At the start of this season, the great unknown with the Gophers men's hockey team was in the nets. Could Adam Wilcox or Mike Shibrowski handle the job?
Shibby is hurt now and not playing. Wilcox is playing at an elite level. So well that on Wednesday Wilcox was named the Hockey Commissioners Association's (HCA) rookie of the month for November.
Wilcox, a freshmen who played for Tri-City of the USHL last season and hails from South St. Paul, was 5-2-2 with a 1.75 goals-against average last month and a .925 save percentage.
He gave up two or fewer goals in eight of his nine starts and had a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2).
Justin Johnson, in his fourth season as a volunteer men's goalie coach at the U, works with Wilcox and the other goalies on the men's team.
Here is where Wilcox stands among WCHA goalies in key categories in overall games:
1st -- 1.61 goals-against average
1st in wins -- 9-2-2
3rd -- .925 save percentage
He is a Tampa Bay draft pick.
WOMEN'S NATIONAL ROOKIE ALSO GOPHER
Freshman center Hannah Brandt of the Gophers women's hockey team is the American Hockey Coaches Association's rookie of the month for November.
Brandt had six goals and eight assists for 14 points. She has 18 goals overall and 45 points, second in the nation behind only teammate Amanda Kessel who has 48 points.
The Gophers are 18-0 this season and have won 26 games in a row, an NCAA record. They also have 15 consecutive road wins, which ties another NCAA mark. They can break it Friday in the first game of a two-game series at Bemidji State.
MEN'S PLAYER OF MONTH FROM ROSEMOUNT
The HCA's national player of the month is another Minnesotan, junior forward Ryan Walters of Nebraska Omaha.
The Mavericks were 7-0-0 last month and Walters was a big reason why. The 6-0, 196-pound Walters, who is from Rosemount and played for St. Thomas Academy, had six goals and nine assists for 15 points in seven games.
He had no points in the first game of the month, then had multi-points the next six. He also had a five-game streak with at least one goal.
Walters, who originally committed to the Gophers, leads the WCHA in points (6-14-20) and has played in 89 consecutive games.
He left St. Thomas Academy after his sophomore season to play in the USHL for two years. But when the Gophers asked him to play a third, instead of bringing him in after high school, he started looking at other schools.
Walters was a plus-8 in November and had 31 shots on goal, an average of 4.4 per game.
RATY ON ROLL
Senior goalie Noora Raty of the Gophers women's hockey team also earned an honor Wednesday. She was named the WCHA defensive player of the week for the second time this season and the 11th time in her career.
She made 41 saves as the Gophers swept Wisconsin in a series for the first time since 2005. She had 22 saves in the first game, 19 in the second which the Gophers won 2-0.
She had seven shutouts this season, 33 in her her career; 39 is the national record. Raty has 92 career victories, 100 is the NCAA record in women's hockey.
Andy Kent, a former Augsburg College goalie, works with Raty. He is in his first season as the volunteer goalie coach for the Gophers women's hockey team. Kent also coaches goalies for the Roseville boys' hockey team and at a goalie school called MEGA goaltending.
Alabama-Huntsville, one of the teams in the Mariucci Classic, is having a rough season. The Chargers are 1-12-1.
Last season, it looked like the school would drop the program which really played havoc with this season's schedule. Many team dropped UAH and, when the program was revived, the Chargers had to take any games they could get.
That's why UAH, an independent for the third season, is playing 20 of it 22 games against Division I opponents on the road, either at neutral sites -- like Minneapolis in the Mariucci Classic later this month -- or in opponents' arenas.
But the Chargers keep plugging away, hoping they will be the 10th team in the new WCHA. For a story on the program, go here.