Haula's scoring touch returns

The Gophers sophomore from Finland has been the team's best player since the postseason began.


Gophers forward Erik Haula has five goals and four assists in his past four games.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune file

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Erik Haula started this hockey season hotter than any player in the country.

Now the Gophers sophomore center is heating up again at the best time -- leading into the NCAA tournament, with the Gophers set to play Boston University on Saturday in the West Regional semifinals at Xcel Energy Center.

Haula has five goals and four assists in his past four games, starting with the last game of the regular season.

"At times, [Haula] doesn't get the attention of Nick [Bjugstad] or some of the other guys," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "Without question, he has been our best player in the playoffs."

Bjugstad, a first-line center who leads the Gophers with 24 goals, was named to the All-WCHA first team. Defenseman Nate Schmidt, the team's assist leader with 35, made the all-conference second team and forward Kyle Rau made the all-rookie team.

Haula? The Gophers nominated him for All-WCHA consideration. The center of the second line was overlooked.

All Haula has done recently is score big goals. His shorthanded goal in the third period against Wisconsin inspired a 2-1 comeback victory in the regular-season finale, which clinched an outright MacNaughton Cup championship. In the first round of the WCHA playoffs, he had two goals each game as the Gophers swept Alaska Anchorage. Even in the 6-3 loss to North Dakota in the Final Five semifinals last week, he had two assists.

"Erik has been awesome," Bjugstad said.

"I have gotten some good looks lately," said Haula, a seventh-round pick of the Wild in 2009, "and they have been going in fortunately. It has definitely helped my confidence."

Haula is second on the Gophers in both goals with 19 and assists with 27.

"I am really excited to play" in the NCAA tournament, said the 5-11, 187-pound forward from Pori, Finland. "We are going to have the same crowd we had last weekend. Unfortunately, we lost to North Dakota. After playing so well the first half, we had an absolute collapse the second half. It was embarrassing."

The Gophers had a 3-0 lead and were badly outshooting UND for 30 minutes, but the Fighting Sioux dominated after that. Several other Gophers said they never had played in a game that turned around so decisively.

Haula had. In the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Junior Championships, Finland, Haula's team, was leading Russia 3-1 with five minutes left. Russia tied the score and won in overtime. He said he had a flashback to Finland's loss when North Dakota rallied.

"I don't want it to happen ever again," he said. "As leaders we've got to be able to take a punch and give one back. Like Coach [Lucia] said, 'You just have to learn from that.'"

Opponents quickly learned to be careful of Haula. He had seven goals and 10 assists in the first seven games this season to become the first Gophers player with 17 points in a month since Thomas Vanek in November of 2002. Vanek, from Austria, was the Gophers' first player from Europe.

Haula has four game-winners and when he gets at least one point, the Gophers are 19-5-1.

His father, Tomi, owns a vacation condo in Tampa, Fla., which happens to be the site of Frozen Four on April 5 and 7. Haula's father plans to fly to Tampa if the Gophers are there. But his son won't want talk about the Frozen Four or even a possible rematch with North Dakota on Sunday.

"If we don't win Saturday, the season is over," Haula said. "We are all focused on Boston University. It is going to be the toughest game this year so far."

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 6:00 PM
Orlando 6:00 PM
Memphis 6:30 PM
Indiana 7:00 PM
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
New York 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 0 1st Prd 19:29
Buffalo 0
Detroit 6:00 PM
Carolina 0 1st Prd 20:00
Tampa Bay 0
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 20:00
NY Rangers 0
Boston 0 1st Prd 19:11
Columbus 0
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Washington 6:30 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Chicago 8:00 PM
Edmonton 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 43 2nd Half
BYU 43
Mercer 25 2nd Half 17:06
Georgia 37
San Francisco 34 2nd Half 19:48
Pacific 37
Wright State 0 1st Half 18:22
Ohio State 5
Presbyterian 0 1st Half 20:00
Virginia Tech 0
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 20 3rd Qtr 2:12
Penn State 7
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 59 2nd Half 0:33
Santa Clara 58
San Diego 7:00 PM
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Gophers Football 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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




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