Gophers next opponent: St. Cloud State amazingly penalty free
- Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
- February 4, 2013 - 12:49 PM
The Gophers are going to run into a hot team this weekend when they play at St Cloud State.
The Huskies, who are in first place in the WCHA with a 14-5-1 record for 29 points, have a nine-game unbeaetn streak (8-0-1) in the conference after sweeping Bemidji State last weekend by scores of 4-0 and 4-1 on the road..
But SCSU is only 3-5-0 against nonconference opponents, so the Huskies' overall record is 17-10-1.
One reason for the Huskies' success is they stay out of the penalty box. SCSU did not have one penalty in the Bemidji State series. The Huskies are 59th, or last in the nation, in penalty minutes per game at 8.5 penalty minutes per game.
The Gophers better score some 5-on-5 goals this weekend because the number of power plays they have could be limited. Their power play is good, third in the nation at 24.8 percent.
U players also are pretty good at staying out of the box. The Gophers are 49th in penalty minutes, averaging 10.7 per game.
Gophers coach Don Lucia often says a college team is as good as its senior. Well, the Huskies seniors are playing well, especially Drew LeBlanc.
The redshirt senior cocaptain missed almost all of last season with a broken leg. He had a goal and an assist, his 30th of the season, in the second game against the Beavers.
The 30 assists leads the nation and his 38 points are second.
Ben Hanowski, the other senior cocaptain, has 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points.
FRESHMEN DANGEROUS, TOO
Not only are the older players doing well, so are the freshmen.
Forward Jonny Brodzinski of Blaine has a a 13-game point streak.
He had two goals against the Beavers, one each game. The first one was an empty-netter. His 13 goals are first among all rookies in the nation.
Kalle Kossila, a forward from Finland, leads WCHA rookie and ranks fourth in the nation for freshmen with 25 points. He has 12 goals and 13 assists.
Other SCSU players to watch:
* Junior forward Nic Dowd gas fifth game-winning goals this season, which ties a team record and is second in the nation. He has 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points -- all career highs. Not bad for a player from the South. He is from Huntsville, Alabama.
* Sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher leads the WCHA with a 1.89 goals-against average in conference games.
* Junior defensemen Nick Jensen has 18 assists, second most in the naton among blue-liners.
* The Huskies are scoring 3.32 goals per game, the Gophers 3.77. That's eighth and first in the nation.
* The Huskies give up 2.32 goals per game.
The Gophers remain No. 1 in uscho's web poll. They have 30 first-place votes. Second is Quinnipiac, the Bobcats have 20 votes for the top spot and have a 19-game (16-0-3) unbeaten streak.
Six other WCHA teams are also in uscho's top 20: North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Denver are bunched from No. 7 to 9, Minnesota State os No. 11, Nebraska Omaha No. 14 and Wisconsin No. 19.
In this week's USA Today ratings, the Gophers also are No. 1 and Quinnipiac No. 2 but the gap keeps closing. Gophers lead 494-488 in points, 21-13 in first-place votes. ... SCSU is No. 10 in this poll.
In the PairWise rankings, which are based on statistical comparisons and mimic how the NCAA fills and seeds its postseason tournament field, Quinnipiac of New Haven, Conn., is No. 1 and the Gophers No. 2.
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