GOPHERS MEN’S HOCKEY SERIES PREVIEW
vs. St. Lawrence • 3M Arena at Mariucci
Fri.: 7 p.m. (FSN). Sat.: 8 p.m. (FSN+). Radio: 103.5-FM, 1130-AM
A homestand advantage
Preview: The Gophers (2-4-1, 1-1-0 Big Ten) open a six-game homestand at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday against St. Lawrence (1-8-0, 0-2-0 ECAC). The teams have met only five times previously, most recently in 2016. Senior defenseman Jack Sadek is the only active player with a point against St. Lawrence, as he scored his first career goal in that 2016 meeting. Gophers coach Bob Motzko will look to jumpstart his 5-on-5 offense while continuing a defense that averages fewer than three goals per game. To do that, Motzko is still tinkering with his line combinations and defensive pairings, saying he has never accurately formulated lines to start the season, and the process can take until Christmas. He’s added some speed to certain lines — like moving freshman Sammy Walker to wing from center — and heaviness to others. “There’s only a few teams that are raising their hands saying, ‘Boy, we’re having a great start’ around the country,” Motzko said of both the Gophers and St. Lawrence having losing records. “Everybody’s got something to work on.”
Quotable: “Any time you have home-ice advantage, it’s huge. I think especially having the Olympic-size rink here, we’re used to playing and practicing [on it]. I think teams get kind of caught off-guard at times. So just use our feet in the corners. Obviously, you have a little bit more space down low. So any time you can be at home, especially in front of these fans, it’s a little boost for us.” — Junior defenseman Tyler Nanne.
Noticing Novak: Motzko had heaps of praise for senior center Tommy Novak after the split series at Wisconsin this past weekend. While Novak didn’t register any points — and has just two assists on the season so far — he dominated his faceoffs at 26-8 in the border battle. Motzko said he first had a conversation with Novak a week ago just to get to know him better and came out with the impression that Novak is “smart” with “frightening” talent. “He’s on a good path right now. And just pat him on the butt, and let him go. He’s going the right way.”
By the numbers: The Gophers have scored a power-play goal in their past six-consecutive games.