Gophers coach Don Lucia made four lineup change on Saturday -- the most this season -- after his team's 3-2 loss to Michigan Tech the night before.

"We had different guys in our lineup just to see if we could create a little bit more energy in our lineup," he said.

Lucia had an entirely new fourth line and a new defensive partner, freshman Blake Thompson, for Nate Schmidt.

"Blake Thompson, it is unfortunate he got the penalty I thought he played his best game since he has been here when he got into it," Lucia said. "He made some good plays with the puck and was physical the way we wanted [him] to [be]."

Thompson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head late in the second period. He had not played since Oct. 23, partly at least because he had mono.


The Gophers scored four consecutive goals in the third perior in beating Tech 6-2 on Saturday.

"It was the kind of effort that we had to have," Lucia said. "We all feel pretty good right now. When the first half ends, we have a piece of first place in the league and a 11-3 record."

"We just came out with better energy mentally. It is more mental that physical."

Sure seems that way with the Gophers who are a mediocre 6-4-0 on Fridays but 8-0-1 on Saturdays.

Here is a look at the top of the WCHA after 14 games for most teams, which is halfway through the conference season:

1. (tie) Gophers           11-3-0       22 pts.

           UMD                 10-2-2      22

3. Neb. Omaha              7-4-3      17

4. (tie) Colo. College     7-5-0       14

           North Dakota      7-7-0       14


Lucia was still talking about Friday's overtime loss the next night. "I thought last night's game should have been 0-0 going into overtime because all four goals went off somebody," he said. "Two went off their guys for us. It is just disappointing to leave a point on the table. 

"When you lose in overtime it stinks. There is no point for getting into overtime [like in the NHL] or anything like that. We had a pretty stern meeting with the guys [Saturday] and I like the way they responded."

One player who responded especially well as sophomore defensemen Mark Alt with a goal and two assists. He also had a goal and an assist Friday which meant he had a five-point weekend.

"He had the big goal [Saturday], the third goal," Lucia said, referring to Alt's game-winner from the left circle. "They scored on their power play, on that five-minute major and then we responded soon thereafter getting that third goal. It was a nice one-timer and a nice, hard shot. We had better net presence [Saturday]. We had better puck support in the offensive zone and just more want-to [Saturday]."