Center Erik Haula started his sophomore season with at least one point in his first seven games and with three points in four of them. At the end of October, he had seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.

He couldn't keep that pace up, of course.

Here's a look at his production, month by month:

                       Goals         Assists     Pts.       Gms

Oct.                   7                   10          17           8

Nov.                  1                     3            4            8

Dec.                  2                    5            7            6

Jan.                  1                     2            3           7

Feb.                  3                    4            7            6

Mar                   4                    2            6            2

                        19                 25           44         39

He started heating up in mid-February. In his last nine games, he has eight goals and six assists for 14 points. In that stretch he has scored two goals three times. He has six two-goal games this season.

When Haula has at least two points in a game, the Gophers are 16-1.


* On his first trip to the Final Five: "Very excited, can't wait."

* On Gophers giving up four power play goals to Alaska Anchorage: "They were really good on the power play this weekend. We've got to work on on PK [penalty kill]. After Zach Budish scored that second goal, it kind of got us going."

* On winning best-of-three series in two games: "We wanted to end this [Saturday]. Still some payback from last year and it feels good to put this weekend behind us." UAA swept the Gophers 2-0 in the first round of the WCHA playoffs in 2011.

* On preseason goals: "We can accomplish everything we wanted to at the beginning of the season. I can't say how excited our team is to go up to the X and start playing those big games."


"We wanted to get that fourth goal," Alaska Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak said Saturday after his team's 7-3 loss to the Gophers. "I thought we had them pinned down, pinned down."

In the first nine minutes of the second period, UAA scored three power play goals to take a 3-1 lead. "We got to [Gophers goalie Kent] Patterson. I thought he was rattled. We tried to take advantage of that and we got some bad, unnecessary penalties.

"At the end of the day we ran out of gas and when you are tired and fatigued, you make mistakes and they took advantage of that."


"We have been a real good third period team all season long," Gophers coach Don Lucia said on Saturday. "We have been good on Saturday nights all season long. We came back and we finished in the third period.

"[Haula] was a catalyst this weekend. He is hungry right now, as all the guys are. I am just happy for our seniors, that they know they are going to play at the Xcel Center the next couple of weeks. They know they are going to be in the NCAA tournament.

"And it will be fun on Friday night [in the Final Five semifinals] back at the Xcel with a great crowd."

"It has been a climb," Lucia said, asked about returning to the Final Five after a two-year absence. "There has been some frustrations, there is no question. A year ago at this time I said I don't think we are that far away. I don't know if anybody believed me at that time.

"But I seriously didn't think we were that far away. I knew we relied on a lot of freshman last year. I knew we had a lot of kids injured last year. They have all stepped up, starting with our goaltender and our whole team. This began a year ago. To win the league. [The Seawolves] ended our season. There is a little satisfaction we ended theirs."

Lucia said his team would benefit from a game like Saturday's.

"We needed this," he said. "We got punched in the nose a little bit by getting down 3-1. But we responded by getting six straight. We had not scored a lot lately. That was important for us, too."

Now, Lucia said, his players are looking forward to playing in a big-game environment.

"Our kids need to play in that environment," Lucia said. "We haven't been in that environment, obviously, come playoff time. It will be a whole new situation for us. The guys are looking forward to it. It will be fun for the league. It is going to be good for our team and good for our fans."

* On senior Jake Kremer playing the last 40-some seconds in the nets vs. Alaska Anchorage on Saturday: "It was great that Kremer could get in there in the last minute as a senior and all he has meant to our program as a third goaltender and practice [goalie]. He has been just a great kid and a great supporter of everybody else.

"With the way the score was. I am so zoned in, but Mike [assistant head coach Mike Guentzel] hollered down, 'Let's get him in.' And, obviously, that was the right call."

* On getting first power-play goal on seven opportunity: "That was huge because when your power play is not going, it is your key offensive guys. And they start to get frustrated. And once they scored that power-play goal ... that kind of relaxed our team going into the third period."


Lucia made sure his players, at least the seniors, would touch the MacNaughton Cup two weekends ago after they beat Wisconsin to clinch an outright WCHA regular-season title

"They should have," Lucia said on his weekly radio show last week. "You don't get a chance to win a championship that often in any sport. So when you do it, you better enjoy it. The thought -- we better not touch the Cup because there is bigger things we want to do at the end of the year.

"There is only one team left at the end of the year to hold that trophy," Lucia said. "So along the way, you better enjoy the victories. To see the look on our players' faces, the utter joy, the satisfaction for a very difficult, long, grinding regular season. And to go to the last period of the last game in order to get the win, as far as getting the trophy outright yourself -- it wasn't a co-championship -- it meant a lot to our guys.

"It was nice that all our seniors were in the lineup our last game [except Kremer]. We have talked about what they have been through, the ups and downs."

The Gophers have won 13 MacNaughton Cups now, the previous two came back-to-back in 2006, '07.

"In '06, I didn't realize the guys were not going to touch it," Lucia said. "I was mad at them. I vowed after that, you ever get your hands on that thing, you better enjoy it because there is no such thing it is going to affect you the next week or a month later. That's irrelevant.

"The kids in '06 didn't celebrate that and there wasn't anything the rest of the year to celebrate."


* The Gophers are 28-3 in the present Mariucci Arena in first-round WCHA games; all three losses have been to Alaska Anchorage.

* The No. 1 seed in the WCHA playoffs has advanced to the Final Five 18 years in a row. The last team top seed who was upset? Colorado College in 1994. The Tigers lost in three games to Michigan Tech, the same team that upset them this year as an eighth seed.