Gophers coach Don Lucia said the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves recruit a lot of players with junior experience. "They have a lot of veterans, kids that are a little bit older and stronger physically," he said, "and have been through the junior grind, so they are a hard team to play against.
"They play well within their system. They are going to come after us. They block shots and,we talked about it, they were a good team last year and they are a better team this year."
UAA was 3-0-1 until losing twice last weekend at Nebraska Omaha, so the Seawolves are looking for their first WCHA points.
"We can’t use [their age] as an excuse or a crutch," Lucia said on Wednesday during his team's weekly media day. "These are our players. We have to get them better. They have worked hard to get better. We've seen some good things."
Indeed, the Gophers were 5-0-0 until losing to Vermont 5-4 on Sunday.
"We obviously had some good learning lessons from last Sunday’s game. Those are the lessons [that] you show them on the video and talk about and, hopefully, you turn a negative into a positive and we don't have to address some of those issues again this year."
Lucia is low-keying the revenge factor. Alaska Anchorage, of course, ended the Gophers' season last March by sweeping them in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
"All of our freshman were not a part of that," he said. "This is a new team. ... This is October, we want to get better. These are WCHA points, we want to get some points. We talked about how important every weekend is to try to get points.
"This weekend is no different whether it is Anchorage or Duluth or we come back next weekend to play North Dakota
[at Mariucci Arena].
So far the Gophers have four WCHA points out of a possible four; they swept UMD in their only WCHA series.