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.
The Gophers have one lineup change for the second game of their best-of-three, first-round series with Alaska Anchorage.
Senior Nick Larson is playing left wing on the fourth line, replacing Tom Serratore.
Otherwise, it's the same lineup:
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Bjugey had seven shots on goal Friday
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Haula has three goals in his last two games ... all three linemates were a plus-2
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Ambroz took an interference penalty which led to UAA's goal on a power play late in the second period
4th line/ Nick Larson-Travis Boyd-Nico Sacchetti ... Larson gives the coaches another strong penalty killer; the Gophers had to kill off seven penalties on Friday
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Holl blocked three shots on Friday
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt ... Alt had a game-high four blocked shots
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt ... Schmidt has his 31st and 32nd assists of the season on Haula's goals. His 32 assists are the most by a Gophers D-man since Chris Harrington had 33 in 2006-06
Kent Patterson ... Will start his 60th game in a row over two seasons
THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Stay out of the penalty box ... The only time Alaska Anchorage looked dangerous was on the power play. They had seven power plays and had eight shots during 9 minutes and 28 seconds of a man-advantage. In the other 50:32, they had nine shots.
2. Score first. ... The Gophers seem much more comfortable playing with the lead. And if they get ahead, UAA eventually will have to be more aggressive on offense, rather than just sit back.
3. Get the first line going. ... Nick Bjugstad had seven shots on goal, Zach Budish five and Kyle Rau two. If they keep shooting, the goals should come.
Nick Bjugstad is healthy and so is everyone else. So the Gophers are going with their usual lineup against Alaska Anchorage tonight. This is the first game of their best-of-three WCHA first round series.
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Bjugey was named to the all-WCHA first team on Thursday, Rau to the all-rookie team. Will they play like award winners?
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Haula scored a big shorthanded goal last Friday. If the second line can score tonight, it would help a lot
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Lot of speed with Condon and Matson, maybe they can get a breakaway or two?
4th line/ Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Nico Sacchetti ... Boyd replaces senior Joey Miller who played last Saturday
1st/ Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl
2nd/ Ben Marshall-Mark Alt
3rd/ Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt
Goalie/ Kent Patterson ... He will make his 59th start in a row. Said sitting out a period last Friday was good for him to get a different perspective
THREE KEYS TO WIN
1. Score first ... Alaska Anchorage tries to stay back, wait for mistakes that opponents make. If the Gophers get a lead, it might force the Seawolves to change their style
2. Shoot, shoot ... Enough of the fancy passing on the perimeter already. The two UAA goalies have the worst two save percentages in the league. Put as much rubber on them as possible.
3. Be aggressive, force UAA to commit some penalties. ... The Gophers power play is at 23.1 percent, UAA's penalty kill is at 80.6 percent. Gotta like that matchup.
After missing his first Gophers game of the season because of an injury, Nick Bjugstad is back in the Gophers' lineup in his familiar spot. He is centering the first line, skating in between Kyle Rau and Zach Budish.
Freshman Travis Boyd, meantime, goes from first line center to the bench. Quite the demotion.
The other new player in the lineup for the Gophers is Joe Miller, a senior right wing. He is also an assistant captain. he has played only nine game this season and had one goal. But this is Senior Night and Miller plays with energy, something the Gophers had a shortage of on Friday.
Miller replaces freshman Seth Ambroz who is out.
The Gophers' lineup:
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Remember one play from Friday vividly. Boyd and Budish were on a rush and got their timing a little confused. Offsides was called. Budish looked visibly perturbed. Of course, he never plays with Boyd. So the fact they were not in sync was understandable.
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Hansen said the forwards were awful after Friday's game. He took the lost hard, promised a better effort by everyone
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Nico Sacchetti ... Sacchetti scored the only Gophers goal on Friday, on a nice redirect of a point shot by D-man Jake Parenteau. It came with just over a minute left. Too late.
4th line/ Tom Serratore-Nick Larson-Joe Miller ... Second game back for Larson after being out six weeks with a broken wrist. Should be sharper.
1st/ Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Helgeson got posterized by Wisconsin's Mark Zengerle who turned him inside out on his power play goal.
2nd/ Ben Marshall-Mark Alt ... Alt was a minus-2 on Friday
3rd/ Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt ... Schmidt had only one chance to run the power play on Friday. Gophers need more pp chances than that
Kent Patterson ... Patterson will start his 58 consecutive game. Only two Gophers goalies have started more game in a row. He should catch Robb Stauber -- 61 starts in a row -- in the playoffs
THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Be much more aggressive. Not with hits, with rushes to the net. The Gophers need to force the Badgers to commit more penalties. Their penalty kill is the worst in the WCHA, just over 75 percent, but the Gophers only saw it for two minute son Friday.
