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.
Bruce McLeod, the longtime commissioner of the WCHA, said he hopes Ferris State and the Gophers win in Thursday's semifinals.
The Gophers are a present member of the WCHA, he said, and Ferris State is a future member of the conference. The Bulldogs will leave the CCHA and join the WCHA in 2013-14 when the Gophers leave for the Big Ten Conference.
THE DON SAYS
Coach Don Lucia's thoughts on his players, coaches after the West Regional:
On second line right wing Jake Hansen: He has had a high motor all season long. ... He is not one of the focal points of our offense, but his game has really rounded out this year. He is as good a penalty killer as we have had all season long."
On third line left wing Nate Condon: He's got speed and seems to score big goals. He has been outstanding on the penalty kill. He is a good two-way defensive player as well."
On defenseman Nate Schmidt: He had a breakout year. A guy that we thought had the ability, the talent. He learned what it meant to work this past year, especially this offseason, getting himself iin great shape. He has earned everything he received this year. He is very deserving being a second team all-league player."
On what assistant coach Grant Potulny has added: "He has got the experience, having been through [a Frozen Four with the Gophers]. He works with the forwards on a daily basis, breaking down video and showing them line by line what they can and cannot do."
On goalie coach Justin Johnson: "Justin did a great job with Kent" Patterson the week before the West Regional.
On associate head coach Mike Guentzel: "certainly Mike Guentzel has been terrific all season long in working with the defensemen and penalty kill and has brought that enthusiasm as a great alum into our program again. ... Grant does a lot of the recruiting. He is gone more than anybody. He is kind of the recruiting coordinator. Mike does a lot of the video breakdown.
What a great college hockey doublehead today on TV. Two WCHA rivals -- the Gophers and North Dakota -- knock heads at the Xcel Energy Center.
If you are coming to the game and go in the wrong door, you will be surrounded by motorcycles. The Donnie Smith Bike Show is next door in the same complex. Lots of chrome, denim, tatoos, beards and wheels.
In the X there will be lots of big hits, cheers, and emotion at the end. One team is going to be very happy. One very sad. And it's a pretty even matchup. Gophers hold a 3-2 lead in season series, but Sioux won two of last three games.
Other game on TV matches UMD, the defending national champion, and Boston College, which won the title two years ago. Both know what it takes to get to the Frozen Four and what to do when they get there.
Here is the TV lineup for today:
Sunday's second-round games
Boston University vs. Gophers in West, 2 p.m. ... ESPNU (tape delay)
North Dakota vs. Gophers in West, 4:30 p.m. ... ESPNU
Boston College vs. Minnesota Duluth in Northeast, 7 p.m. ... ESPNU
Frozen Four pairings
Semifinals on Thursday, April 5
Union (East champion) vs. Ferris State (Midwest champion), 3:30 p.m. ... ESPNU
UMD/Boston College (Northeast champion) vs. UND/Gophers (West champion), 7 p.m. .. ESPN2
Championship on Saturday, April 7
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m. ... ESPN2
The Gophers line-up for Sunday's afternoon tilt with the Fighting Sioux:
1st line/ #7 Kyle Rau -- #27 Nick Bjugstad -- #24 Zach Budish ... Top line has to be good, or at least slow down NoDak's top line ... Bjugey has not been his dominating self since his injury in Omaha last month. Rau got his 18th goal vs. BU
2nd line/ #11 Sam Warning -- #19 Erik Haula -- #27 Jake Hansen ... Hansen had two goals vs. Terriers. Haula has been Gophers' best player in playoffs
3rd line/ #16 Nate Condon -- #22 Travis Boyd -- #9 Taylor Matson ... Matson and Condon are teams two top penalty killers. They were busy Saturday because BU had seven power plays
4th line/ #14 Tom Serratore -- #13 Nico Sacchetti -- #17 Seth Ambroz ... Ambroz was hurt blocking a shot Saturday and was helped off the ice but came back later in that game and is OK for today. He is a big, strong kid.
#4 Seth Helgeson -- #12 Justin Holl ... Helgey scored his fifth goal on Saturday
#10 Ben Marshall -- #20 Mark Alt ... Alt will need to be physical against the Sioux
#6 Jake Parenteau -- #29 Nate Schmidt ... Schmitty had two assists vs. BU, now up to 37 after having one as a freshman
#35 Kent Patterson ... he will start his 63rd game in a row today dating back to Dec. 2010 ... John Lothrop started 80 in the 1960s, but Patterson is second now, having passed Robb Stauber who had 61 consecutive starts
THREE KEY FOR GOPHERS WIN
1. The power play has to be better than it was against BU. Yes, the Gophers got two power play goals, but they only had eight shots on eight power plays. That's not good. You don't necessarily have to score on power plays, but you need to get some momentum, put some pressure on the other goalie.
