I watched Gophers practice for about an hour on Saturday morning. My favorite drill was probably the one-on-one battles in the slot before the goalie.
There were two lines of players and a member of each line squared off about 20-25 feet from the goal. One player would try to push his way to the net, the other would try to prevent him from getting there.
As coach Don Lucia told somebody last season: “You can’t hide in this drill.”
Sophomore Jake Hansen got to the net against his man, then knocked Jake Kremer, the practice goalie down. Then he said something to Kremer while he was on his back. My guess it was little bravado. Maybe he said he was sorry, but I doubt that.
Perhaps not to be outdone Ryan Flynn, the co-captain, knocked Kremer down, too. Probably wise on the coaches’ part, not having No. 1 goalie Alex Kangas in there for this drill.
Lucia was working with the forwards in practice, assistant John Hill with the defenseman. Grant Potulny, the other assistant, was not at practice. At least the half I saw.
On Thursday, Lucia said Potulny was out recruiting. Maybe he was still not back.
I think Justin Johnson, the volunteer goalie coach, also came at about 9 a.m. Somebody that looked like a coach was shooting pucks at one of the goalies just before the Zamboni came out to resurface the ice.
What else did the Gophers do in practice?
Three on two drills going to the net.
They listened to a Lucia chalk talk. He was probably using an erasable marker, but chalk talk sounds better.
The defensemen were all wearing white practice jerseys. I didn’t like that. They looked more menacing last year when they wore black jerseys.
Heard the team when up north to Nico Sacchetti’s cabin from some male-bonding — OK, let’s say chemistry-building that sounds better in the offseason.
I imagine the players on British Columbia, the team the Gophers play Sunday, will pay special attention to Jordan Schroeder in the exhibition game.
Schroeder was huge news in Vancouver and nearby. The Canucks drafted him near the bottom of the first round. Vancouver reportedly had Schroeder No. 8 on their draft board and could not believed he fell to them.
Of course, every team uses that line.