"I was happy with the way we played," Gophers coach Don Lucia said after his team's 4-1 victory over Bemidji State on Saturday. "Erik's line got rewarded [Saturday]. They were very good [Friday] even though they did not show up on the scoresheet. When we watched the video, they made a lot of great plays in the offensive zone. There was just no reward."
Erik Haula scored two goals and linemate Jake Hansen one on Saturday. Both had one assist, too. Those two and left wing Sam Warning were all plus-2 for the game and combined for 14 shots on goal. Hansen had nine, Haula four and Warning one.
"[Saturday] they got rewarded," Lucia said, referring to his second line. "They led the way offensively like Bjugey's line led the way [Friday] night. It was a difficult game like we expected. Bemidji came out and played extremely hard [Saturday]. Fortunately we were able to play with the lead, but you never felt safe in the game."
After Haula's second goal at 7:07 of the second period gave the Gophers a 3-1 lead, neither team scored until Seth Ambroz got an empty-netter with 1:33 left.
Lucia called it a great weekend, with his present team getting a sweep and the 2002 NCAA championship team returning. "It was a special group and I am glad we were able to get the win in front of them," said Lucia, who coached that team to a national title in his third year at Minnesota.
"What I liked about what our guys did [Saturday]," Lucia said. "[was] it was a difficult weekend in Denver last week, but we talked about how important it is to move on. And the guys, mentally and physically were able to do that and get four big points this week.
"We had great success within our state this year, and that was something we talked about when the year began."
The Gophers finished 9-1 against the other four in-state Division I programs. St. Cloud State got the only victory against the Gophers, beating them 4-3 on Nov. 18 at the National Hockey Center.
BOUNCE BACK WEEKEND
"Sunday morning after Denver it definitely stung," Patterson said, referring to the Gophers getting swept by DU 5-3 and 4-3 in overtime."But anything with a win or a loss, you just have to take it that night, but the next morning you have to brush it off and come ready to battle the next practice.
"We definitely re-established ourselves and proved what our identity should be and the way we should play game in and game out."
* On BSU's only goal of the weekend, late in the first period Saturday by defenseman Brad Hunt from the high slot: "It was a great shot. I have to give him credit. I just kind of froze up a little bit on my glove side. Just a little mental lapse on my part."
* On whether players do any scoreboard watching: "We actually got a few of the updates --it is great to see [second place UMD tied, third place Denver lost]. But during the game, we just focus on our game. We don't worrry about [other games]."
* Patti Bjorklund, after 29 seasons as the administrative assistant in the Gophers hockey office, is retiring. She was honored before Saturday's game and dropped a puck for a ceremonial pre-game faceoff.
"When I got hired [here]," Lucia said, "I told her my goal was to be here longer than you, Patti, because you have retired a few coaches in your day.But she is a sweetheart and just loved Gophers hockey."
THE DON SAYS
* On how tough a game hockey can be: "That is not a foam rubber puck they are getting hit with. It hurts. [Saturday] there were a lot of ice bags in the training room as there should [be] if you expect to win."