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 should keep playing two goalies -- sometimes at least

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Gophers, Men's hockey Updated: October 30, 2012 - 10:40 AM

Last season senior Kent Patterson played all but 20 minutes last season in the nets for the Gophers.

Mike Shibrowski got to play the third period against Wisconsin on March 2. And, oh I almost forgot, practice goalie Jake Kremer played 46 seconds against Alaska Anchorage in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Other than that, it was always Patterson.

He started the season as the hottest goalie in the country. He  had five shutouts in his first nine games. And even when UMD was scoring four goals against him in back-to-back games, he stopped 96 of 100 shots that weekend. Awesome.

Patterson was so sharp. But whether it was the long grind of a a six-month plus season, better competition or the pressure, he was not the same goalie in the WCHA and NCAA playoffs.

The Gophers made a deep run, to the NCAA title game, but Patterson's playoff stats were so-so. He had a 3.5 goals-against average in six games and a .859 save percentage -- .900 is considered adequate.

But by playoff time, coach Don Lucia had boxed himself into a corner. Shibrowski, a junior competing for the starting job this season, had played one period in 2011-12. Lucia had to stick with Patterson.

Hopefully, when Lucia considers what to do this year with freshman Adam Wilcox and Shibrowski, he has a better strategy. It doesn't really matter if Wilcox, who has played better, plays both games this weekend against Minnesota State Mankato.

What does matter is Shibrowski, if he does become the No. 2, plays at times. Then if Wilcox gets hurt, has a bad night gets sick or just needs a break, it will be much easier for the coach to put Shibrowski in. And it will also give Shibrowksi a better chance to be successful when he does play.

PATTERSON A CUTTHROAT

This season Patterson is playing for the Denver Cutthroats, an affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

He is 1-1 with a 3.74 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage in three games.  Denver is 1-3-0 in the CHL, which puts the Cutthroats 10th in the 10-team Berry Conference.

The Cutthroats' other goalie is Kieran Millan, who played four seasons at Boston University. The Gophers beat BU and Millan in the West Region semifinals at the X last season.

Millan is 0-2-0 with a 5.71 gaa and .842 save percentage.

"They are two great, young prospects for the Avalanche," Cutthroats coach Derek Armstrong said recently. "And they have an opportunity to learn, develop and improve as hockey players with out team.

"They make our roster stronger and we are thrilled to have them."

The Avs drafted Patterson in the fourth round in 2007 and Millan in the fifth round in 2009. Both are 23.

"Last year one of the keys was the play of Kent that first third of the season," Lucia said on media day last month. "It allowed our team to settle in with the confidence [they had in him]. He made some huge saves early in the season to get us off to the start that we had."

Former St. Cloud State forward Tony Mosey is also on the Cutthroats. He is scoreless in four games, but is a plus-2. He was dismissed from the Huskies as a senior in January of 2011.

ETC.

* Gophers defensemen missed only two games with injuries last season.

*  Lucia: "When your best players are good workers. That's when you can have good teams. It is awfully hard to follow when your better players really don't want to put in the time or are maybe a little bit lazy. We don't have that with our group this year."

* The Gophers conducted concussion tests before the year began. What those tests do is set a baseline so, if someone does suffer a head injury, that player can take the test over again and the results are compared.

LUCIA EXPECTS HASTINGS TO DO WELL

Lucia on Mike Hastings, his former assistant and the first-year coach at Minnesota State Mankato: "Mike is going to do a great job. He has coached how many years in the USHL. He has coached [on] the World Junior[s] staff, so he has been around the block.

"For him, it will be a very easy transition, taking over the program and being a head coach. He was probably smart to retain the assistants that were there, at least for a year, and ease that transition."

Hastings was a Nebraska Omaha assistant last season.

Lucia also said on media day that MSU Mankato, whom the Gophers play in a home-and-home series this weekend, has a good team.

"Unfortunately last year for them, they had a boatload of injuries that, in the end, they could not overcome." Lucia said. "But once they got their team together halfway through the year, they were very good. And their top players were all freshmen last year.

"Their top three scorers were all freshmen, they are going to be sophomores, so they are a team, much like [Michigan] Tech the year before, who had the same thing happen. They were devastated by injuries and then Mel [Pearson] came in and those guys came back, a couple of guys off red-shirts, and [Michigan Tech] had a very good year. Minnesota State has the opportunity to do the same thing."

 

 

 

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