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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Amid turmoil in college hockey, Gophers unscathed so far

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Gophers, Men's hockey Updated: December 17, 2011 - 10:33 AM

In recent days, Wild prospect Charlie Coyle left the Boston University program. Alex Hudson, one of Nebraska Omaha's top forwards, was dismissed from the team, and Denver announced Beau Bennett, a first round NHL draft pick, would need wrist surgery and be out for six to eight weeks.

A lot of good teams have unexpected problems. But one team that has stayed clear of turmoil and injuries is the No. 2-rated Gophers. Except for several hard-to-figure Friday losses, coach Don Lucia's team has had an amazingly smooth ride so far.

The Gophers are 14-5-1 and have not lost back-to-back games. There have been no serious injuries. Even illnesses have been few. Nick Larson missed Saturday's game with the flu. Blake Thompson had mono and Christian Isackson had some kind of an infection.

Lucia has played Kent Patterson in goal every minute, and the same 12 forwards have played just about every game with minor changes, usually to the fourth line. The top six defensemen have primarily been the same, too.

Partly because of that good health, a team picked by both the coaches and media to finish sixth in a preseason WCHA poll, is tied for first place with Minnesota Duluth.

As for other teams ... St. Cloud State has lost two of its three captains most likely for the season with injuries. Denver is starting its third string goalie because of injuries to the first two. And Minnesota State has had one injury after another.

Coyle, according to most reports, left school to play hockey full-time for the St. John Seadogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He was a first round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2010 but was traded to the Wild in the Brett Burns deal.

Last season he was Hockey East's rookie of the year. BU is 10-5-1 this season and he was the tied for third in scoring on the Terriers with three goals and 11 assists for 14 points i 16 games. He was a plus-7.

 

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