Penalty-killing woes, tough Seawolves both 'U' concerns this weekend
- Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
- January 24, 2011 - 11:30 PM
Gophers coach Don Lucia said the team's penalty killers will try to be more aggressive the rest of the season.
"I still maintain that 90 percent of the time we kill the power play perfect, but like [the North Dakota] weekend, we gave up a five-on-three," Lucia said Monday on his weekly radio show on WCCO. "Two of [the goals on] power plays we gave up were a direct result of not clearing the puck.
"We had the puck two different times, by two older guys, on the wall with no duress and we cleared it right to their defensemen. And it never came out of the zone again and they scored. Those are the things that are so frustrating. We failed to clear it numerous times this year. You've got to make a play."
The Gophers are 12th in the WCHA in penalty killing, which used to be a strength in recent seasons. Theyhave killed off 72 of 98 power plays, or 73.5 percent. Alaska Anchorage is only slightly better, ranking 10th at 80 percent (80 of 100).
"We are getting good goaltending. We are getting that," Lucia said. "He has to be your best penalty killer. And now the guys front of him have to do a better job."
ALASKA ANCHORAGE BETTER
The Seawolves have gotten at least one point in every WCHA series except their first one of the season against UMD and their last series at Denver last weekend. That's a point or more in seven of nine conference series. The Gophers also have points in seven of nine WCHA series; Nebraska Omaha and Minnesota State swept the 'U'.)
The Bulldogs beat UAA 3-2 in OT and 6-0 on Oct. 22-23; the Pioneers swept UAA 3-2, 5-1 last weekend.
"They have done a good job of winning on a regular basis this year," Lucia said. "They swept CC the weekend before up in Alaska."
The Seawolves flew to Minneapolis after the Denver series to cut down on their travel time, so they won't be dealing with jet lag.
'We know what to expect" from them, Lucia said. "We want to push the pace of the game. But they've got some good freshmen that can get around the rink pretty well."
Senior forward Tommy Grant leads the Seawolves in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points; next is freshman forward Jordan Kwas with three goals and 13 assists for 16.
"And their freshman goalie has played well," Lucia said. "What hurt them in the past more than anything else, was their goaltending was very erratic the last couple of years.
"And this guy seems to have done a really good job of giving them a chance to win each and every night."
UAA's goalie is Rob Gunderson. He is 6-9-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage.
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