Looking at the national leaders on Monday on collegehockeystats.net is always interesting, especially if you are the beat writer for a team that has a handful of players near the top in various categories. The Gophers have five up there.
Here is a look at what the latest stats show:
Nick Bjugstad. The 6-5 sophomore center is second in NCAA hockey with 21 goals. He had one against St. Cloud State this past weekend. Nobody else has 20 or more except Austin Smith of Colgate. Smith has 26 goals, six short-handed, and 15 assists for an NCAA best 41 points.
Bjugey has 33 points and is not in the top 10 in scoring.
Kent Patterson. The senior netminder is blowing everyone away in minutes. He is closing in on 2,000 minutes with 1,738 minutes and 49 seconds. He has played every minute in the Gophers 29 games. Last Saturday was his 50th start in a row going back to last season.
The Gophers ironman also is first in another important category for goalies, wins. He has 19, three more than UMD's Kenny Reiter, who is second. ... Patterson's 2.04 goals-against average is eighth nationally. .. He is tied for first for most shutouts with six -- although he hasn't had one since mid-November. Shane Madolora of Rochester Institute of Technology also has six.
Nate Condon. The fast sophomore left wing has four short-handed goals which ranks second nationally behind the before mentioned Smith. Condon could have/should have gotten his fifth this past weekend. He hit a post on a short-handed breakaway with about 1:20 left in the Gophers' 2-1 win over St. Cloud State.
Condon, of Wausau, Wis., has become as dangerous a penalty killer as the Gophers have had in years. Him and Taylor Matson work so well together. Any time the opposition makes a turnover, they seem to be going the other way for a good scoring chance.
Kyle Rau. The freshman left winger from Eden Prairie has been a bit quiet of late. He still leads all rookies in goals nationally with 13 but has slipped to second in points behind Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia.
It will be a showdown between the top two candidates for WCHA rookie of the year when the Gophers play at Denver in two weeks. LaLeggia has 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points and is smoking hot lately. He has four goals and 11 assists in an eight-game scoring streak.
Rau has 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points.
Nate Schmidt. The sophomore defenseman is tied for fourth nationally in assists with 25. UMD forward Jack Connolly also has 25. Winger Mark Zengerle of Wisconsin is first with 29.
TEAM NUMBERS CRUNCHING
The Gophers are No. 4 in Division I hockey in defense, giving up 2.03 goals per game.
On offense, they are even better. They are No. 2, scoring 3.72 goals per game.
Four of the top five scoring teams play in the WCHA:
1. UMD 3.81 .... still vividly remember the 100 shots the 'Dogs had against the Gophers
2. Gophers 3.72 .... outscored Sacred Heart 15-0 in first two games. Good start.
3. Denver 3.65 .... on five-game winning streak
4. Boston U 3.54 .... shut down well by Maine twice last weekend
5.Col. College 3.50 .... had last weekend off, Tigers' power play looked inept against Gophers two weeks ago
The Gophers are No. 9 nationally on the power play at 22.9 percent. Just ahead of them are two other WCHA teams, Denver at 23.5 and CC at 23.1, so the Gophers are the third best team in the conference with a man advantage.
On the penalty kill, the Gophers are the best in the WCHA at 84.4 percent. They are No. 15 nationally on the PK, while Bemidji State is No. 17 at 84.1 percent.
Notes: There is no Don Lucia show on 1500ESPN at 6 p.m. tonite because the Gophers don't play this week.
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