LANDIS: Yeah, set some records. I think it was like quintuple overtime, five overtime series. Almost two games in one night.

O’HARA: Over two games. Almost three games.

LANDIS: Yeah. I don’t know. I’m not good at math. But yeah, it was, that was crazy. I mean, you know, obviously, we were watching at home. We were like flipping back and forth. Because, you know, Duluth was in overtime. The game could be over at any second and Minnesota seemed to be handling themselves. Okay. But yeah, it was, you know, a lot of hockey that night.

O’HARA: For sure. That was a good hockey night. And one thing that stood out from the Gophers game, Brock Faber, freshmen defenseman, he had five assists, I guess, what were your thoughts on the way he played? Kind of, you know, doing a little bit of everything for them?

LANDIS: Yeah, he. I mentioned this in the gamer I wrote, but I believe he tied a school record for like a single night of assists with five and, you know, five assists out of a seven-goal night, that’s really notable. He was right from like, the first goal of the game. He was involved. He was, you know, kind of crashing the net and making plays, kind of getting jumped up and getting involved in the play as a defenseman, which is something Minnesota’s defenseman do really well, I think they are, you know, very modern, sort of like Bobby Orr type defensemen, and that they are very mobile and they, they score goals, and they, you know, they get involved in the play, and he was doing a really good job of that on Saturday.

O’HARA: Yeah, that seems to really have been the backbone for this team this season. You know, him and LaCombe and Ryan Johnson, they have so much depth at defense there. And like you said, they are very mobile and able to score and get pucks at the net. Then the next game of the tournament, you know, we look at this Mankato game that didn’t go quite as well. What were some of the struggles for the Gophers, it seemed like they just weren’t able to get any shots on net?

LANDIS: Yeah. And it kinda you know, I guess, the Minnesota State game, or the Mankato game, I’ve always called them Mankato State my whole life, but like, apparently that is not the technical way to refer to them.

O’HARA: I know, I think it’s Minnesota State Mankato, but now they’re even dropping the Mankato. So I think it’s just Minnesota State. Yeah. Not sure what they’re doing over there.

LANDIS: People were chatting about it on Twitter, and I was just like, add, you know, the team that’s not Minnesota. But basically, they, there’s a lot of factors that could have contributed to this game, I think. And it’s, I think that’s important because, like, if you just look at it on paper, it’s like, wow, they really, like messed up, they really dropped the ball on that one. Like, and you don’t, it’s hard to understand, like, why because I think with the isolation this year, also, maybe Gopher fans haven’t been paying attention to other conferences as much. But, you know, like Minnesota came in, they’re in a different time zone. I mean, both teams are, but when they played Omaha, they were playing at 9 p.m. Mountain Time, which is 10 p.m. you know, internally, if you’ve, you know, it’s central time, and then the week before that, like I said they played three games in three nights to win the Big Ten. So they were kind of disadvantaged in that sense in terms of rest. And then also in the Omaha game, Brannon McManus, he left during the game because he got injured. And so when playing Mankato State, he came out, you know, he said he was gonna, I guess he made the decision to try and play through it. He was only able to play about half the game Motzko said afterward.

And another thing that really contributed was Mankato State came out and they were like, guns blazing right away. And it was uncharacteristic for Minnesota because I guess you know if you look at the shots by period, Mankato State came out or Mankato, whoever the Mavericks, they came out, they scored or they had 14 shots on goal in the first period, Minnesota had five, which is not great, by like, any standard compared to you know, any other game they played this year like that is markedly low. That’s, you know, in 20 minutes of play, like that is not good. And basically what from my observation, what I really saw as some of the issues is that Mankato State was blocking a lot of shots. That was kind of consistent throughout the game. And then also they Mankato State was for checking like very strongly like it was a complete contrast to the night before, I guess in terms of their play, because unlike against Omaha, they, Minnesota really struggled to kind of get in their zone and get like sustain offensive opportunities in their own zone, they weren’t really able to establish themselves in their zone and kind of get, like their nice little pass and going they weren’t really able to come in with their speed. And then right away in the first period, Minnesota State, they did score, oh, sorry, they did score twice, like right away. And that really sort of shifted the momentum. Motzko said, postgame when Mankato State came out, and they were playing like that, he said something to the effect of, “If we had just been able to get through the first period and like, kind of held it down, and then maybe, you know, gone to the locker room and without those two goals happening, it might have been different or if we had been able to get one that you know, that could have been big too,” but it was it just didn’t happen in two. I think something that I noticed was the goals that Mankato State scored, they were sort of like fluky sort of goals.

