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.
Gophers coach Don Lucia was pleased with his re-juggled defensive pairs.
Freshman Ben Marshall was out of the lineup Friday because of an injury, replaced by another freshman, 20-year-old Blake Thompson.
That move led to a couple others. The end results was Nate Schmidt, Mark Alt and Jake Parenteau all were playing with new partners.
Even so the Gophers won 3-2 over Nebraska Omaha in overtime. The Mavericks had only 24 shots on goal -- or about 10 under their average of 34.4.
“Blake Thompson did a nice job," Lucia said. "I thought all the D was sharp [Friday] night as far as playing with new partners and mixing and matching. Mike [associate head coach Mike Guentel did a great job with that.
"Blake was steady. He was physical and he made good decisions with the puck all night long.
“We kept their shots down and kept a lot of it to the outside.”
Thompson's line: no shots, plus-1 and, really important, zero penalties in his fourth game as a Gopher. He had six penalties in his first three games for 23 minutes.
The Gophers did have a few breakdowns. Lucia talked about one of them: “Their shorthanded goal was just the result of a pass that bounced off our stick, and right to them. And away they came on a two-on-one. They had seven shorties coming in and they have some dangerous players that they use. And we don’t have Ben Marshall, who has been there all year.
“[We] had some good looks, too. Their goaltender made some real big saves there in the second period on [Jake] Hansen and [Nick] Bjugstad. We had some really good looks on the power play. But he made the saves.”
Ryan Massa had 29 saves for UNO.
The Gophers' lineup:
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Bjugey credited Budish for screening the goalie on his 23rd goal of the season ... Bjugey had four shots on goal
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Both Haula and Hansen had several Grade A scoring chances on Friday
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Nico Sacchetti .... Condon had a team-high five shots on goal and key assist on winning goal
4th line/ Joe Miller-Travis Boyd-Seth Ambroz ... Miller replaces Tom Serratore in lineup
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Holl had three shots on net
Nate Schmidt-Mark Alt ... Alt was the only plus-2 player in Gophers' lineup
Jake Parenteau-Blake Thompson ... Wonder if Parenteau has come down from his emotional high after OT goal?
Kent Patterson ... his goals-against average down to 2.09
THREE KEYS TO U WIN
1. Shoot the puck. How many times did a Gopher play with a chance to shoot pass it up and pass instead. And usually the shot was bit off, got blocked or the recipient shot wide. Lots of missed chances. Gophers need to put more sustained pressure on a good goalie
2. Keep taking goalie's eyes away. On two of the Gophers' goals, there was traffic in front. Massa was screened and either didn't see the puck or saw it too late. If he sees it, Massa is tough.
3. Figure out the power play. It looked awful at time. Five shots on four power plays and what's worse, short-handed chances for UNO. Did you see the three-on-one UNO had short-handed late in the second period? Gophers can do better. They must in the playoffs.
Freshman defenseman Ben Marshall was hurt last Saturday against Bemidji State and didn't finish the game. His status for this game was in doubt.
And now it's certain. He won't play this weekend. He didn't make the trip to Omaha. In his place in the lineup is freshman D-man Blake Thompson who has played only three games. Marshall had played every game, or 33 total.
Thompson is an older freshman. He is 20. He played two years for Waterloo of USHL after high school hockey at Eden Prairie. He had two assists in Gophers' season opponent, then sat until 5-4 loss to Vermont on Oct. 23. Only other game he played in was in a 6-2 win over Michigan Tech on Dec. 10.
He is being paired with Jake Parenteau, probably team's best defensive D-man.
Nate Schmidt, who usually skates with Parenteau, is with Mark Alt in place of Marshall. So two of the Gophers' defensive pairs are different. Wonder how concerned Gophers coaches are about those switches against a team that like to pepper goalies with shots.
Dean Blais said he is hoping Mavs get at least 25-30 shots a game this weekend.
