Gophers coach Don Lucia said Monday on his weekly radio show that Nebraska Omaha will be a tough challenge. The Gophers, after sweeping Bemidji State 3-0 and 4-1, play UNO in their last WCHA road series on Friday and Saturday.
"It is going to be a completely different weekend for our guys," Lucia said. "Whereas the Bemidji weekend for our guys was somewhat controlled and deliberate, UNO wants to get up and down the rink. They want to play a little more racehorse hockey.
"They want to pressure the puck. They have good team speed. Their top two lines can really score, especially their top line is very good and a threat every time they are on the ice. Their specialty teams -- we were just talking today as a staff -- we are plus-10 in the league, they are a plus-7. So they are right behind us in specialty teams."
Special teams Net
Gophers +13 ... lead league with 34 pp goals
UNO +10 .... have given up fewest pp goals, 19
North Dakota +8
Michigan Tech +6
CC, DU, Mn. St. +3
Bem. St., UMD -2 .... Bulldogs have given up 33 pp goals, MSU 34
St. Cloud State -5
Alaska Anchorage -6
MAVS HAVE GO-TO GOALIES
"They have settled on a freshman goaltender now," Lucia said, referring to UNO netminder Ryan Massa. "They have rotated goaltending at different points of the year. They have a big, strong defensive corps."
D-man Andrej Sustr, 6-8, 200, is the tallest player in Division I hockey.
The last time -- and only time -- the Gophers played in Omaha was in 2003 in their Mavericks' season-opening tournament.
Lucia was asked about UNO's arena. "The Qwest Center [renamed the CenturyLink Center in July 2011] is a great facility for our fans," he said. "It is a big facility with 15,000 [seats], so if any of our fans want to go spend a weekend and drive down, you will be able to get tickets.
"Omaha is a nice city. It is actually a pretty easy drive down, a 6-hour drive down. It's about 400 miles."
Mapquest says 378 miles and a 6 hr., 15 min. drive from the Star Tribune building in downtown Minneapolis.
"That is where Creighton plays there basketball," Lucia said. "At the same time, I know UNO is trying to build their own rink, own facility. Something that holds 7,000 or 8,000. [The CenturyLink Center] is probable a little bit too big. It is one of those facilities where you can always get tickets so there is not -- you don't have to buy season tickets."
The CenturtyLink Center seats 16,680 for hockey.
"It will be a great test to see if we can go down there and get some points this weekend, which we need to do," Lucia said.
Freshman defenseman Ben Marshall was injured in Saturday's game against Bemidji State.
"He was evaluated [Monday]," Lucia said. "I would list him more week-to-week than anything else right now."
Lucia said if Marshall is out, either sophomore Chris Student or freshman Blake Thompson will play. "They have both played a few games," he said.
Marshall has not missed a game this season; he has been paired with sophomore Mark Alt.
The only other injured Gophers is senior forward Nick Larson [broken wrist vs. North Dakota]. He started to skate on Monday. "I doubt he will be ready to play this weekend," Lucia said.
But Lucia hopes Larson will be able to play the next weekend when the Gophers face Wisconsin at home to close the regular season.
THE DON SAYS
* On goalie Kent Patterson's seventh shutout this past Friday: "The guys did a great job in front of him. How many blocked shots did we have this weekend? They were selling out, which is great to see. Kent was outstanding when he had to be this weekend. He didn't have a lot of shots, but there were no leakers this weekend, which is what we need from him here on out."
* Bemidji State was shut out this past Friday for only the second time this season. UMD beat the Beavers 1-0 on Oct. 29.
* The Beavers' 13 shots were the lowest since they had 13 against North Dakota in a 1-0 loss on Feb. 24, 2008.
* Brad Hunt's power-play goal for BSU in a 4-1 loss to the Gophers gave him 108 career points (24 goals, 84 assists), which is a team record for a defenseman in the 56-year history of the program. Saturday's game was Hunt's 144th consecutive, a BSU record in the Division I era.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment,” Hunt said. “Obviously it would have been a lot more meaningful if we would have got the win, but I am proud of myself. I know my mom and dad are really proud too and those guys in that room are proud.”
Hunt is from Ridge Meadows, B.C.