And I noticed this in the Omaha game, too. With LaFontaine, one in the Omaha game, I think he just got screener, he didn’t see it, but there was one goal. The second goal that Omaha scored, they went five-hole. And normally like I guess, LaFontaine, what he tried to do and what you normally do in that situation is if like, you kind of catch it, you kind of like pinch it, and then you go away from the goal. And then you like, let go because like, if you don’t really have good control of the talk, you want to get away from the goal. So it doesn’t, like trickle in behind you. But he wasn’t really able to do that. And he was kind of laying just like prone in front of the goal. And then he might have got pushed a little bit either by his own teammates or just by Mankato State, but that goal in the Omaha game was kind of uncharacteristic. And then I think there was one there was one in the Minnesota State game like that to the first goal that the Mavericks scored, they, they like came around the back of the net. And like, basically just like scooped one in, off like in between like the left post, and LaFontaine’s pad, which normally I don’t know, it was just they were kind of goals where you’re like, they kind of jar you a little bit, I think because you’re like, ‘Oh, like that doesn’t normally happen.’

But yeah, and then just from there, I guess, I don’t know, like you said, we were talking about this earlier, but they’re often just, it just wasn’t really there. Like face-offs, only two guys on Minnesota’s roster. When like, overall, we won, like 30-31 of 60 face-offs, but overall, only two players won more faceoffs than they lost. Okay, and just looking at the stats online. I had a slight moment of confusion here. But yeah, okay, so only two of their, of Minnesota’s players won more faceoffs than they lost. That was Ben Meyers and Scott Reedy, Ben 11-5. And then Scott Reedy won six and lost two. Jaxson Nelson, he, like almost went .500 he won five and lost six. And then notably, Sammy Walker and Blake McLaughlin only won one each out of six and four faceoffs, respectively. Jack Perbix won three and lost five, so kind of in the middle there, but that well, it came out to me about half and half that you know, through a game that’s sort of not the stats you want to see coming out of your, your standards or your forwards because you mean faceoffs are really key to like creating that momentum and like scoring off of faceoffs. And like all of that is really important. And they could have had more opportunities to do that, especially because they were struggling so much to kind of break into their own zone if they had one more face-off, you know, at the dots in front of Mankato’s goalie that could have changed a lot could have given them a lot more opportunities to get pucks on net with they just really struggled to do through the first two periods.

Like I said earlier, they only got five shots on in the first and then they only got four on in the second period, which is really just like, that’s like taking five minutes to generate a chance per period. And that’s, that’s not great. They did a little better in the third with 13. But they just never really got a jump on it. And two they had they had kind of some dumb penalties. That was something they did. Or they avoided doing in Omaha, they only really got into the box I think once, and then against Mankato, they got to penalties right away in the first for tripping. And then they got called for tripping again later in the game. And then you know, that’s kind of a referee thing. And that kind of changes by game but like, that’s, that’s kind of stuff you don’t really want to be doing in such an important game. I mean, obviously, you know, it’s unavoidable and, and both teams they played against got penalties on them too. But if you keep that tighter, then you’re kind of playing desperate, less of the time because, you know, having to kill off all those penalties while you’re down. And while you’re not generating chances, that’s, that’s kind of stressful. And I think in that Mankato game, they were kind of tense, I think because partly they hadn’t really seen a team that was like that big. And that kind of skated that well and was that older than them? The only really comparable team they kind of saw with Mankato’s like physicality, I guess, would be Notre Dame, but they kind of solved that throughout the, you know, in their meetings, they ended up sweeping Notre Dame in the regular season and I think, after playing Omaha, and kind of beating up on them a little bit, they were like, ‘Oh, like, maybe the NCHC and I don’t know,’ but, you know, I think maybe they kind of got like an A, they kind of got a little more confident than maybe they should have been and maybe they were, you know, it was because we saw that a couple times throughout the season. You know, they swept people and then they got, you know, like eight or eight or nine goals scored on them by Wisconsin at one weekend, or the one game against Wisconsin.

