U hockey ready to turn page

  • Article by: CHRIS MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2011 - 1:28 AM

And what a way to start the WCHA season: The Gophers play the national champion Bulldogs on Oct. 14-15 in Duluth.

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Gophers goalie Kent Patterson

Photo: Levison, Marlin, Star Tribune file

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Scoring. Grit.

Players on Thursday discussed with a sense of determination the keys to improvement for the Gophers men's hockey team. Last year's squad was dumped from the WCHA playoffs by upstart Alaska Anchorage at Mariucci Arena and missed the NCAA tournament for the third season in a row.

"We have a lot of guys with scoring capabilities," said goalie Kent Patterson. "You can single out a few guys who will step it up, but the good thing is there are a lot of them."

Coach Don Lucia talked about the increased strength of his returning defensemen and his already good-sized freshmen, saying, "Those guys will be able to eliminate people in our own zone, rather than just contain them."

The Gophers open with an exhibition game against British Columbia on Sunday night, play host to a nonconference series against Sacred Heart the following weekend and begin WCHA play at NCAA champion UMD on Oct. 14-15.

Who will score?

The top three goal scorers graduated off a 16-14-6 team that finished fifth in the conference.

"A guy like Nick Bjugstad, who had a great second half, is a goal-scorer, and Jake Hansen can score 15 to 20 goals, along with Taylor Matson,'' said sophomore winger Zach Budish, who returns after redshirting because of a knee injury.

Lucia said his top two lines will be centered by sophomores Bjugstad and Erik Haula, and indicated Patterson likely would play most games in goal.

The coach singled out sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt as a player who has been impressive in practice, and said freshman Kyle Rau of Class 2A state champion Eden Prairie will move to wing from center and be among the team's top forwards.

Eighteen of 27 players are true sophomores or freshmen.

"The young guys have to grow up in a real hurry," Lucia said, "and the senior class has to have a real good year, because we really only have one junior [defenseman Seth Helgeson]."

The Gophers missed the WCHA Final Five and NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center last season, adding to fan unrest.

"It's disappointing, because you want to be a team fighting nationally at the end," Lucia said.

Etc.

• The Gophers were picked sixth in the preseason WCHA coaches poll, behind Denver, North Dakota, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth. The preseason player of the year is CC forward Jaden Schwartz, and the preseason rookie of the year is North Dakota winger Rocco Grimaldi.

• Lucia is in the final season of his contract, but has been offered an extension, which has not yet been signed. Mike Guentzel has returned as an assistant coach, replacing John Hill.

• Matson is team captain, with alternates to be named.

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San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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