Gophers coach Don Lucia was on KFAN-radio on Wednesday morning, discussing a bunch of topics from goalie Kent Patterson's iron-man role to UMD's unbeaten streak to coaching shouting at each other.
Asked if he was concerned about goalie Kent Patterson wearing down, Lucia said that he was not. Patterson, a senior, has played every game so far and is second among netminders in minutes played nationally.
"You have NHL goalies who play 65 games a year," Lucia said. "The most [games] we can play is the low 40s. We have plenty of rest. You see it all the time, one guy plays all the time.
"Kent is our guy. Kent wants to play. He is in terrific shape. He has waited two years to get the opportunity to be the No. 1 guy. Now this is his second year and he doesn't want to give it up. I don't blame him."
Patterson played sparingly his first two seasons at the 'U' behind Alex Kangas. But when Kangas reaggravated a hip injury in mid-December last year, Patterson became the Gophers' goalie.
"As long as he is mentally and physically sound to go, he is going to play," Lucia said. "[Michael] Shibrowski is our backup. He understands the situation he is in. He is one injury away from being our full-time goaltender.
"So [Shibrowski's] job is to maintain his conditioning. being sharp and waiting for when or if he has that opportunity. If it doesn't arise this year, then he has an opportunity to battle it out next year."
Patterson is 14-5-1 this season with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage and six shutouts.
UMD BETTER IN GOAL
Minnesota Duluth, since losing twice to the Gophers early in the season, is on a 14-game unbeaten streak (11-0-3).
"I don't think anything is different other than their goaltender [Kenny Reiter] has kind of solidified himself," Lucia said. "He got off to a little bit of a slow start the first couple of weeks. And since that weekend, he has played very, very well.'
Reiter is 12-2-3 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.
"And they have enough firepower," Lucia said. "They have a bunch of seniors. Let's face it, three-quarters of their team played and won a national title last year. They know how to win and they have a high skill level and they can score goals. Jack Connolly is as good as anybody in the country."
UMD is tied with the Gophers for first place in the WCHA halfway through the conference schedule.
"You don't want to lose a game in overtime to Michigan Tech like we did [in our last series]," Lucia said, "but, when you look at it overall, and what we had to do and where we went, to be 14-5-1, that is a pretty good record, and to be 11-3 within the league."
A CROWD-PLEASING ENDING
Lucia tried to downplay the shouting match between coaches on opposite benches at the end of the second game between the Gophers and Michigan Tech on Dec. 10.
"We were just asking each other where we were going to go to dinner after the game." Lucia said jokingly. "... [Ex Gophers radio broadcaster] Glen Sonmor was loving it, That was old-time hockey with him in the North Stars days.
"There was a little talking going back and forth. That happens in the heat of the battle. It is not something we want, but a little theater for the crowd and they seemed to enjoy it."