So I think they were playing kind of tense because they didn’t really know what they were getting into like you can only like really look at film. So like film is only so helpful and obviously, it is helpful to a degree especially if you haven’t seen a team, but I think being on the ice against that was something they just didn’t really have experience with and when we kind of saw that this season like when they came up against Notre Dame the first time or when Madison did that, Wisconsin did that to them. They didn’t, they kind of froze a little bit. They didn’t really have a good response. And I think Motzko touched on that in his press conference. Obviously, that press conference was a little emotional, it was a little, it was a little tough because it was, he had been talking like this whole last month, basically, or like, last couple of weeks, I talked to him. He was like, you know, the seniors, they’ve had such a weird year. We have such a good team; I want them to be a part of getting this team back to the Frozen Four and I think we have the group that’s good enough to do that. And to fall one game short is like, I tweeted this out, but it’s a heartbreaker of a way for this team to go out because like, especially to get shut out like that. And it’s, I don’t know, but he said in his and his presser after Mankato State, he did say, you know, maybe if we had just had opportunities to see this more to see teams like this in the regular season, maybe we would have been better prepared for it. But you know, because we weren’t able to or because we didn’t see anything like this in the regular season. We weren’t. They didn’t really like, have the experience to respond to it.

O’HARA: Yeah, that’s been a struggle for a lot of teams this year, just not having the opportunity to play a nonconference schedule; on all levels of sports, really kind of this amateur world, you know, both in college and in high school, too. I know that’s been tough for some teams that like dominate their conference, but then you get in, you play a good team for the first time all year, you’re not really sure what to expect. And the Gophers didn’t have a chance to play a lot of these more physical teams outside of you know, Notre Dame, and then Mankato there in the playoffs. But you know, one thing too, it’s, you know, obviously, last game of the season is always a tough one, especially when you’re losing, you know, making the playoff run, so what was kind of the vibe, you mentioned it a little bit about of the locker room? And what were some of the things, you know, Motzko and then some of the other guys were saying?

LANDIS: Yeah, so we heard from Motzko first in the press conference. And he, you know, he did say some things about I’m just trying to think here, he said, “You know, there were a lot of factors that kind of played into, like, maybe why they didn’t have such a good response tonight.” And, you know, again, like the kind of the momentum of like, if they had been able to get one right away in the first period, or if they had been able to kind of hold on in that first period, and like, kind of keep themselves together without getting down by two right away, then that might have changed it a lot. But what he did say, after two, I think I asked him kind of about, oh, I asked him about the seniors, because I’ve, you know, I’ve been trying to talk to the seniors for a while, but they you know, they’ve been traveling, they’ve been busy. But what he did say was I asked him, you know like you really wanted this your senior class to like be a part of bringing them back to the Frozen Four because every basically every other like, important milestone of their senior season, whether that be on the ice or in school is basically like, not really possible right now.

And I said what are you saying to them right now, and something I’ve always appreciated about Motzko is like, he doesn’t do the, like, the like, upset male coach thing where he just like snaps or like, doesn’t respond to a question. He said, you know, he always says something, the effect of like, and he said it a couple times in the press conference, like, it’s going to take a couple days to like to like know what to say, you know, because like you’re sitting with a right now and it hurt, and I appreciate that because like, you know, some coaches in other sports and in hockey, they, you know, so I respect the fact that he’s like, he admits that like, it’s hard to know what to say right now because it hurts and he said, I’m going to read this, just this quote, this quote is in my gamer, if you want to read it, if you’re listening.

