Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad was quizzed on everything Wednesday at the weekly media day the Gophers hold. Here are some of his answers.
1. Thoughts on Gophers coach Don Lucia: "He has got a great history, two national championships back to back. I watched coach Lucia coach both those teams. i always looked up to him. He is a Minnesota icon in my eyes.
"He is a big reason I am here. He is a great coach. And [there’s] great tradition within the program.
"We are just applying more of the stuff he is telling us this year as opposed to last year. The coaching staff has done a really good job with us this year."
2. Thoughts on being in an NCAA regional for the first time in four years? "Playing at the Xcel will be awesome, playing in front of our home crowd. We can’t be just happy to be there. We have not made it the last couple of years, the last three years. Our goal is to make it to the Frozen Four. That is the main goal, so we want to make sure we bring it every game.
"We haven’t seen BU this year. They haven’t see us either, so we are boat in the same boat. We will watch video. We will see their tendencies and their better players. We will be prepared for what they have. I know they are a hard-working team, they are very physical and we will be on a smaller ice sheet. At the Xcel, it will be a gritty game. and i think it will be exciting for everyone.
"I am super excited to play in the NCAA tournament. It will be awesome but, like i said, we don’t want to stop there. We want to keep going from there."
3. Thoughts on the loss to North Dakota last week: “We have had a little chip on our shoulder the past couple of weeks [days of waiting seemed a lot longer for Bjugey] just because of that loss. We had them and we just kind of, for the lack of a better term, we kind of choked. We learned from that. And I think it will be a good learning experience down the road. We will deal with some adversity. I’m sure in the next couple of games, there is going to be some good teams."
The Gophers were back practicing the next day, Saturday, after losing to UND. " It was tough. Obviously, we knew we could have been playing on Saturday if we put the third period together. We had to move on. we all knew we were going to be in the [NCAA] tournament. We were guaranteed a spot. ... We had a pretty good practice. Everybody was working hard, and we had a good attitude."
4. Thoughts on maybe playing UND again: "You can’t really look ahead to it. They are in the same bracket as us. They are really hot right now. If it does end up that way I am sure it will be a great game.
"We proved we could basically play with anyone. [To] take a lead like that early in the game, it was good. But we kind of sat back on our heals and it was tough experience, especially in front of our home crowd. We learned from that, which is going to be big going down the stretch."
5. Thoughts on goalie Kent Patterson, who gave up five goals in under 10 minutes in the third period against UND: "He is a great goaltender. Everyone is going to have a hiccup here and there. We rely on him heavily, but we have to do a better job in front of the net, get sticks, which we didn’t do against North Dakota this past game. I am sure he is going to have a little chip on his shoulder as well and he is going to take that to heart and play really well this Saturday.
Bonus topic. Thoughts on Gophers women's team winning NCAA title on Sunday: "We see a lot of those girls [weight]-lifting and we skate with them sometimes. So it is a great honor for them and we are proud of them."
FYI: Since missing the first Wisconsin game on March 2, Bjugstad has one goal and one assist in four games. He was injured Feb. 25 in the second game of a series at Nebraska Omaha. The Gophers' one game-and-out in the Final Five enabled him to get a little extra rest for this weekend.