Christian Isackson played in only 11 games for the Gophers last season as a freshman. In those games, he did not register a point and had 20 shots on goal.
This season could be different for him.
The 6-2, 190-pound forward had three goals -- and a game-high 10 shots on net -- as the Gophers overwhelmed Lethbridge 7-0 on Saturday at Mariucci Arena in an exhibition.
"It helps a lot playing with [Nick] Bgugstad and [Kyle] Rau," said Isackson, who took Zach Budish's spot on the first line with two holdovers from last season. "Those guys are amazing players."
Isackson has played with those two high-end forwards "a pretty good amount" in early practices. The Gophers' first official practice was 11:30 a.m. Saturday and then the exhibition game was at 7 p.m.
Bjugstad had an assist on Isackson's third goal. But his first two at 6:02 and 8:30 came during a five-minute U power play. Coach Don Lucia rolled out three power play units and Isackson was either on the second or third. Not sure which is which. Third-line center Travis Boyd and defenseman Ben Marshall had assists on each of those goals.
Isackson said talks with junior defenseman Nate Schmidt helped him get ready for this season. "He didn't have his best freshman year," Isackson said.
Schmidt went from one point as a freshman to 41 as a sophomore when he had three goals and 38 assists.
This summer, Isackson said he put 100 percent into lifting and skating.
Isackson, of Pine City, played high school hockey at St. Thomas Academy and helped the Cadets win a Class 1A state title in 2008.. Two seasons ago, he led the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL in scoring with 44 regular-season points.
The Buffalo Sabres took him in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL draft. ... About a third of the way into last season, Isackson injured his left hand and was out for a couple of weeks.
* Best highlight that someone came up with for Isackson's online bio on last season was that he won eight of 10 faceoff against St. Cloud State on Jan. 26. That's digging.
* Twenty-two skaters -- plus two goalies -- played for the Gophers and every skater had at least one shot on goal.
* The Gophers blocked nine shots. Travis Boyd and Tom Serratore had two blocks apiece.
* Seven Gophers were a plus-2, five were a plus-1 and nine were zero.
* The Gophers had three power plays, including one that lasted five minutes, and had three goals and 16 shots.
* The Gophers won 29 faceoffs, lost 24. Best in the circle were Ryan Reilly 4-1 and Erik Haula 7-4.
* Looking at shot charts, the Gophers attempted 89 shots. Seven were blocked by defense, 16 missed, one hit a pipe and 65 were on net.
* By line, here is how the scoring broke down:
first line, Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad, 1 a, Christian Isackson, 3 g -- 3 g, 1 a, four points
second line, Sam Warning , 1 g, 1 a, Erik Haula, 2 a, Zach Budish, 1 a -- 1 g, 4 a, five points
third line, Nate Condon, 1 a, Travis Boyd, 2 a, Seth Ambroz, 1 g, 1 a -- 1 g, 4 a, five points
fourth line, Tom Serratore, AJ Michaelson, Jared Larson, no points
two fill-in forwards, Ryan Reilly and Christian Horn, no points
Jake Parenteau and Justin Holl, no points
Seth Helgeson, 1 a, and Ben Marshall, 1 g, 2 a -- 1 g, 3 a, four points
Mike Reilly, 2 a, Mark Alt, 1 g -- 1 g, 2 a, three points
Brady Skjei and Nate Schmidt, no points
BADGERS THUMP U18 U.S. TEAM
Wisconsin beat the U.S. under-18 team 5-0. Goalies Joel Rumpel (nine saves) and Landon Peterson (14) combined for the shutout.
The Badgers scored twice late in the opening period to make it 2-0 Mark Zengerle and Kevin Schulze had the goals..
Freshman Morgan Zilinick and Brendan Woods scored in the second period, Chase Drake in the third.
Drake, a junior defenseman who had played only two games, also had two assists. ... Schulze is a freshman defenseman, Zulinick a freshman forward.
Team USA outshot the Badgers 23-19.
Next Wisconsin plays Northern Michigan at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., Oct. 12-13.
* The Gophers host the U18 national team on Oct. 26 in an exhibition game.