O’HARA: Always got to plug the gamers.

LANDIS: Yeah, I was gonna plug the gamers. Um, so basically on the senior class, he said, and I think you know, of the team overall, he said, “They were all in it was a true team. And we showed that all year long,” you know, this, and then he kind of trailed off and he said, “You take this game to your grave,” which was like, like, you know, because I’m like, an empathetic person. Like I, you know, I grew up playing sports and like, I know, like, this stuff, is hard too, you know, deal with as like an athlete and I imagine as a coach, like, like, I don’t know how I would do I don’t know and he said, “but this entire season, there were so many positives in it by so many players and our staff, it’s just hard to look at right now, because you’re hurting.” And I think that that kind of sums it up like, you know, Minnesota not really facing any physical teams.

Really, it kind of was their downfall in the end. But looking back to the start of the season, they were undefeated for like, weeks straight, like they went 10-0, and really dominant. No, they were really dominant. And it’s, I think it was, it was a tougher loss, because you almost had the Omaha game right before it and it was like, this is a testament to like, when this team is on, like, this is what they can do. And they can, you know, we can have our one of our defensemen, who’s his first year playing college hockey, he goes out and he ties a school record, he assists on five goals like that, you know, like they have like so much depth and talent, but then sometimes it’s stuff that just doesn’t click in it, you know, that offense isn’t, isn’t there.

O’HARA: It’s the nature of hockey, you know, sometimes the puck just doesn’t bounce your way.

LANDIS: Yeah. And actually, Sammy Walker did, he said something about that. This is in regards to LaFontaine, because I, I was kind of curious as to how, like what they were saying to him throughout the game, and then they did pull him at the end of the game, which is like, I don’t think they’d have to check but I don’t think they ever did that in the regular season. They might I think they swapped goalies a few times. But pulling a goalie for an empty net. They rarely did that. And so Walker said to you know, something to the effect of like, or not Walker LaFontaine. “He played great, and it wasn’t his fault at all. It just Mankato, you know, they had some lucky bounces in the bounces they just didn’t go our way,” and that and like you said, you know that that is kind of that’s how it goes sometimes because like I know I talked about shot-blocking earlier, but Mankato State, they blocked 23 shots at you know that’s like a game’s worth of shots on net that they just didn’t that didn’t turn into chances because of that shot-blocking and so you know, things like that and sort of you know, factors like the shot-blocking, the fore-checking, I think in the gamer I referred to it as they were just getting hemmed out of their zone, like they didn’t really, they weren’t able to like push and get like established in their zone and like really get anything going so it was I don’t know it was just, you know, it happens.

O’HARA: Yeah, and all around you know, really solid you know, defensive performance from Mankato, all credit to them they put together a heck of a game you know, one thing interesting too, looking forward to the hockey season basically all college athletes can come back for an extra year of eligibility now. I’m kind of looking at the hockey team, has there been anybody who’s like indicated interest in coming back and what is the roster expecting this season?

LANDIS: This is something I still have to look into because it’s a little muddier with hockey and just like from my understanding of it like in football or volleyball, if you have like a someone who’s like redshirting, it’s like very clear and like you use that language and you know, that the situation but with hockey, I guess, you know, maybe I missed the memo, but at least some of the players they did have like a fifth-year option I know. Who was that, shout out to Jess Myers on Twitter. He writes for the Rink Live. He was keeping a close eye on this. I think Jared Moe, backup goaltender, he did enter the transfer portal and I believe a few other players did too, but I don’t think LaFontaine did, but there was a goalie, I don’t know if you could, I wouldn’t call him a prospect but like someone Minnesota was recruiting who had been playing up with the Fargo Force, who also committed as a goaltender and I guess he was putting up some pretty good numbers. So we don’t really, we don’t really know yet. There’s been there’s been stuff going around on Twitter, but there’s not, I have not that I have seen any way that would that is like concrete. I did hear just this morning actually that Scott Reedy, he’s got this discovery. He’s a senior, he was expected to be like signing with and I heard this like just from a friend, but I heard that he was going to be like signing his contract. He’s with the San Jose Sharks. So I guess they were expecting to get him out there pretty soon.

