St. Cloud State Bob Motzko had a lot of nice words to say about the Gophers after playing them last weekend. The teams split, with the Gophers winning 4-2 Friday and the Huskies 4-3 Saturday at the National Hockey Center.
"It was a grear weekend, the intensity in the building was fantastic," Motzko said on his weekly radio show on Monday. "The big-time players played big. Minnesota had a great team. Their top players were good and our top players were good."
He said the Huskies had a tough time on Friday adjusting to the Gophers' speed, after playing two teams that like to dump the puck deep and chase before them.
"They don't dump the puck, they are a little mirror of ourselves. ... They are a tough team to play on a onetime shot."
This was the only regular-season series the two teams play this season, so that's why it wasn't a home-and-home series like it has been when they have played twice.
"The second night they didn't have lot of chances," said Motzko, a former Gophers assistant and still a friend of U coach Don Lucia. "They are a good defensive team. They get back on you, they make it hard to generate offense."
He said the Huskies did a much better job limiting the Gophers to high-quality scoring chances on Saturday: "The second night it was 8-8."
Although the Gophers had a 39-21 dominance in shots, he said many of the Gophers' shots, perhaps 10, were by defensemen from the blue line. Not dangerous.
BIG GUNS SCORED
So who were the key players who scored in this series?
Gophers leading scorer Erik Haula, a junior center, had two goals and two assists, giving him 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points.
Sophomore forward Kyle Rau had three assists, giving him 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points, second on the team
Junior defenseman Nate Schmidt had two goals and one assist, giving him eight goals and 20 assists, third.
Nick Bjugstad had two goals for the Gophers, giving him 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points, fourth
Nate Condon had a goal and an assist, giving him 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points, fifth.
On the St. Cloud State side,
Senior cocaptain Drew LeBlanc had two goals, giving him 10 goals and 30 assists for 40 points, first.
Junior Nic Dowd had a goal and an assist, giving him 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points, second.
Freshman Kalle Kossila had two assists, giving hm 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points, third.
Freshman Jonny Brodinks had one goal, giving him 14 goals and nine assists for 23 points, tied for fourth.
Defenseman Nick Jensen had two assists, giving him three goals and 10 assists for 23 points, tied for fourth.
On Joey Benik, a freshman from St. Francis, getting his first college goal on Friday: "It was great for Joey. ... He had his best week of practice the week before. ... We [coaches] thought for sure he was going to score this weekend."
On the Gophers two mid-third period goals on Friday by Erik Haula at 9:32 and Nate Schmidt at 10:30: "They scored two goals in 50 seconds. That took the wind out of us." It also made the score 4-2. Both came during 4-on-4 situations.
CATCHY NAME NEEDED
Boston College won its fourth Beanpot tournament in a row on Monday, beating Northeastern 6-3. Sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau, probably BC's most dangerous scorer, had two goals.
Johnny G. now has 15 goals. He had been in a little slump, one goal in his past 11 games. He missed the Eagles' 8-1 loss to the Gophers in the Mariucci Classic. He was playing for the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
With the Beanpot over, it brings to mind the Minnesota tournament next season. Plans for it have not been announced, just bits and pieces. Almost certainly it will be in the Xcel Energy Center -- I wrote Mariucci a while back, causing a fuss. And four of the five Minnesota Division I teams will play in it.
The Gophers will play St. Cloud State in one first-day game, Minnesota State Mankato will play Minnesota Duluth in the others. Then the first-day winners and losers will meet. Hopefully, it won't be called the Minnesota Cup or the Minnesota Invitational.
It needs a clever name. I suggested the Hot Dish a long time ago. I'm sure there are plenty of good names out there, but whichever one is chosen has to have a Minnesota-ring to it. Agreed?