Gophers coach Don Lucia is OK with this weekend's odd schedule. The U plays Alaska Anchorage at 7 p.m. Friday, then the teams take Saturday off and play again at 4 p.m. Sunday.
"We're so ingrained in hockey in playing nothing but Friday, Saturday games," Lucia said. "It's a little unique because of the football game and not being able to play Saturday."
The Gophers play Michigan State at 7 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium across the street from Mariucci Arena. Parking is already tough during a football game, so trying to play hockey, which draws 10,000 to its games, would make the congestion even worse.
Lucia understands. "This will be the only year that [possible conflict] happens," he said, "because as we move forward with the new outdoor football stadium when they are at home on the weekend, we will be on the road. So we won't run into this in the future."
Not that a Saturday off is entirely a downer. "In some ways, you have a day in between and you can kind of regroup," Lucia said. "That won't be all bad. The hard part will probably be that the Packers-Vikings game got moved to 3:15 [p.m.]. When we scheduled [Sunday's hockey game], we looked at [the Vikings' schedule]. We said it's a noon game and we will be fine playing at 4. I am sure [this conflict] will effect things a little bit [for fans]. There is nothing you can do about that,. You just have to go play the game."
One suggestion: Vikings-Packers on scoreboard between periods. Don't know if that is possible but it would make many hockey fans happy.
Lucia is happy with how his two goalies have played so far. Junior Alex Kangas has started both Friday games, sophomore Kent Patterson both Saturday games.
Why the rotation? "The thought process is that you want to have two goalies in a situation where they feel comfortable playing," Lucia said. "Kent worked hard in the last year, He didn't get an opportunity a whole lot last year.
"We made a decision as a staff before the year started that early in the season we are going to get him in some games. He has played well. Alex has played well. Goaltending has been one of the strongest suits to our team so far."
Kangas has a 3.02 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage; Patterson's numbers are 2.89 and .900.
"There is a few guys we don't know if they can play for sure," Lucia said, referring to this weekend.
He said the "crud" has been going around, mostly cold and respiratory problems, not the flu.
"We had just about everybody ar practice [on Tuesday]," Lucia said, "but we got one guy [Joey Miller] out with the flu [on Wednesday]."
Two others, winger Jay Barriball and defenseman Cade Fairchild, are dinged up, Lucia said.
Barriball suffered a hip pointer in Saturday's game and missed the second half of the 3-0 loss to Denver. Fairchild has an undisclosed injury. Both were wearing practice jerseys with crosses, meaning teammates were supposed to not hit them.
"We've talked to the guys about washing hands," Lucia said. "Nobody has had flu shots yet because they haven't been available.And that is something we usually get in October.
"Not only would we like our guys to get flu shots, but the H1N1 shots as well. It seems like for us, it ishas been more the colds and upper respiratory that's going around more than the actual flu.
"We are trying this week to shorten our practices and trying to keep the guys as healthy and fresh as we possiby can for the upcoming weekend."
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