O’HARA: I imagine was it Tampa who drafted LaFontaine?

LANDIS: Carolina.

O’HARA: Carolina. I imagine he’s making his way to the pros, unless that’s something where he really wants to come back.

LANDIS: Right. That’s something I’m not sure about because I did see some people talking about like, well, okay, maybe this Fargo First goal goalie signing and Moe entering the transfer portal. Like, okay, maybe this Fargo Force guy and I apologize, I don’t remember his name right now. But him coming in like, okay, he’d be the number one because like, he’s good. But then also if, and I was under the impression that LaFontaine had used up all of his NCAA eligibility, because if people remember he did do two years at Michigan. Yes, for this, but then with the COVID year, with the COVID year, he could come back. And like, I don’t imagine, I mean, LaFontaine put up some of the best numbers in the country. So I have a hard time imagining a scenario where Minnesota says, please, please move along. Now. You know, like, you look good.

O’HARA: Right? If he’s willing to come back.

LANDIS: If he is willing and able to come back, I would imagine, they would want him back. But also, you know, he is he, you know, he was drafted like 70-75 overall, he’s a third-round pick. And Carolina might want him to get to camp and get working because he is older. You know, because he played in Michigan and then he, he took some time off and then he did further develop in the BCHL. British Columbia Hockey League. Yeah. BCHL. And so he, again, at this point, we don’t know for sure, but it is possible the roster could look different. I am just looking right now. And yeah, so again, credit to Jess Myers for staying on top of this. Players entering, this is from Twitter, players entering the transfer portal have the option to transfer. It does not sever their ties with their current school. So in theory he could return, as far as Jared Moe, he, if LaFontane decides to move on to the next level, he could come back. Like the transfer portal does not is not, from what I can tell. And I don’t again, I don’t know if it works differently in other sports, but um, it nothing’s confirmed right now.

O’HARA: Yeah. If it’s the transfer portal, yeah, you can always opt to come back. Yes. But yeah, it’s always the question of will they, and at least, you know, willing to keep their options open, in those kind of situations. But, you know, I guess as the season’s over here, what kind of are your overall thoughts on this team and the way they played? You know, going back it’s, it’s all it’s all said and done now. I guess what, yeah, I guess what was it like covering this team this year? And, and moving on next year now?

LANDIS: Yeah, I think this with this team and this year, this year was a long year. And, you know, I will be the first to admit that, you know, as their beat reporter on their college on-campus paper, I could have done a lot more, I could have, you know, but this year was, you know, it was kind of tough. And it was weird with like, the way they split up the season. And they had, you know, that little break. But I think from the beginning it was very clear that like, they had the potential to go all the way like they had all the right ingredients. They had a really solid goaltender and not just LaFontaine, they had you know, Moe, the games he got in he did solid as well, and they had those really mobile defensemen, they were young, they were fast. Their offense was, you know, when it clicked it went crazy like Scott, you know, Scott Reedy, Sampo Ranta, McManus, McLaughlin, they had all the right pieces.

And it’s hard to, to say, I don’t know, you know, they could they, you know, they were right there. And I think from the beginning to the end, it was they did what they were expected. I don’t know if they did what they were expected to do, but they had the potential to get to where they were at the end of the season. Like the whole time. Like you could tell like This was clear last year to like that, like, whenever they talk about the team, like anyone from the team, they’re so like, close about it. And they believe in their team, like so much. You know, it’s like, it’s kind of the same vibe you get from those like, P.J. Fleck like hype up talks in his press conferences like, they had it. And you know, it was and over the course of the season, it was like, last year, it was like, oh, they might have it. If it like if XYZ, like you’d see flashes of it. But then, like this season, I guess it was I just lost my train of thought, but they like they had that thing. Like, the whole time like they had that like X-factor, and it was clear that like, okay, like they could do this and they almost did they were just a couple of games short.

