Gophers coach Don Lucia, on his weekly radio show Monday, said one reason the team's defensemen are playing better this season is because four of them were freshman last season and two of them real rookies. Mark Alt and Justin Holl were moving up to Division hockey directly out of high school."
"It takes growing pains at times," Lucia said. "But the development of those freshmen to their sophomore [year] has been the key. When you look at Mark Alt, you look at Justin Holl, Jake Parenteau and Nate Schmidt --- especially Parenteau and Schmidt were really part-time players last year. Those two in particular have really played pretty darn well. Nate Schmidt, obviously, on the power play."
Schmidt leads the team with 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) on the power play. He is fourth overall in scoring with 16 points and is a plus-10.
Schmidt has played in every game, Parenteau is 12 of the 14. Parenteau is a plus-6.
Holl and Alt have played every game, too, and have identical scoring stats -- two goals and four assists for six points. Holl is a plus-10, Alt a plus-5.
"Obviously, Helgey [Seth Helgeson] as a junior and Ben Marshall has come in as a [freshman] and done a nice job," Lucia said. "That growth from that group of guys -- that was my concern, too. But they have done a really nice job."
Helgeson and Marshall have identical stats as well: one goal and three assists for four points. Helgeson is a plus-9, Marshall a plus-8.
"Mike working with them has done a nice job in helping them reach their potential," Lucia said, referring to associate head coach Mike Guentzel who rejoined the staff this season.
The D-men have helped limit opponents to 25.5 shots per game, 1.71 goals and 12.1 percent success on the power play.
THE DON SAYS
On Gophers' 4-3 loss at St. Cloud State in first game of series: "You just can't give up easy goals like we did on Friday night."