2. Shadow No. 9. Please know where he is on the ice. Sophomore center Mark Zengerle had a four-point night against the Gophers: three assists and one goal. His linemates, Tyler Barnes and Ryan Little, also had a goal. That line has to be stopped or at least slowed down.
3. Play with confidence. If the Badgers score first, retaliate. Don't fall behind 2-0, 3-0 and 4-0 and let the game slip away. The Gophers have more talent. They need to match the Badgers' intensity and not get discouraged.
The Gophers are not talking about the MacNaughton Cup, but it is there for them. All they have to do is win at least one game against the Badgers at Mariucci. Wisconsin is having a down season, sitting at .500 with a 15-15-2 overall record.
On the road, the Badgers are 3-8-1 with two of those winning coming last weekend when they swept Bemidji State 4-2, 4-2. This weekend ... GOPHERS WIN AND TIE
Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State: The Bulldogs are on the Gophers' heels, two points back. So the Gophers wouldn't mind if the Huskies got a few points this weekend. SCSU is coming off a split with Michigan Tech. UMD swept Colorado College last weekend and have a five-game unbeaten streak. ... BULLDOGS WIN AND TIE
Denver at Nebraska Omaha: Denver swept the Gophers three weekends ago in the Mile High City, the Gophers swept UNO last weekend. So using the Gophers as a barometer, DU is the better team. That said, the Mavs hardly ever get swept at home and it's hard to image it will happen to them in back-to-back weekends. SPLIT
Minnesota State at North Dakota: The Fighting Sioux are playing well and have put themselves in a position to get an at-large NCAA tournament bid if they keep winning and they will this weekend. ... SIOUX SWEEP
Michigan Tech at Colorado College: Huge series for these two teams. Tech still has a chance for home ice for the first round of the playoffs and has 26 points. CC is tied for fifth with UNO with 27 points and obviously catchable for Tech. ... SPLIT
Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage: UAA has locked up 12th place while the Beavers are only one point behind ninth-place Wisconsin so it is a bigger series for them. ... SPLIT
THREE KEYS FOR GOPHERS
1. Get some production from second or third line. With Bjugstad out, somebody has to pick up the scoring. Both the second and third lines are intact. What better time for someone out of those six to get a goal or two?
2. Be aggressive, go to the net, draw penalties. The Badgers have the worst penalty kill in the league at 75.8 percent. The Gophers need to score a couple power play goals.
3. Get a lead. Like most college teams, the Gophers play better when in front. So they need to come out with some fire and jump. No reason not to. The Cup is in town. It's Senior Night on Saturday. They are playing against one of their big rivals.
The Gophers have been remarkably injury-free this season.
But tonight, Nick Bjugstad is out of the lineup because of an injury he suffered last Saturday against Nebraska Omaha. One of the Mavs big defenseman crushed him against the boards in the second period and got a two-minute boarding penalty.
The Gophers have been hush-hush about what the injury is. But as late as this morning, the Gophers still thought Bjugstad might play. Coach Don Lucia told fans at the Blue Line Club luncheon Bjugey's status depending on how Friday's morning skate went.
The good news for the Gophers is the return of two other injured players. Freshman Ben Marshall is back on defense, paired with Mark Alt as usual, after missing the Nebraska Omaha series.
Nick Larson is back in the lineup at forward, on the fourth line. He has been out since mid-January because of a broken wrist suffered at North Dakota.
The Gophers' lineup:
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Travis Boyd-Zach Budish ... Boyd has big shoes to fill figuratively and literally. At 5-10, he is seven inches shorter than Bjugey. But biggest difference between two is he has zero goals and Bjugey has 23. So why is Boyd on first line? Lucia didn't want to break up his second and third lines, it seems.
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Warning had big goal in first game of UNO series last weekend.
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Ambroz is back up from fourth line last weekend.
4th line/ Tom Serratore-Nico Sacchetti-Nick Larson ... Larson gives the Gophers another good penalty killer
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Helgeson and Alt lead D-men in hits
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt ... Alt had nice goal on backhander in second game lats weekend
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt ... Schmidt keeps the puck moving on the power play
Kent Patterson ... this will be Kent's 36th start this season and 57th in a row going back to last season
FOUR MINNESOTANS IN UW LINEUP
The Badgers have four Minnesotans in their lineup tonight, three are forwards:
* Tyler Barnes, No. 7, is right wing on first line and has eight goals and 23 points. He is a sophomore from Eagan.
* Joe LaBate, No. 16, is left wing on third line. The 6-4 freshman played for Holy Angels last season. He has five goals and 20 points.
* Jason Clark, No. 17, is right wing on fourth line. He had one assist in 19 games. He is a sophomore from Eden Prairie.
* Joe Faust, No. 24, plays on third pair of D-men. He has two goals and three assists.
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