Gophers men’s hockey


U men’s puck: Fairchild said D-men will score more this season

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Junior defenseman Cade Fairchild had a goal and two assists in the Gophers’ 6-1 victory over British Columbia on Sunday. “It was a good game for us just to get our feet wet,” he said. “Some of the freshmen got a chance to get in there, maybe take out some of their nerves, get used to playing in Mariucci.

“It was definitely a confidence-builder for our team. It was good for us to play an opponent that we did not know anything about. It was a chance for us to try out our systems and that kind of thing.”

Fairchild scored midway through the second period on a shot from the top of the right circle. His assists came on Jay Barriball’s power-play goal in the first period and Nico Sacchetti’s goal in the third. BC had only 11 shots on goal. 

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U men’s puck: Sacchetti happy to be on ice again

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Sophomore center Nico Sacchetti had a goal and two assists as the Gophers beat British Columbia. On his goal, he spun around and fired a shot from the top of the right circle. His goal came at 12 minutes, 20 seconds of the third period. Late last season, Gophers coach Don Lucia called Sacchetti as natural goal-scorer but he didn’t score much as a freshmen.

 ”It just felt good to get back out there,” Sacchetti said. “It has been a long summer of working out hard.

“We didn’t have line combinations. I played with different guys, every line. When I scored I was with Tony [Lucia] and Jay [Barriball]. And they said, ‘You guys had a good shift. You can get one more shift together.’

“[Coach Don Lucia] doesn’t know who is going to play together. It is so early. There are so many guys and there is so much competition for lines right now.

“Everybody is skating as hard as they can. He is trying to figure out who meshes well with who.”

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U men’s puck: Lot of positives from exhibition win

Monday, October 5th, 2009

After the Gophers-British Columbia game, coach Don Lucia and two of his players came out for postgame interviews. The U won 6-1 on Sunday.

Lucia came out first and said his players were all excited about the Twins’ playoff game versus the Detroit Tigers at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. They asked him if practice could be canceled that day.

His reply? “No,” Lucia said. “I said, ‘They [the Twins] don’t get a day off if we have a big game.’ ”

* Assessment of the game: “We had the puck a lot, which was good. It’s typical, you give up a goal when you turn one over. But I thought our seniors did a good job tonight. We talked about, they have to lead. I thought we moved the puck well. Our power play did a good job, a couple of goals. We did a good job killing [penalties.]

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U men’s puck: Regional ticket news

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Here is a U of M release on tickets for the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey West Regional:

A year after hosting the 2009 event at Mariucci Arena, the University of Minnesota is teaming up with the Xcel Energy Center to bring the 2010 West Regional to St. Paul on Friday, March 26, and Saturday, March 27.

All-session packages for the two-day event are priced at $94. The packages went on sale Thursday.

Each 2010 Men’s Ice Hockey West Regional package includes one ticket to Session I (Friday, March 26 – two games) and one ticket to Session II (Saturday, March 27).

If Minnesota qualifies for the NCAA tournament, the Gophers will automatically be assigned to the West Regional.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Xcel Energy Center box office, by calling Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone using Ticketmaster TDD/TTY, call 800-359-2525.

Fans purchasing their tickets during the month of October will have the opportunity to win two tickets to the 2010 Men’s Frozen Four, which will also be held at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.

For more information on the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey West Regional please visit www.xcelenergycenter.com or www.gophersports.com.

NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey West Regional

Friday, March 26, 2010 – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, Minn.

West Regional Semifinal #1 – 4:30 p.m.

West Regional Semifinal #2 – 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 27, 2010 – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, Minn.

West Regional Final – 8 p.m.

U men’s puck: The party line on Gophers’ win

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Jim Strick, the sports information guy at the U for men’s hockey, ran the Twin Cities Marathon in the morning, just missing a Boston Marathon qualifying time for next year. But by late afternoon, he was the Gophers exhibition game. Here is his story on the game: 

Minnesota looked in midseason form despite just one day of official practice prior to Sunday’s 6-1 exhibition men’s hockey victory over British Columbia at Mariucci Arena.

Six different players scored goals as the Gophers scored two goals in each period and used a shutdown defense to limit the Thunderbirds to 11 shots, including two in the third period. Minnesota also had a solid night on special teams, finishing two-for-three on the power play and holding British Columbia scoreless on all three of its power play tries.

The Gophers outshot the Thunderbirds 44-11 and reached a scoring total they hit just four times in 37 games last season. Cade Fairchild, Jay Barriball and Nico Sacchetti each finished with a goal and two assists for Minnesota, while Jordan Schroeder and Tony Lucia each had a goal and an assist.

(Oops, that’s wrong. Schroeder did not have a goal. He had two assists and almost got a goal short-handed but officials watch the play and ruled the goalie stopped the puck before it crossed the goal line.)