2. Find a hero. Nico Sacchetti (four goals), Seth Helgeson (five) and Jake Parenteau (two) all scored goals against BU. The Gophers are at their best when everyone is contributing. Getting goals from unlikely sources helps. My pick to get a goal today is Travis Boyd. Why? He is the most unlikeliest choice. Boyd has none, but he is centering the third line with two good wings. Why not today?
3. Stay out of the box. The Gophers have done a great job in most of their games against the Sioux in holding their shot totals -- and goals -- way down. UND is not nearly as strong offensively as last season when Sioux had Frattin, Gregoire and Genoway. So unless the Gophers give them a lot of power plays, they might be able to hold them to two, three goals. Enough to win.
Gophers have more talent on their roster, Sioux have more grit. So who wins? Today talent does, with media's help. Gophers are sick and tired about being asked about their collapse against UND in Final Five. A win over the Fighting Sioux would erase that bad memory.
Boston University's lineup for Gophers:
1st line: #18 Wade Megan -- #12 Chris Connolly -- #9 Alex Chiasson ... Connolly is team captain, played in NCAA tournament as freshman. He has 40 points, Chiasson 44. Connolly is older brother of Jack Connolly, UMD star
2nd line: #17 Matt Nieto -- #28 Sahir Gill -- #26 Evan Rodrigues ... Nieto has 42 points, Gill 31, so this line is a scoring threat
3rd line: #19 Justin Courtnall -- #23 Cason Hohmann -- #15 Ryan Santana ... seven goals combined here.
4th line: #22 Ross Gaudet -- #8 Ben Rosen -- #27 Yasin Cisse ... seven goals on this line, too
#13 Garrett Noonan -- #4 Patrick MacGregor ... MacGregor is a 6-4, 220 sophomore with no goals. You know what he does. Noonan has 16 goals. He is dangerous
#21 Sean Escobedo -- #5 Adam Clendening ... Clendening is team's best overall D-man
#6 Alexx Privitera -- #2 Ryan Ruikka ... Privitera is from Old Tappan, New Jersey, Ruikka played for Jersey of EJHL
Kieran Millan ... four-year starter with 81 career wins.
The Gophers line-up is out -- two hours before the opening faceoff. And, for a change, there is a little to talk about.
Gophers coach Don Lucia has mixed up his third and fourth lines a bit.
Here is a breakdown:
1st line/ #7 Kyle Rau -- #27 Nick Bjugstad -- #24 Zach Budish... Bjugey has been pretty quiet since he was injured at UNO and missed the next game-- one goal, one assist in four games. This would be a good time for him to break out.
2nd line/ #11 Sam Warning -- #19 Erik Haula -- #21 Jake Hansen ... Haula has been Gophers' best players in playoffs. Has 5 goals and 4 assists in last four games
3rd line/ #16 Nate Condon -- #22 Travis Boyd -- #9 Taylor Matson ... Boyd moves up from fourth line while Matson moves from center to right wing ... this is a line with a lot of speed and puck-moving skill
4th line/ #14 Tom Serratore -- #13 Nico Sacchetti -- #17 Seth Ambroz ... this line might not see a lot of ice time today because of all the TV timeouts, but it has three players who like to hit. Ambroz needs to stay away from bad penalties, though
#4 Seth Helgeson -- #12 Justin Holl ... Helgey is runaway leader among D-men in penalties with 31
#10 Ben Marshall -- #20 Mark Alt ... Alt leads D-men in goals with five
#6 Jake Parenteau -- #29 Nate Schmidt ... Best offensive defenseman on Gophers with probably best defensive defenseman
Kent Patterson ... he has an easy goals-against average to remember: 2.22
THREE KEYS TO A GOPHERS' WIN
1. The Gophers need to win the special teams battle. BU's power play has struggled of late, coach Jack Parker said. And the Terriers gave up four power play goals in last game -- one was on an empty-netter, so that's understandable.
2. Play hard from start to finish. Should be understood, but that has been an issue at times for Gophers.
3. Get a rock solid performance from Patterson. He has typically played well this season after rough outings. Last game was rough for him and the Gophers. North Dakota rallied for five goals in third period of the Final Five semifinals last week to beat the U 6-3.
Gophers win 4-3. I like their new third line. Expect Boyd's line to get a goal or two.
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