U's Warning can score, knows he must shoot even more

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2013 - 11:45 AM

The unselfish Sam Warning has scored four goals in the past five games.

hide

Sam Warning battles for the puck with Irish center Anders Lee.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Sam Warning doesn't like to think of himself as a pass-first player. The Gophers winger prefers to call himself a playmaker, but he agrees that his natural inclination is to be a middleman, one who believes the best route to a goal is usually to put the puck on a teammate's stick.

Don Lucia wants him to fight that urge. The Gophers coach said that if the sophomore takes four or five shots a game, he will be scoring regularly -- giving the nation's top-ranked hockey team even more firepower as it enters a critical part of its schedule. Warning will aim for those shot totals during this weekend's WCHA series against Alaska-Anchorage at Mariucci Arena, fresh off a three-game stretch that has put him on a roll.

In the Gophers' recent nonconference victories over Air Force, Boston College and Notre Dame, Warning tallied two goals and three assists to stitch together his longest point streak of the season. After registering only two assists in the Gophers' first four games -- then sitting out for a month because of a shoulder injury -- he has scored four goals in the past five games.

Warning credits his linemates, right winger Zach Budish and centers Erik Haula and Nate Condon, with helping him get into a groove. It falls on Warning, Lucia said, to make sure it continues.

"Sam is one of those guys we watch in practice, and he's scoring,'' said Lucia, whose team is undefeated in its past six games. "I keep telling him he's got to shoot the puck more, because he's got a good shot, and he doesn't get enough of them. He's very patient with the puck. He's almost in that pass-first, shoot-second mentality, and he's got to change his mentality to be a shooter.''

Warning agrees.

"I definitely need to shoot more,'' he said. "Four to five shots a game is a pretty good goal of mine now, and that's what I've been trying to do lately.''

In 11 games this season, Warning has four goals and six assists, though he has only 13 shots on goal. Lucia has expanded Warning's role this season, using him on the power play and penalty kill as he has seen Warning grow in confidence and consistency.

At 5-9, Warning possesses speed and a solid knowledge of the game. He struggled to maintain an even level of performance as a freshman, tailing off after a hot start. Warning finished the season with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points, the second most among the Gophers' rookies -- but after scoring three goals in his first five games, he went 19 games without one.

Still, he played in 39 of 43 games, gaining experience that made him feel ready for more responsibility as a sophomore. Warning has played with Budish in all of his games this season. Haula centered their line until he injured his hand on Dec. 30 and Condon took over. That stability, Warning said, has helped him become more confident as he works toward Lucia's vision for him.

The coach said Warning has improved his consistency this season, and he noted that his nine-game absence from the lineup left a noticeable void. His play during the recent streak, in which the Gophers defeated then-No. 1 Boston College and No. 2 Notre Dame with Warning contributing a goal and an assist in each game, has him eager to dive back into the WCHA schedule.

While it might never be his instinct to shoot first, he knows the Gophers will benefit if he finds a better balance.

"Sometimes, it can be hard,'' Warning said. "This year, I have a lot more confidence. When the shot's open, I know when to take it; when I don't need to take it, I know when to pass. Over time, you acquire that consistency. That's what I'm trying to do, just work every day to become a better hockey player.''

  • related content

  • Preview: Alaska-Anchorage at Gophers hockey

    Thursday January 10, 2013

    Gophers at a glance: Tuesday's 4-1 victory over No. 2 Notre Dame completed an undefeated nonconference season for the Gophers (14-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA). They went 8-0 to meet coach Don...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close