O’HARA: Yeah. But you know, that’s the way the puck is a goofy thing and it’ll bounce your way some nights and not others, but you know, looking at this final for Frozen Four for hockey, I suppose. This field, three Minnesota teams, not the Gophers, but three other Minnesota teams. You got St. Cloud playing Mankato and then Duluth playing UMass. What are your predictions of for how this unfolds here?

LANDIS: Well, see, Duluth is an interesting one because they were able to skate into, you know, late into the night against North Dakota without anyone really like, you know, collapsing on ice or anything. Obviously, their goalie, they switched out the goalies, cramped up, which in my opinion, I think that might have been because at the end of that game, I mean, North Dakota’s goalie, your state, you’re standing out there on goalie skates for five hours. I don’t know if you can, like get your five-hole. I don’t know. But I thought…

O’HARA: At the same time, though, it’s hard to take out, he can’t take out a goalie when they’re hot either. Like both those guys are playing a great game.

LANDIS: I think it’s to Duluth’s benefit that they have a little bit of time to like rest. Yeah. Like, you know, they probably need to go like sit in some like tubs full of ice after that one and like really, like, get recuperating, and you know, because you don’t want them coming into like, after pulling that off. You want them to be like as healthy as possible. Admittedly, UMass like Eastern East Coast hockey? I don’t know we can. I have not done real thorough scouting on the East, basically on teams that aren’t in the Big Ten this year, to be honest, but um, that could be interesting.

O’HARA: Yeah, me with basketball.

LANDIS: Let’s uh, we don’t have to talk about my March Madness bracket. But uh, that could be an interesting game. Remind me again of who’s playing sorry.

O’HARA: St. Cloud plays Mankato and then you have Duluth playing UMass.

LANDIS: St. Cloud playing Mankato and Duluth-UMass.

O’HARA: I think was the 2019 championship game.

LANDIS: Oh, was it Duluth one? Yeah, that’ll be interesting. Then there’ll be a bit of a rematch?

O’HARA: Yeah, rematch there.

LANDIS: Yeah. And then St. Cloud? Oh, well, okay. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me earlier. But the storyline in the St. Cloud, Mankato game is or wait now. I got that wrong. The Duluth coach. And when his son is at Mankato State.

O’HARA: Yeah Sandelin, he was scored the game-winner when they played whoever they played before the Gophers.

LANDIS: Quinnipiac. Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know how to pronounce that. But yeah, that’s an interesting storyline. I know in the Mankato State was playing the Gophers they like had Sandelin’s mom, and like the wife of that coach, they had her like, talk in and so that’ll be interesting to see because that’s, you know, it’s kind of this little like family affair thing. And to Mankato again, with like, like hockey families, St. Cloud state, I was watching one of their games and I think they also have a Perbix and a McLaughlin. I think they have some brothers, some brothers up there. I think it’s McLaughlin, I might be no, it’s Brodzinski. They have a Brodzinski up there. One of them. So that should be interesting. I believe Brodzinski, who plays for St. Cloud state. I think he was injured pretty badly. In his regional, I think he took a knee-on-knee hit or something.

O’HARA: Oh yeah, that was rough, he was like down on the ice.

LANDIS: Yeah, I was. Um, but yeah, I think that should be really good games I’m interested to see them because, you know, like I said I haven’t really seen those teams yet so I’m interested to see what they could do because honestly, I wasn’t expecting what we got out of the NCHC like, after we beat Omaha that badly I was like, okay, like maybe the NCHC cheese not all that does no, I was wrong. So that, you know, that could be those could be really good games to see. You know, those teams’ kind of face-off for the first time this year, you know, because everyone’s been, you know, kind of like comparing notes, I guess on like, how each conference has progressed through the season and like, where the cards fall at the end should be interesting to see.

