"There is always high expectations when you come to a program like Minnesota," Flynn said."The past couple years have been tough, especially last year not making it to the NCAAs, The expectation every year is to make it to NCAAs and do well in postseasdon. Right now that is our goal, We did not get off to the start we wanted to. the first half of the year, obviously."

The Gophers are in seventh in the WCHA standings, and one game below .500. 

"We are confident going forward. We got a couple big wins in Michigan Tech and we are looking forward to the holiday tournament."

Minnesota will play Bowling Green at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2 in the second game of the Dodge Holiday Classic and then meet either Northern Michigan or Clarkson at 7 p.m. the next night.

Bowling Green is 2-14-2, tied for 11th place in the CCHA. Northern Michigan is 6-8-4 tied for seventh in the CCHA and Clarkson is 4-10-2, tied for 10th in the ECAC.

Q. How bad was having to play North Dakota and Denver in the first two series of the season?

 A. Those are a couple good teams right out of the gate. We knew we had a tough schedule coming out and we did not fare as well as we wanted to, definintely, come out of those first four games. But we have them both the second half of the year and we hope to do better against them coming up, I think our team is jelliing pretty well right now. We got some good chemistry, We defintely got to keep on winning because we dug ourselves a hole the first half.

Q. You play your next six games at home and seven of your next eight, but you have not played well there. The Gophers are 3-6 at Mariuccia Arena this season. Why?

A. We definitely. think of Mariucci as our home ice advantage. We haven’t fared as well as wanted here so far. But we are confident going forward we will be able to turn the ship around.

We love our fans in Minnesota and we are excited to play here every single night. Mariucci is a great atmosphere. So far it hasn’t gone our way but we are looking to turn it around.

Q. How will you do that?

 A. We are building some team chemistry, The last Mankato game and then against Michigan Tech that contributed, that got on score sheet that normally haven’t been on the score sheet this year. And that’s what we need to continue doing, We need to get contributions from all four lines to be successful.

Q. Coach Don Lucia said you played your best series of the season in Houghton. Did you?

A. I felt good up in Michigan Tech. As a team, I thought those were two gritty wins for us and we needed those wins no matter what, especially going up there 6-9-1.

 It wasn’t easy.They are a tough team to play. They don't give up much 5-on-5. They have been struggling a little bit on their specialty teams, especially their penalty kill. It was good to gut out a couple wins.

Q. Thoughts on the 6:30 a.m. practices the week before the Tech series and losing your locker room? (Lucia told the players to dress in the visitors' locker room.)

A. It was on us, We had not performed the way we are capable of performing so far. It was kind of a wakeup call more than anything to get us going. Especially on Friday nights, we seemed to be lagging a little bit on Friday nights and then come back on Saturdays."

 Q. Why all the problems on Fridays?

A.  Some of it was [bad] bounces, but some of us we were lackadaisical a little bit starting out Friday night and then we kind of turned it on Saturday night. Last Friday was our best Friday game, ... We did get down 2-0 but we also outshot them, we got like 18 shots on net in the first period, We didn’t play that bad, Both their goals were power-play goals which is something we needed to clean up, too.

 Q. Talk about your struggles the past three years. What do you remember from your sophomore year?

A. Obviously, looking back at my freshman year, it was kind of a surprise.  We didn’t lose any forwards [for the next season], We did lose three big defensemen, {Eric] Johnson, [Alex] Goligoski, and {Mike] Vannelli so that kiind of hurt our D-corps.

 We had a young D-corps that year. It was tough [our sophomore year], That was our first wake-up call, this is the WCHA hockey, It is not like we are gong to come in here every single weekend and breeze by teams like we did our freshman year. We came to rink expecting to get four points every single weekend, no matter what. It was kinda a given we were going to get four points my freshman year.

 "But in the last years, it has been tough. We have to play our A game to get points every single weekend, ... Sophomore year ... we did a good job coming together at the end of the year. We beat Mankato in the playoffs, made it to Final Five and made it to the championship game, And we ended up making the NCAA tournament, whcih was big for us and what we expect."

 Q. How did it feel last year, just missing the NCAA tournament?

A.  Our second half wasn’t what we expected it to be. We let some games get away that we shouldn’t let get away. Wee didn’t win those one-goal games that we were winning at the beginning of last year and that definitely hurt us come the end of the season in PairWise and what not.

This year we need to continue winning some tough, gritty games. That’s the kind of team we are going to be, we are going to score 7, 8 goals a game.

Q. How important is it to win the four nonconference games coming up?

 A. It is definitiely. better for the WCHA regardless of who is playing because it looks better in the PairWise, If we get those wins [in the four upcoming nonconference games], it will be big for us and the WCHA to get more teams into the [NCAA] tournament at the end of the year.

Q. Are the coaches doing a good job?

A. Our coaches have always been great, They have been very supportive, we got some of the best coaches in the nation here. There is nothign wrong with the coaches. It's been good. I've know them for four years. Grant [Potulnty] had come here  this year and he been great. We got the right tools to do something.

Q. Can you make a second-half run?

A. Eevery single team ahead of us is right now is within striking distance. There is definitely  room to climb the ladder.

Q. Why are the Gophers having so much trouble scoring?

A. College hockey is a little bit different than high school hockey, There is a little bit of an adjustment period, At times we find ot tough to score sometimes, but that has to do with doing some of the little things. Get net front presence, get more shots on net and crashing the net a little bit more, That’s how you score goals. you just don;t do the fancy dancy stuff in college hockey.

That’s what we need to continue building on, getting those gritty goals, driving the net and getting some rebound. goals. That’s how you score when it comes to this level.

That's what the coahes have been preaching us, All of us know that’s what we got to do for our team to be successful, We are not as skilled as some of the past Gopher hockey teams that have been here.