Apr 5, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Gophers center Travis Boyd (22) shoots as Boston College Eagles goalie Parker Milner (35) defends in the second period during the semifinals of the 2012 Frozen Four at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Fast start and good goaltending leads to sweep

Gold and Gopher writer Ryan Vagle takes a look back at the weekend sweep of Michigan State at home kicking off the season undefeated. 

The Gopher hockey team looked impressive as they swept No. 16 Michigan State at Mariucci Arena this past weekend.

Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on Friday and never looked back, winning by the final score of 5-1.

The team followed up one rout with another, defeating the Spartans 7-1 in the Saturday night contest.

They are now the number one ranked team in every national poll and are clearly the best team in college hockey today.

Junior Nick Bjugstad, the Blaine native and Florida Panthers prospect, contributed with a goal in each game.  His return to the team this season was in jeopardy after a dominant 2011-2012 campaign (42pts in 40 games played), but he came out of the gate with the same tenacity he brought to last year’s Frozen Four team.

The 6’6” Bjugstad is arguably the biggest and baddest player on the ice for the Gophers, and arguably the WCHA, so his success will be crucial if the Gophers look to hold their No. 1 ranking throughout the season.

The biggest question mark for this Gopher team is going to be the play between the pipes.

With Kent Patterson gone, the team has a huge void to fill in the net. Michael Shibrowski allowed one goal on 26 shots in the first game, and Adam Wilcox allowed one on just 11 shots in the second.

A good start for each of them against a ranked opponent should give them confidence going forward.  It is unclear right now which of these two is the frontrunner, but as long as they both continue to play well no one is going to care.

Keep an eye on Bjugstad’s line and the goalies this season, if they can continue to elevate their game there is no reason this team can’t make a legitimate run at a national title.

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