The Gophers have not fared well in recent seasons going against North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux hold a 6-3-2 edge in their last 11 meetings going back to mid-January 2009.
Three keys to the Gophers beating the Sioux tonight:
1. Stop UND's top line. Brock Nelson, Corban Knight and Danny Kristo all are tied for the team lead in goals and formed a potent first line. But the Sioux broke them up for Friday's game at least. Knight and Kristo are still together, paired with freshman Mark MacMillian on the first line. But Nelson is on another line now. Obviously, UND is looking for more scoring, The Gophers still need to focus on Knight and Kristo.
2. Get more penalties, which lead to more power plays. The Gophers have the No. 1 pp in the country but it can't score if the Gophers never have the man advantage. Last game up in Alaska, the Gophers had only three power plays and for the first time this season didn't score a pp goal. Getting to the Sioux to commit penalties shouldn't be hard. What will be is to not retaliate. One guy going into the box from each side doesn't help the U. So the Gophers have to play smart. Be physical when that is called for, be poised when they can gain an advantage.
3. Put Kent Patterson in goal. That in itself is a big move. KP was named the Hockey Commissioners Association's Division I Player of the Month on Friday for October. He was 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average. He is confident and his teammates are confident in him. Makes it a lot easier to take the ice against any opponent.
Patty just has to keep doing what he has been doing, when is controlling rebounds, making his job look easy, playing his angles. In my mind, his biggest competition for the award was Erik Haula, who led the nation in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in eight games. What a pace.
OTHER U PLUSES
As blogged earlier, Kyle Rau of the Gophers was named the National Rookie of the Month. Quite the awards haul for the maroon and gold. All he did was lead all freshmen in goals (seven) and points (13).
Next Wednesday is the start of a week-long signing period and the Gophers will sign six or seven, coach Don Lucia said a couple days ago.
But the recruiting news is already good. On Thursday, Taylor Cammarata committed to the Gophers. Don't know who he is? You will.
He is a 5-6, 145-pound dynamo with the puck. Waterloo took him with the No. 1 overall pick in the USHL futures draft last April and so far he has three goals and eight assists in 11 games.
Last season he had 71 goals and 68 assists playing for the 16-and-under Shattuck-St. Mary's team. He is only 16.
He is from Maple Grove.
LINES -- STATUS QUO
Lucia has kept his top three lines in tact:
On the fourth line are Tom Serratore, who has played every game, with Travis Boyd and Nick Larson. Boyd has played in six of the Gophers' eight games, Larson in five.