The Gophers' lines:
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Top line had three goals and three assists last Friday against Beavers
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Second line carried Gophers on Sat., with three goals vs. BSU
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Nico Sacchetti ... Some Gophers fans probably look forward to U going on penalty kill just to see Condon and Matson on the kill. Condon has four shorties
4th line/ Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Seth Ambroz ... Sort of a homecoming for Ambroz, he played three season with Omaha Lancers of USHL while brother Matt played for UNO
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Helgeson played in his 100th game as Gopher last Sat.
Nate Schmidt-Mark Alt ... new combination; Schmidt is more offensive like Marshall was
Jake Parenteau-Blake Thompson ... Blake has probably heard a lot this week about staying out of the box
Kent Patterson ... making his 55th start in a row. Mr. Steady for Gophers
Terry Broadhurst-Jayson Megna-Matt White ... Goal total for them are 16, 11, 16. Gotta watch 'em
Ryan Walters-Brock Montpetit-Josh Archibald ... Walters is from Rosemount, Archibald from Brainerd
Dominic Zombo-Brent Gwidt-Brian O'Rourke ... Six goals combined ... can't let them score
James Polk-Joe Krause-Zahn Raubenheimer ... One goal combined
Comments: This is a two-line team when it comes to scoring. Big dropoff to two lower lines; only one forward over 6-2
Michael Young- Andrej Sustr ... Young is 6-4, 210; Sustr is 6-8, 218 ... Yikes
Jaycob Megna-Bryce Aneloski ... Megna is 6-6, Aneloski 6-2. Both weigh 200.
Matt Smith-Kyle Ensign ... Ensign has played 101 games and is still looking for first goal
Ryan Massa ... 2.34 goals-against average, .922 save pct. He's freshman from Littleton, Colo.
Gophers coach Don Lucia liked what he saw Friday in his team's 3-0 whitewash of Bemidji State. So he is sticking with the same lineup. If you are a fan of the team, you should know what it is. Eleven of the 19 players in the lineup have played every game, including five of the defensemen and goalie Kent Patterson.
1st line/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... this line was impressive on Friday with three goals and three assists. Budish had two of the goals, Bjguey one.
2nd line/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... would be nice if this trio chipped in with a few more points to ease whatever burden the top line feels. Haula had assist on Friday on power play playing with Bjugey, Rau and Hansen.
3rd line/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Nico Sacchetti ... Condon and Matson, team's two best penalty killer had a night off from that duty. Gophers did not commit a penalty for first time this season
4th line/ Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Seth Ambroz ... Serratore was one of the players that Lucia singled out for playing well after Friday
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... helped keep Beavers well away from Gophers net on Friday, 13 shots total
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt ... Both had one assist on Friday and were plus-2
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt ... Parenteau named third star of Friday's game with two shots, two blocks, one big hit
Kent Patterson ... got seventh shutout on Friday, has one more than any other goalie in D-I puck
THREE KEYS TO WIN
1. Play smart. Just like Friday. It's not likely Gophers will go through a whole weekend without a penalty, but they need to avoid them at bad -- like in the last minutes of a game (remember Denver last Saturday)
2. Get another line going besides the first line ... Lucia says the Gophers are at their best when everyone is contributing. Friday was pretty much a first line how on offense. That trio had 15 shots -- or two more than the Beavers
3. Guard against overconfidence. The Beavers will be better. Count on it. Come to the game expecting a tough game. A lot of hockey is mental. The Gophers need a sweep. And should get it because they are the better team but ... funny things happen in college hockey.
SAME BEAVERS IN LINEUP
Tom Serratore also is gong with the same lineup.
1st line/ Ben Kinne-Aaron McLeod-Jordan George ... George is the Beavers' most dangerous forward with 15 goals
2nd line/ Brance Orban-Shea Walters-David Boehm ... Walters is from Hibbing, playing with a player from Alberta and Florida
3rd line/ Jamie MacQueen-Jeff Jubinville-Danny Matson ... Matson is from Minneapolis
4th line/ Tyler Tosunian-Drew Fisher-Darcy Findlay ... Fisher is an ex-Gopher
Brad Hunt-Matt Prapavessis
Jake Areshenko-Sam Windle
Matt Carlson-Kyle Brodie
Dan Bakala ... assuming he will start again tonight
Gophers coach Don Lucia blew up his forward lines last Saturday for the second game in Denver. It almost worked. The Gophers lost 4-3 in overtime.
