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Lucia: Colorado College poses different problem than UND

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • January 16, 2012 - 11:55 PM

Gophers coach Don Lucia said Colorado College will be a much different opponent this weekend than North Dakota was.

"North Dakota is big, strong and they can get around the rink, " Lucia said. 

And Colorado College?  "CC likes to play a little bit more like we do," Lucia said. "They get up and down the rink and they are fast. And they have a very, veteran team. The speed factor will be much more important this weekend for us in our preparation."

Lucia said the Tigers finished last season very well, upsetting Boston College in the NCAA quarterfinals and losing to Michigan by one goal in a regional final.

"They return a majority of their team," Lucia said. "Five of their six D are back, their goaltender is back from last year's team and nine or 10 of their forwards that played at the end of last year are returning.

"For their team, the Schwartzes, that is where it begins with, the two brothers. ... Mike's son, Gabe Guentzel, is their top defenseman. He is having another good year as a senior. He is their main guy on the back line."

Rylan Schwartz had 18 goals and nine assists for a team-high 27 points; Jaden is only three points behind (7-17--24).

"In the nets, it looks like a younger kid has taken the position over for them, Thorimbert, this kid out of western Canada," Lucia said. "I think that is the guy we will see both games this weekend."

Josh Thorimbert, a sophomore from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is 8-3-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Junior Joe Howe of Plymouth was CC's primary goalie the past two season. He is 5-5-1 this season with a 3.51 gaa.

"It is a big series," Lucia said. "We are four points up on them -- t he only two games we see them this year. And certainly it is a team we will  be fighting for with a spot in the standings [at stake] come the end of the season. They were picked, I believe, preseason second in the league.

"They are a good team, they are a quality team, they can skate, they can get around the rink. ... Our fans do enjoy this series as much as any all year long. It is not the big rivalry and intensity when North Dakota comes into our building, but for the skill and the way the game is played, I think our fans really enjoy this weekend."

PLAYERS TOOK FRIDAY LOSS HARD

Lucia said he would have been fine with a 1-1 tie with North Dakota on Friday, but a loss on a goal with under four minutes left was disappointing to him and his players.

"And then you go back to the hotel and you have some fans that are jeering you when you walk in ... that sat in our craw a little bit," Lucia said on his weekly radio show on Monday. "The guys did a good job of getting back and preparing for Saturday and came out and we scored some goals.

"That has been the big issue with us the last few games we lost," he said. "We haven't done anything five-on-five. We had only scored two goals total five-on-five in three games."

All one-goal losses to Northeastern (3-2), Notre Dame (4-3) and North Dakota (2-1).

"It was important to rebound and play well and play hard and we did," Lucia said. "We played with the lead on Saturday night and got up 4-0. They were going to come, which they did. ... We were happy to get out of there with the win on Saturday and move on and get ready for CC this weekend."

The Gophers won the second game 6-2.

"The guys were, the guys were really down after Friday night's game," Lucia said. "They didn't say a word that night. They didn't say a word at breakfast. The trick was, how are we going to handle it as coaches?"

Lucia said he tried to be firm in the pregame meeting before the second game. "But really there was no yelling whatever in our team meeting, it was just these are things we have to do to give ourselves a chance to win," Lucia said, "and the guys responded. We got off to a good start and kept going."

Lucia said Bjugstad, the team's offensive leader, set the tone early in the game. The 6-5 sophomore center scored a goal early in the opening period and late to put the Gophers ahead 2-0.

"We just played a lot better Saturday than we did on Friday," said Lucia, whose team climbed up from No. 5 in both national polls. The Gophers are No. 2 in one poll this week, No. 4 in the other.

LUCIA: EMOTIONS LED TO BAD BLOOD

In the handshake line after Saturday's game, Ben Blood of UND took a swing at Gophers forward Kyle Rau with hand or forearm, hard to tell which. Soon Blood and Seth Ambroz, the player behind Rau, were on the ice wrestling.

Lucia said out-of-control emotions led to the incident. "Unfortunately, some of the emotions got the best of it," he said "That is not what i don't think what they want, that certainly is not what we want. And it happened on Saturday. That shows the intensity of the games, the intensity of the rivalry.

"Once the game is over, it's over and you have to be able to move on and shake hands and be respectful. That's one of the great things about our sport that we do that. ... I've thought about this a lot. In our league, for the most part, we just shake hands at the end of a weekend. Maybe we should shake hands after every game and not just after the weekend? That sportsmanship is important." 

Lucia said he does not think there will be an disciplinary action from the handshake scuffle, nor is it warranted. "The guy got shoved and two guys grabbed each other and it pretty much ended there," Lucia said. "You know what? Move on. ... It is one of those things that happened in the heat of the moment. There is a lot of passion involved in the game."

THE DON SAYS

* On freshman right wing Seth Ambroz, who had a goal and an assist on Saturday: "Seth is the type of player who should thrive in an environment like that, a big, strong kid. We see great progress in him in practice but it just has not transferred yet on a regular basis in games from an offensive standpoint. But he is getting chances.

"For him to get a goal, to get an assist, to get involved in some of the scrums, that is the type of player that he has to be and he came through for us. That whole [third] line did."

Nate Condon, the other wing on the third line, had two goals, while center Taylor Matson had three assists.

* On 'U' defenseman Nate Schmidt being ill: "[He] had the flu. I don't know if he had food poisoning from the night before. But he was sick all night. We really didn't know if he would play until game time. He got an IV before the game. He gave us what he had. He hung in there pretty good. That says a lot about his mental toughness that he was able to play. Because earlier in the day, he didn't look very good. But he rallied and found a way to get it done."

* On Gophers defenseman Mark Alt's major penalty for checking from behind and game disqualification in the third period Saturday: "I know how bad Mark felt. ... He was stepping up to hit the kid and he started to turn. We talked about it at our meeting today. When you see a back, you just have to let up. It's hard to do. ... You are talking tenths of a second to make that decision."


 

 

 

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