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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Gophers' offense at its best in third period

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Gophers, Men's hockey, Gophers postgame Updated: March 12, 2012 - 10:13 AM

The seven goals the Gophers scored in beating Alaska Anchorage on Saturday were the most for them since a 9-0 victory over Sacred Heart in the season opener on Oct. 7.

The four goals the Gophers scored in the third period against UAA was a feat they have accomplished only three times before this season. They had four goals in the second and third periods in their season opener and four goals in the third period of a 6-2 victory over Michigan Tech on Dec. 10.

The Gophers have outscored opponents 51-18 in the third period, or nearly three to one.

In the second period, the Gophers edge is a slim 45-41. They also dominate the first period, 41-21, or almost two to one.

SWEEP WAS NEEDED

The Gophers went into their first-round WCHA series with Alaska Anchorage tied for sixth in the PairWise ratings, actually they were seventh, based on the RPI tie-breaker. So what did a sweep of UAA do? They dropped to eighth.

The Seawolves finished last in the WCHA, so beating them did not do much for the Gophers' RPI (strength of schedule). If UAA had swept the U, the Gophers probably would have fallen close to the bubble on the PairWise. Normally only the top 13, 14 teams in the PairWise ratings make the national tournament, most of them with at-large bids.

SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLE

The Gophers' special teams struggled on Saturday despite the Gophers' 7-3 romp over UAA. The power plays was one-for-7 and had only nine shots on net. The penalty kill gave up three power play goals to the Seawolves in four chances.

Nationally, the GOphers are still seventh on the power play at 22.5 percent, but they have fallen to 31st on the penalty kill at 81.5 percent.

Looking at the offense and defense as a whole, the Gophers are third nationally in both. They are scoring 3.56 goals per game, and giving up 2.10 goals. So the team's scoring margin is 1.46, second best in the country.

Senior goalie Kent Patterson is second in minutes played, with 2,317.31. He is 12th nationally with a 2.12 goals-against average.

His save percentage of .914 is 33rd. He is 10th with a .679 winning percentage based on a 26-12-1 mark. He is tied for the lead in most shutouts with seven.

In scoring, five Gophers are among the national leaders:

* Center Nick Bjugstad is third in goals with 24.

* Defenseman Nate Schmidt is tied for fourth with 33 assists.

* Kyle Rau is tied for first in goals scored by a freshman with 16 ... He is tied for second among rookies in points per game at 1.000, tied for third in game-winning goals with six, and is fourth in total points with 36.

* Erik Haula, with a six-point weekend, is tied for 13th in points with 44.

* Nate Condon is tied for second in short-handed goals with four.

ETC.

* I went a disappointing 10-6 last week in picking WCHA playoff games. Condsidering there were only 13 games, how is that possible? I picked some series to go three that ended in games.

I picked two upsets, Wisconsin over Denver -- the Pios won in three -- and Nebraska Omaha over St. Cloud State -- the Huskies swept. I contemplated picked Michigan Tech over Colorado College, but didn't and, of couse, Tech swept.

Got the Gophers and UMD sweeps right, but my crystal ball was pretty cloudy. Won't stop me from forecasting again later this week.

* The Gophers' comeback win from two goals down against Alaska Anchorage on Saturday was only the second time this season they have made up such a deficit. On Oct. 15 at UMD, the Gophers trailed 2-0 in the first period and won 5-4.

THREE STARS LEADERS

After every Gophers' home game, the three stars are named. Can you guess who won  the competition after the regular season? Actually it was a tie. Erik Haula had a strong final weekend with four goals and two assists in a sweep of Alaska Anchorage to catch Nick Bjugstad.

The player named first star gets five points, the second star three and the third star one. The leaders:

                                    1st      2nd     3rd

Erik Haula                   4        2        --            26

Nick Bjugstad             2         4         4          26

Jake Hansen              3         2         --           21

Kent Patterson           2         1         2           15

Nate Schmidt              1         1         4           12

Kyle Rau                      1         1         3           11

Zach Budish               1          2        --           11

Nine other players have between eight points and one.

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