Gophers coach Don Lucia said his players enjoyed practicing on Saturday and playing on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

"The guys had a great time," Lucia said on his weekly radio show, "other than the score. ... Everything was first class, organized. Overall, it was a tremendous experience for our players."

Lucia said the ice was the same for both and he would not use that as an excuse for his team's 3-2 loss to the Badgers.

"For the most part, we played pretty well in the game. We lost in a three-minute span. One of their goals did the old skip.It looked like a rock skipping in the water. That first goal. Another goal went off our shin pad.That's what you had to do.

"You just had to get pucks to the net. You are not going to make a lot of pretty plays. It was going to be difficult on the power play to do a whole lot."

Lucia said it was the Gophers' first game on a standard sheet (200x85) since the Michigan Tech series. In the second half of the season, the Gophers have been trying to practice once a week at the smaller rink at Ridder Arena to get used to a smaller rink, which they may have to play on in the postseason sometime.

Last week they practices at Ridder Arena -- the U of M women's team's rink twice.

They will also play two games on the smaller rink at Bemidji State in three weeks to end the regular season.

Lucia said the ice wasn't as smooth as it is in an indoor arena, but the Gophers ultimately lost because they did not stay with their game in the second period.

"Bottom line is, we didn't enough to win," he said.  "That's it. You hear the comments that, 'You should have played both games at the Kohl Center.' But the reality is, you look at the history, there is not very many times you go into Wisconsin and win two games. More often thn not, if you split, you can say you had a pretty good weekend down there."

The Gophers won the first game 3-2 on Friday and won the season series 2-1-1.

Lucia said, all in all, the outdoor game was an enjoyable event. other than the loss, especially seeing how much the players enjoyed it.


Lucia said he expects to have an outdoor game in the Twin Cities eventually at TCF Bank Stadium.

He said the ideal situation would be to have the Hall of Fame Game, a nonconference game the U plays in periodically, outdoors.