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WCHA: UMD shuts out Gophers opponent

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Minnesota Duluth played British Columbia on Satuday at the DECC and beat the Thunderbirds 4-0. Today BC plays the Gophers at 4 p.m. at Mariucci Arena.

Here is the UMD-BC story from the Bulldogs’ web site: 

In its first — and only — dress rehearsal before it begins playing for keeps in six days, the University of Minnesota Duluth skated off with a convincing 4-0 exhibition triumph over the University of British Columbia Saturday night at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

The Bulldogs, who outshot the Thunderbirds 39-22, got a pair of goals from sophomore center Jack Connolly to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission before Connolly’s linemate, junior right winger Justin Fontaine, scored twice (including a shorthander) within a span of 86 seconds in the third period to seal the win. The sophomore goaltending tandem of Brady Hjelle (15 saves in 31: 00 of work) and Kenny Reiter (seven stops) combined for the shutout.

Twenty three of the 26 players on Bulldog roster took part in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs (defensemen Trent Palm and Chase Ryan were both sidelined with injuries while rookie goaltender Aaron Crandall suited up but did not play).

UMD, which hiked its lifetime record to 30-3-2 versus Canadian Universities, will open the 2009-10 regular season next Friday by taking on Lake Superior State University at the DECC before hosting another Central Collegiate Hockey Association foe, Northern Michigan University, two nights later in a pair of Superior Cup games.

U men’s puck: They’re battling each other

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

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.

  

U men’s puck: First practice in the books

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

The players on the Gophers men’s hockey team were up early on Saturday morning. Not to get the best student seats at TCF Bank Stadium, but to practice.

They were on the ice sometime around 8 a.m. Not sure exactly because I didn’t get to the arena until about 8:15, 8:20.

Practices are not among my favorite things to go to. Besides I had to stop at the Strib to pick up my binoculars. Had to have them to see the little black numbers on the back of the yellow helmets.

Those numbers were the only way I could identify the players. Their practice jerseys did not have numbers.

Oh, I could figure out who some of them were without numbers. Saw Jordan Schroeder, smooth skater, smooth passer.

Saw Seth Helgeson, he’s 6-5. A few others.

Here were the line combinations Saturday morning:

* First line, Maroon: Jordan Schroeder at center and Jay Barriball on his right wing and Mike Hoeffel on his left wing. Schroeder and Barriball were together all last season. Hoeffel replaces Ryan Stoa, who signed with Colorado.

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U men’s practice: 8 a.m. Saturday at Maroosh

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

The Gophers men’s hockey team held their sixth and last one-hour preseason practice with coaches on Friday. In the three weeks before practices officially start, coaches can work with their players two hours a week, according to NCAA rules.

The puck drops for real at 8 a.m. Saturday. The Gophers will probably work out for about 1-1/2 hours on the ice, and maybe have a team meeting beforehand. That seems to be the routine in recent years. Of course, I was half asleep and it’s all a blur.

My boss doesn’t make me go to the first practice, but I probably will. I like to see who is playing with who on the forward lines and the defensive pairs.

Coach Don Lucia said Thursday that the best three players won’t necessarily be on his top three lines. He is looking for the three with the best chemistry.

In preseason practices, sophomore Jordan Schroeder, who will center the first line, has usually played with Jay Barriball. Those two were together all last season, but Ryan Stoa is gone from that line.

Barriball said several players have been tried at left wing, including Mike Carman and Mike Hoeffel.

As for the defensive pairs, Lucia said he wants a combination of skill and braun on the ice. So look for little guys to be paired with big guys at the start.

In the nets, Alex Kangas, the team’s top goals the last 1-1/2 seasons, still holds that spot. But Lucia said he made a mistake last season not playing Kent Patterson more early as a freshman. When Kangas started struggling, Patterson had very little college game experience when he got his chance to save the sinking ship.

Nice to hear Lucia admit he goofed. It’s also a telltale sign it — Patterson being buried on the bench —  won’t happen again. 

Playing Patterson more actually could help Kangas, too. Maybe he won’t feel he has to do everything in the nets and carry the team like he did as a freshman when he was the Gophers’ MVP.

U men’s puck: Schroeder preseason All-America pick

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Inside College Hockey (INCH) has named Gophers sophomore center Jordan Schroeder to it’s preseason All=America team.

Here is what INCH said about him:

He was the nation’s leading freshman scorer last year and recorded at least one point in all but five games he played in for the Gophers. Schroeder ended the season with an eight-game point streak during which he tallied 11 points. He was expected to be a high pick in the NHL draft but slid to the later stages of the first round. Could that provide the motivation to avoid a sophomore slump?

In 44 games, Schroeder had 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points. Let’s see, doing the math, he averaged almost exactly a point per game.

One other WCHA player was on the first All-America team, senior defenseman Chay Genoway of North Dakota.

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