Don Lucia said on one of his radio shows recently that the week off came at a great time for his team. Now the Gophers play the next five weekends.
"The games get tighter, they become more important as you fight for those points in the WCHA standings," he said. "You are trying for something. Whether it is to win the league or to be in the top two or three. Or certainly to be in the top six for home ice in the first round.
"It is going to be a great finish here in the final year of what we know as the WCHA today."
The Gophers play arguably their biggest series of the season this weekend. They are at No. 1 St. Cloud State, then go to Wisconsin the next weekend.
"The next couple weekends on the road will go a long way in dictating whether we will be in position or not," Lucia said. "... If we can do pretty well on the road the next couple of weekends, then all of a sudden the schedule turns back in our favor with four of the final six at home."
The Gophers are coming off a split against Minnesota State Mankato two weekends ago. They lost 2-1 on Friday at Mariucci Arena, then won 4-1 on Saturday in Mankato.
Lucia said the commitment level of his players was reflected in the blocked shots the two nights. The Gophers had eight blocked shots on Friday, 30 on Saturday.
St. Cloud State is 14-5-1 in the WCHA for 29 points. The Gophers, with two games in hand on the Huskies, are tied for third with a 10-4-4 record for 24 points.
* Expect Erik Haula to be back at center this weekend. That's his normal position, and where he feels the most comfortable, Lucia said. Haula has been playing a wing on Nick Bjugstad's line in recent games while he healed from a hand injury.
YOUNG HUSKIES SCORING A LOT
St. Cloud State's seven freshmen are the third highest scoring class of rookies in the nation. Behind only Penn State, a first-year varsity team and Colgate. The Gophers play at St. Cloud State on Friday and Saturday. The Gophers have six freshmen on their roster, including goalie Adam Wilcox. They have combined for 19 points. Defenseman Mikey Reilly has 11 of those points. He had two goals and nine assists.
Highest Scoring Freshman Classes
113 points – Penn State (14 freshmen)
98 – Colgate (8)
85 – St. Cloud State (7)
71 – Bentley (8)
69 – Miami (11)
68 – Providence (12)
64 – Army (13)
60 – Boston University (9)
58 – Northeastern (8)
57 – Minnesota Duluth (8)
(Number of freshmen includes goalies)
SOURCE: College Hockey, Inc.