Top scorer Haula out for Gophers after slash

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2013 - 6:33 AM
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The top-ranked Gophers are preparing for life without leading scorer Erik Haula the next few weeks because of a hand injury.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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Fresh off blowing out powerhouse Boston College and with No. 2 Notre Dame set to come to Mariucci Arena on Tuesday, the top-ranked Gophers are preparing for life without leading scorer Erik Haula the next few weeks.

"It impacts us in every phase," coach Don Lucia said of losing the Gophers' most consistent forward this season. "It impacts the power play, penalty killing. Really, every situation, he's a key guy. But the good thing, it's not something that's going to be two months or three months."

The junior center is considered "week to week" after being slashed across his right hand in the third period Sunday against Boston College. Haula, who has 26 points -- seven more than the next Gopher -- and is plus-7, will likely miss at least the next three games. Lucia hopes to get him back Jan. 18-19 against North Dakota.

Lucia indicated Thursday that junior Nate Condon will move from first-line right wing to second-line center, replacing Haula between Sam Warning and Zach Budish. Condon played center throughout high school and juniors and a little bit his freshman year.

"This will be an easy transition," Lucia said. "Notre Dame's got two [high-end centers] in [Edina's Anders] Lee and [T.J.] Tynan and Nate's speed can help us defend there."

The Gophers may again be without freshman defenseman Mike Reilly against Notre Dame. Lucia is leaning toward giving Reilly, whose U.S. team is playing for a gold medal against Sweden on Saturday in the World Junior Championships, the game off to rest. Reilly returns Sunday night from Ufa, Russia.

"I want to do what's best for our team but also what's best for him," Lucia said.

Forward Mario Lucia, Don's son, is also in Russia but is expected to play for the Irish.

• Nick Bjugstad (six points) was named WCHA's Offensive Player of the Week, and goalie Adam Wilcox (stopped 50 of 51 shots) the Rookie of the Week after the Gophers won the Mariucci Classic.

  • GOPHERS MEN'S HOCKEY 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. Notre Dame • TV: FSN Plus (1500-AM)

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