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.

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Gophers should remember split with Vermont last fall

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey, Gophers Updated: November 20, 2012 - 11:23 AM

It's Vermont weekend. Time to get the game faces on at Mariucci.

The Gophers and Vermont split two very different games at Mariucci last season. The Catamounts looked helpless on Friday night and were drubbed 6-0 the first night.

Then, after a day off because of a football conflict at TCF Stadium, Vermont had extra time to simmer and stew and came out and beat the Gophers 5-4 on Sunday afternoon.

That's why you don't bet on college hockey.

In the first game on Oct. 21, the Gophers' top line dominated. Nick Bjugstad had two goals and Kyle Rau and Zach Budish one apiece. Vermont had just 17 shots on goal as the Gophers went to 5-0-0. It was the first meeting ever between the two teams.

So what changed Sunday? The Gophers led 3-1 early in the second period, but Vermont took a 4-3 lead with three goals, two on power plays, in the last five minutes of the second period.

The Gophers took some bad penalties, which changed the game, Gophers coach Don Lucia said at the time. Minnesota committed 11 minor penalties.

The U has played three non-conference games -- two with Michigan State, one with Canisius -- and has five nonconference games left, two with Vermont, one with Air Force and Boston College in the Mariucci Classic and one with Notre Dame.

They are 3-0 so far against non-league teams. The Gophers were only .500 in nonconference games last season (4-4-1), Lucia said during his weekly radio show on Monday, which put a lot of pressure on the Gophers to win WCHA games late last season because of how those non-conference losses hurt the U in the PairWise ratings.

Late last season the Gophers were leading the WCHA but still a bubble team to get into the NCAA tournament.

While most college hockey ratings are meaningless, to borrow a thought from colleague Mike Russo, the PairWise are anything but. The NCAA, without openly saying so, uses the same guidelines the PariWise ratings use to picks its at-large teams for the NCAA tournament.

So it behooves the Gophers to keep winning in Vermont. It's the last weak nonconference opponent the Gophers have.

Air Force has been a power in Atlantic Hockey in recent years.

Boston College? "Everybody has been chasing BC the last 10 years, they have just been on phenomenal run," Lucia said. "Notre Dame is leading the CCHA right now."

Vermont played Friday and Sunday this past weekend -- losing to Boston University 6-2, beating Northeastn 3-2 -- and has a game Tuesday at UMass. So when Vermont (2-4-2, all in Hockey East) plays the Gophers, it will be be five games in nine days for the Catamounts.

Chris McCarthy had two goals for Vermont against Northeastern and goalie Brody Hoffman made 33 stops.

The Gophers will be able to take all their players on the road trip to Vermont. In WCHA, traveling parties are limited to 22 players. Lucia said it is hard to leave some players behind for conference series.


Lucia said he expected low-scoring games with Wisconsin -- and the series turned out that way. The teams tied 2-2 on Friday, the Gophers won 3-1 Saturday with an empty-netter at the end.

He said the Gophers moved the puck better the second night, played well defensively and goalie Adam Wilcox was terrific at times.

"We've just got to figure out a way to score to score one more goal a game, five on five," Lucia said. "When we can start to do that, we can take a big step as a group."

* Lucia said Wilcox is playing even better than he expected. He said Wilcox is patient, athletic and competitive.

* There will be a few Thursday-Friday and Sunday-Monday series in the Big Ten Conference because the Big Ten Network is looking for live programming, Lucia said, "but nothing has been decided."

* Lucia said the ideal would be to have two more hockey schools in the Big Ten Conference "so we could have an eight-team league and have more conference games." The Big Ten, when it debuts in 2013-14, will have six schools and everyone will play 20 conference games.

Neither of the two schools joining the Big Ten in the near future, Maryland and Rutgers, have hockey programs.

* Lucia's weekly show has moved to the Beacon Restaurant at the Commons Hotel on campus.

* Injury update: Second line left wing Sam Warning took part in some of Monday's practice. Lucia said the hope is Warning will be ready to play against Nebraska Omaha at Mariucci in a week and a half. ... Backup goalie Mike Shibrowski should be able to return to practice after the Christmas break.

* Lucia said he would like to see players like forwards Christian Isackson and Nate Condon score more goals.


"The scoring that [the Pioneers] are doing, that's what I am surprised at," Lucia said. "When you look at the losses they had off of last year's team, the big question mark was who was going to do the scoring? Everybody seems to be scoring for them.

"They are the highest scoring team in our league. They have got outstanding goaltending. And a very good defensive corps."

Denver is a league-leading 7-1-0 for 14 points. In second are the Gophers, the defending MacNaughton Cup champions at 4-2-2 for 10. Nebraska Omaha, whom the Gophers play in two weeks, is alone in third at 4-1-1 for 9 points.

But when looking at early-season standings, the key is how tough of a schedule have teams played.

Denver has not played a real tough schedule. It's four opponents are 12-12-0. But that's arduous compared to the Gophers' foes. They are 5-15-4.

Minnesota has played two teams tied for 10th in the WCHA  (Minnesota State Mankato and Alaska Anchorage), one in eighth (Wisconsin) and one in seventh (Michigan Tech). Nobody in the top half of the conference.

Let's look at one more team, Nebraska Omaha. The red Mavericks have only played six conference games -- two fewer than most teams -- and their WCHA opponents are 4-13-3. The tough part of their schedule is ahead, too.

Here is a look at the record and winning percentages of the opponents of the top six WCHA teams:

St. Cloud St.     11-7-2            .600

Colorado Col.    9-8-3            .525 

Denver              12-12-0         .500

North Dakota      4-8-4          .375

Neb Omaha       4-13-3         .275 

Gophers             5-15-4         .272


Visiting teams still are winning more games than homes teams in WCHA games this season. Last weekend, it came out a draw 3-3-2. But overall, visitors have a two-game edge, 18-16-8.

                                    Vis.   Home Ties

Week 2 of season:   1   -     1    -    0    (Gophers at Michigan Tech)

Week 3                        2   -    5    -    3    (Three ties prompt shootout talk)    

Week 4                        6   -    2    -    0    (Road sweeps by CC and UNO)

Week 5                        4   -     5   -    1    (One road sweep, by Denver at MSU Mankato)

Week 6                        2         0         2

Week 7                        3         3         2  (Five overtime games, but in three somebody scores)

Totals                         18   -  16   -    8




Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 98 4th Qtr 1:43
Boston 99
Philadelphia 66 4th Qtr 10:06
Indiana 77
Portland 87 4th Qtr 10:36
Sacramento 78
Charlotte 80 4th Qtr 6:12
Orlando 70
Oklahoma City 72 3rd Qtr 5:48
LA Lakers 61
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 2nd Prd
Washington 1
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 59 2nd Half 5:45
Wake Forest 53
Oregon 36 2nd Half
Stanford 30
Purdue 14 1st Half 7:56
Ohio State 17
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Washington St 8:30 PM
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
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