ADVERTISEMENT

Lucia expects up-tempo, skating series with St. Cloud

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • November 15, 2011 - 12:44 PM

Coach Don Lucia said Monday on his weekly radio show that WCHA teams, even with yearly roster changes, don't change the way they play too much.

"This week against St. Cloud, they are going to want to get up and down the rink a little bit more," Lucia said, referring to the Huskies. "It should be a highly entertaining game this weekend because both teams will go after each other." 

Two of the Huskies' three captains are out with injuries. Junior goalie Mike Lee has two lower body injuries and was scheduled to have surgery Tuesday on one of them, according to reports in the St. Cloud Daily Times. Senior forward Drew LeBlanc has two broken bones in one of his legs from a collision into the boards earlier this month against Wisconsin.

"It hasn't affected their goaltending," Lucia said.

He said Ryan Faragher, the freshman goalie who has taken Lee's place in the nets, has better stats than Lee did. "[Ryan] is more than capable," Lucia said.

"They will miss Drew LeBlanc who was the Huskies' leading scorer with 39 points last season," Lucia said. "[Drew] did have a bad broken leg; I saw it on tape. It makes you shiver when you see his leg in a position it is not supposed to be at."

Lucia said he talks to SCSU coach Bob Motzko every week because they remain good friends. They have know each other for many years and Motzko was on the Gophers staff before he got the Huskies job.

"[Bob] likes his team," Lucia said. "Obviously, it is a blow losing LeBlanc to a broken leg, but they have done what they needed to do. They went to North Dakota and split, they split down at Mankato. They have another road series at [Nebraska] Omaha  next weekend. What they have tried to do with all their road games is hang in there and they have been able to do that.

"It should be a good up and down series. We are pretty evenly matched with the top three lines, and D-corps and goaltending. We didn't play up there last year, so we have 15 kids [freshmen and sophomores] that are probably playing Friday night that have never played in the National Hockey Center. I am looking forward to it."

TWO BIG GOALS VERSUS BADGERS

Lucia on the Gophers' first two goals in the third period at Wisconsin on Saturday, which broke a 1-1 tie:

Taylor Matson's goal at 6:14/ "We caused a turnover in the neutral zone -- a quick transition back -- and that's how we scored."

Nick Bjugstad's unassisted goal at 12:16/ "On Bjugstad's goal, [Zach] Budish made a great play along the wall, which I didn't see until I watched the tape. He influenced that pass [that bad Wisconsin turnover] because he got up and on a forecheck and hammered the guy.

"And the guy gave it up early because he knew he was going to get hit [by Budish]. And he put it right on Bjugstad's tape. Wrong guy to put it on. Nice pass right to the slot. And then it is 3-1 and pretty much game over the way the game is going."

THE DON SAYS

* On how opponents are trying to stop 5-8 freshman Kyle Rau, who has eight goals, including four game-winners: "They are going after him a little bit physically. They are doing a lot of talking to him, trying to find ways to get him off his game. You have to ignore those things as a player."

* On playing at St. Cloud State on Friday: "It is almost easier to go up there on a Saturday than a Friday because you can never gauge the traffic on Friday on [Highways] 694 and 94 when you are heading up through Rogers and that area. You don't know if the trip is going to take an hour or an hour and a half."

Or longer from my experience. Traffic can come to a standstill sometimes at rush hour.

* On home and home series: "When you are this close [together], that's what you want to do. When you can play one home game on a weekend, that is just better for your fans who will be coming out one night on a weekend rather than two and having that extra weekend where you get another home game."

* On injuries or illnesses: He said the only player out is freshman forward Christian Isackson, who didn't skate last week and won't this week. He is being treated with antibiotics for an infection. "He should be good to go on Monday once it cleans out his system." 

© 2014 Star Tribune