When the end is near, U hockey comes to life

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2011 - 7:01 AM

Third-period success is a constant for the U men's hockey team, and theories range from goaltending to fitness to determination.


All three of Tom Serratore's goals this season, like this one against North Dakota, have come in the third period.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

In his autobiography, Mark Twain restated a point -- "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Twain was a smart fellow, and he was right: Statistics can be manipulated. But sometimes they simply make a point. Take this numerical nugget from the world of men's college hockey: The Gophers have outscored their opponents 24-4 in the third period this season. That's domination. And it cries for an explanation.

Whom better to ask than Gophers coach Don Lucia? After four mediocre seasons, his Gophers are 11-3 and ranked No. 2 in one national poll and No. 3 in the other going into a nonconference series at Michigan State this weekend.

Good luck to the Spartans if they are trailing going into the final period. The Gophers are 10-0 when ahead or tied after two periods. Only Minnesota Duluth (two goals in one game, one in another) and Vermont (one goal) have scored on the Gophers in the third period.

Lucia offered several reasons for the Gophers' late-game success:

1. Goalie Kent Patterson

He has a 0.86 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage in third periods this season. His teammates block shots, clog passing lanes and limit opponents to an average of 9.3 shots the final period.

Patterson got his sixth shutout, a program record, in the Gophers' 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State in their last game. "Honestly, it was awesome," captain Taylor Matson said. "With about 10 minutes left, we were all playing for Kent. We didn't need any more goals."

2. Improved conditioning

"We probably did as much skating or more than we ever had," Lucia said. "And we have not let up on that at all."

Said sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt: "I really don't see a dropoff in our physical play or in our forecheck in the third period. Usually you have guys in the third period -- they run out gas. Our team doesn't face that problem as much."

3. Team depth

The Gophers play four lines and three pairs of defensemen throughout most games. "We haven't shortened the bench very much," Lucia said. "And we have had multiple guys involved in the penalty kill."

He said his third and fourth lines most nights have outplayed the bottom lines of the opponents. "We have scored some big goals as a result," he said.

Nick Bjugstad, Gophers first-line center who is tied for the NCAA scoring lead, has nine of his 21 points, including four goals, in the third period. Fourth-line winger Tom Serratore has all three of his goals in the final period.

The Gophers have scored at least one goal in the final period of every game except their 6-0 rout of Vermont.

4. Mental toughness

Cal Dietz, the team's strength and conditioning coach, suggested this final rationale.

"In my library, we've researched mental toughness," Dietz said, "and it seems there is one way to truly make [athletes] and that is to put somebody through pain and agony."

Dietz, who works with nine Gophers teams, said Matson is off the charts in toughness. "I have never seen anybody being able to block [pain] out and keep going like him," said Dietz, in his 11th season with the hockey team. "We have kids like Nick Bjugstad doing whatever Taylor Matson does."

Or at least trying.

One of the most grueling tasks for Gophers hockey players is called "Four Corners." It involves running up and down the stairs in every corner of Mariucci Arena as fast as possible. Last spring Matson did it in 2 minutes, 10 seconds. He broke Kris Chucko's record set about six years ago by 15 seconds -- then spent 17 minutes on the floor recovering.

"[Taylor] never quits," said freshman winger Kyle Rau, who has scored five of his nine goals in the third period. "He is relentless. He is something else."

So are the Gophers when the final period begins.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
UNLV 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
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




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question