O’HARA: Any predictions?

LANDIS: Oh, God, I don’t know. I think, see, that’s my issue. You asked me a question. I just rambled for like, oh…

O’HARA: You’re good.

LANDIS: No, I think um, I don’t know. I think Duluth-Mankato.

O’HARA: That’s what I was gonna go with two Sandelins are gonna be playing each other.

LANDIS: Yeah. Cause if you will look at and that would be like a great you know, ending like God, like, you know, you’re like your family. Okay, who do you even cheer for? Right, but I think that should be an interesting game. I think the Duluth roster is a little bit older than like, you know, they kind of been there before. Like, there’s kind of like old news at this point going to the Frozen Four.

O’HARA: Freshman goalie though.

LANDIS: Oh, yeah. Well, and that could be interesting because I think I believe Mankato State’s goalie, he is a senior.

O’HARA: He did hold up, that freshman goalie held up pretty darn good against North Dakota though.

LANDIS: Yeah, their two goalies they did, Duluth’s two goalies did well. But yeah, I think seeing Duluth and Mankato in the final would be interesting kind of get some Minnesota action in there. And I saw just some like insane stats on like, the number of Minnesota-born players in the Frozen Four it was something like, there were like 44 kids from Minnesota and then like Michigan, Ontario, Massachusetts is like 9,10 and 11 like something, you know.

O’HARA: Minnesota, that’s where all the hockey players are from.

LANDIS: I know, state of hockey, so we’ll be well-represented either way, but I think I don’t know. I think I think I might like to see Duluth win at all after, cause this has been old news for a couple of weeks. But North Dakota was the No. 1 seed because Minnesota we were you know, after the Big Ten we were like, okay, maybe, you know, Minnesota is gonna get the No. 1 seed because they pulled this off, winning the Big Ten tournament. They didn’t, North Dakota got it. And then they got knocked out. And so I think maybe, you know, I mean, within the rankings and everything if they were able to beat North Dakota. You know, they could probably, I think, you know, they could probably pull off another one, hopefully not go into as many overtimes.

O’HARA: Yeah, I need some sleep eventually. I can’t watch another five-overtime game, but I think we’re on the same page. I’m picking Duluth to win too. I think they’re gonna go, I don’t know if you can call it back-to-back because there was no tournament last year, but they won the last two before that. They won it at least the year before.

LANDIS: Cause there wasn’t, there wasn’t one in 2020.

O’HARA: Right. So I’m gonna say that they’re gonna go back-to-back. That’s my big prediction for this hockey tournament.

LANDIS: Yeah, well, we’ll see. And they’re in Pittsburgh for over spring break, which is a little unfortunate. Because after you know, after that Omaha game, my parents were like, “Can you go to Pittsburgh?” Like, we should go to Pittsburgh, and like, you should cover the game. And I was like, yeah, and then we didn’t go. But that’s, you know, it’s not safe to be traveling right now. Anyway, folks. So there’s that.

O’HARA: There it is. Yeah.

LANDIS: That’s the lesson. Podcast, don’t travel if you don’t have to.

O’HARA: Which guess we don’t have to now but would have been fun to try to go.

LANDIS: It would have been.

O’HARA: Yeah, thank you so much for joining on the podcast here and good to chat about the hockey team. And we’ll be waiting for next year. See what happens.

LANDIS: Yeah, and in the meantime, still got one more soccer game and I will be on I’ll be on softball too.

O’HARA: Definitely check out all of your articles online, got to plug it.

LANDIS: All, click on the links on my Twitter, read all of my articles, retweet my articles, hashtag support women in sports.

O’HARA: There we go. Well, thanks again for hopping on.

LANDIS: Yeah, thanks for having me.

OUTRO MUSIC PLAYS