Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Bjugstad bounced back just like Gophers

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Gophers, Men's hockey Updated: November 24, 2011 - 2:01 AM

Nick Bjugstad had the Gophers' first goal and one assist in St. Cloud last weekend, but the Gophers lost the first game of their home and home series with St. Cloud State 4-3.

The 6-5 sophomore center was not happy.  

"I had a rough [last] Friday night up in St. Cloud," Bjugstad said on Wednesday during the Gophers' weekly media day. "I made some defensive errors, it kind of cost us. Thankfully, i came out Saturday night and had some lucky shots that went in.

"I take pride in being a two-way player, so those defensive errors got in my head.  I was pretty upset about that, so we watched video and I’m going to make sure it won’t happen again."

Bjugstad had three shots on net -- and three goals -- and a hat trick. The goals were his 11th, 12th and 13th of season. One game in the first period of the Gophers' 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State, the other two in the third period on power plays.

A short memory helped him. "In college hockey that is huge," Bjugstad said. "Forget about Friday night if you lost. Hopefully, we can put together a better Friday night this weekend. The last two weekends,  we have not come out like we wanted to" the first game.

The Gophers play at Michigan State this weekend. Two Fridays ago, they lost to Wisconsin 3-1 and were shut out until the last two minutes.

BJugstad said he is a little surprised to be tied for the NCAA lead in points (13-8--21). "I wouldn’t expect this kind of year," he said.  "The year I had last year wasn’t the greatest. It is fun having this kind of start, so hopefully we can keep it going."

Last season Bjugstad had eight goals total.

"We all worked really hard in the summer, skated and shot a lot of pucks," he said.

He said he has improved most with his mental approach to college hockey. "Telling myself I can do it, as opposed to playing on my heels," Bjugstad said, "and being nervous for the games. Trying my best and getting shots on net is the key.

He was nervous as a freshman because he always  watched the Gophers growing up. "It was kind of surreal being in a Gopher jersey the first half of the year," he said, " and then I figured it out a little bit. It is a little different game than high school That is what probably made me nervous."

Now Bjugstad is playing with a freshman, left winger Kyle Rau. He said he and redshirt sophomore Zach Budish, the right winger on his line, have figured out that Rau gets made at himself sometimes and its best to let him be.

"Like [against] North Dakota," Bjugstad said. "[Kyle] was not saying anything and he came out the third period and got the game-winning goal. That is just his mentality. He plays a little better when he is angry."

MORE BJUGSTAD QUOTES

On having a more accurate shot this season: "I was missing the net a little bit last year and I wasn’t getting as many shots. That is the key, getting as many shots as you can. and taking the opportunities you can get."

On the estimated 10 odd-man rushes the Gophers had Friday without scoring: "It was pretty frustrating. Our coaches talked about that definitely. There  were a lot of two-on-ones that we passed up. Their 'D' made some good plays but we got to start shooting a little more. We've got a lot of unselfish guys, which is good, but getting shots on net is also important."

On whether ex-Gopher Scott Bjugstad, his uncle, helps him: "He is a season ticket-holder. He comes every weekend. I talk to him quite a bit and he helps me out a lot. He gives me advice because he has been through this whole deal.

"He knows the game really well. I am fortunate to have a guy like him in my life. I think he still has a harder shot than me. We shoot pucks sometimes and he still has a ripper."

 

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