Consensus seemed to be that the first-period coverage of both games was great, but it was downhill from there. The stream was riddled with long pauses for buffering, sometimes ten minutes at a time. I managed to make it through Friday night’s win with the bad coverage, but by the third period on Saturday night, I had resorted to listening to Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco guide me through the game on the radio.
Post Saturday’s 2-2 tie, coach Don Lucia came on the air to talk about his squad’s performance. He seemed pleased, and generally happy with the tie and the level of competition displayed by the Gophers.
Sunday morning, Shaver and Mazzocco agreed with Lucia, saying Gopher fans should be pleased the team came home with three points.
Friday night was good. I was happy with the Gopher’s 4-0 smash of the Seawolves, even more so with their power-play performance. Last time, against Mankato, the team went 4 for 11 on power plays over the weekend. All four goals in Alaska on Friday night, however, came from the power play unit, putting the team at 4 for 6 on power play chances for the night.
Kyle Rau had the first goal, snapping a shot past the Seawolves hopeless defense and net minder Chris Kamal. Bjugstad notched the second off a pass from Nate Schmidt after the the Seawolves failed to capitalize on a half-decent chance in front of Adam Wilcox.
In the second period, the opposing defensive unit seemed to wake up a little bit, giving Wilcox a little bit more to do. Although, he could have taken a nap for the majority of this game. Rau scored his second goal of the night on the third power play with a nice 5-hole from the slot. Ben Marshall had the last goal. He was back on defense on Friday night after playing up last weekend.
Saturday night’s game was less than great. The Gophers looked tired and sluggish, not the same team that won a night before. Alaska looked much better. They actually ate their breakfast Saturday morning, and they showed up to play.
Before we move on, let me be clear: I’m just giving credit where credit is due. Alaska played well, but I don’t find that to be a worthy excuse for a tie.
The game was full of penalties. The Gopher’s made good use of the first power play of the night with a goal by Seth Ambroz, but the Seawolves came right back with their own power play goal as Jordan Kwas slipped one past Wilcox.
There was no scoring in the second period, but a lot more penalties. The period started with a five-on-three chance that the Gophers somehow did not score on. Then, Jake Parenteau got tossed out of the game for checking from behind while Christian Isackson served the 5-minute major. In a twist of events, UAA’s Matt Bailey was ejected shortly after for the same penalty.
In the third, the Seawolves gained the lead on a power play opportunity after Schmidt went to the bin for tripping. Things were looking bleak until there was yet another twist of events.
Out of nowhere, the Gopher’s offense woke up and began putting some impressive pressure on UAA goalie Rob Gunderson at the other end of the rink. I can’t tell you how many times I had my Chinese takeout paused midair between a couple of chopsticks because Mazzocco was frantically yelling about Bjugstad getting robbed. Finally, Erik Haula charged up the ice and nabbed a goal at 13:31 for a 2-2 tie.
Overtime play was equally as impressive as the Gopher’s outshot the Seawolves 5-0, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
In conclusion, we have a nice victory, and a measly 2-2 tie for three points that, according to Lucia and the Gophers radio announcers Shaver and Mazzocco, fans are supposed to be happy about.
I vehemently disagree.
This team has not seen the hard part of the schedule. Yet to be played are teams like North Dakota and Denver, who sit atop the standings right now. The boys should be sweeping teams like UAA. I find it laughable, all that went on against Mankato last weekend. It should have been a sweep. A performance like Saturday night against UAA is not going to hold up against the rest of the WCHA schedule.
We’ve got Wisconsin coming up this weekend and we have to sweep them. The Gophers will have the home-ice advantage, and you can bet the crowd is going to get behind them big time, which will help. The Badgers haven’t been doing great. They have been riddled with injuries and, most recently, a change in coaching staff. By no means do I expect them to just roll over to the Gophs, but we should sweep and use that momentum for the tough ones coming up.
Don Lucia should be thinking long and hard about whatever it is that he has to do to get this team back on track. As far as I’m concerned, he should also be changing his attitude about his team’s performances when he speaks publicly. Maybe he thinks he’s duping us; the lowly fans, getting mic’d up and acting like a tie against the Seawolves is good news.