But back home at Mariucci, to face Bemidji State on Friday, he is back to basically the four lines he has used almost all of the season.
1st/ Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish. ... Rau missed last Saturday's game because he was suspended. Bjugey still leads the team with 21 goals but has only one in the past five games. Budish had a "dirty" goal from near the blue paint in Denver.
2nd/ Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen. ... Haula played left wing either on the first or second line last weekend because he was a little banged up. He's better now and back at his normal spot. Warning provides speed, Hansen grit on the other wing.
3rd/ Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Nico Sacchetti ... Condon and Matson are team's two best penalty killers, Lucia says, and now that they are on same line again, can go out on a kill together. That's a plus. Sacchetti's recent play has earned him a spot in the lineup. He has played only 12 games.
4th/ Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Seth Ambroz. ... Serratore will play against his uncle, the BSU coach. Boyd was left home on the road trip to DU. Lucia said he was missed as a penalty killer. Ambroz has usually played on third line this season but he hasn't been scoring. He has only four goals and three assists.
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl. ... Holl took a late penalty last Saturday and DU tied the game on the ensuing power play in the last two minutes
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt. ... Both have played 31 games as have three of the other four starting D-men
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt. ... Schmidt has fallen off his point per game pace; he has 28 points in 31 games. Maybe he can have a big weekend against BSU. Trouble is Beavers have top penalty kill in WCHA and Schmidt's gets most of his points on the pp
Kent Patterson. .... Had an off game last Friday, when Gophers lost 5-3 to Pioneers. Winning goal by Jason Zucker came from the goal line extended, a real tough angle. Still has solid 2.20 goals-against average
THREE KEYS TO BEATING BSU
1. Gophers need to play with intensity -- from the start -- and throughout the game. Last Friday, they played well the first 10 minutes, which is what the coaches preach, then looked pretty sorry the next 10 minutes of the opening period. DU pelted Kent Patterson with 19 shots and led 3-1 after the first 20 minutes.
2. Get the top line going. Nick Bjugstad had three of his eight goals against Bemidji State on the last weekend of the regular season a year ago. He has 21 goals this season, but only one in his past five games. Time for him and Rau to break out for him. Rau has been pretty quiet lately, too.
3. Patterson has to be sharp. Kent is going up against Dan Bakala, the defensive player of the week in the WCHA. Bakala has been real good for the Beavers lately. Patterson has to match him save for save, give the Gophers a chance. BSU has the top PK in the league, so it's unlikely the Gophers will score a lot of goals.
Three keys to the Gophers beating St. Cloud State:
1. Hit the net instead of posts. Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon all hit posts on Friday in the Gophers' 2-1 win over SCSU at Mariucci. Rau in the first period, Bjugstad in the second and Condon in the third.
It really should not have been a 2-1 game. The Gophers outshot the Huskies 2-1, or 26-13.
Condon acted the most upset with his shot off the post. It came in the last two minutes on a short-handed rush. He has four shorties already. Five would have tied him for the national lead.
2. Watch that top St. Cloud State line. Both snipers from Little Falls are on the same line for SCSU tonight, Ben Hanowski and Jared Festler. They are dangerous along, together they could give the Gophers trouble.
3. Don't fall behind. The Gophers fell behind 4-1 on Nov. 18 in their first visit to the Granite City and lost 4-3 despite two goals in the last five minutes. The U seems to play much better with a lead. And on Saturdays they are 9-0-0 in WCHA play.
Referees: Peter Friesma, No. 10, and Butch Mousseaux, No. 12
Linesmen: Tony Czech, No. 80, Jeff Schultz, No. 55
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