U hockey sharper in rematch with Mavericks

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2013 - 11:59 PM

The Gophers beat Minnesota State Mankato 4-1 to stay in the thick of the WCHA race.


Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox pokes the puck away from Minnesota State-Mankato's Brett Knowles during the first period of a college hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in Mankato, Minn.

Photo: Pat Christman, Associated Press/Mankato Free Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

MANKATO - With a two-week break before the Gophers' next game, coach Don Lucia intends to use the time wisely. Lucia will give his players a couple of days off to rest their bodies and minds for the stretch run of the WCHA race, but he also has some rigorous practices planned to prepare them for the critical games to come.

They entered the break on a good note after a 4-1 victory Saturday over Minnesota State Mankato. After a poor start and a loss in Friday's series opener, the top-ranked Gophers (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) improved in several areas to put themselves back into a positive frame of mind. They showed more energy in the first period to jump to a 2-0 lead, gave better support to goalie Adam Wilcox and righted their struggling power play with two goals on three opportunities at Verizon Wireless Center.

Defensemen Justin Holl and Nate Schmidt scored in the first period, while Zach Budish made it 3-0 on a power play at 9 minutes, 46 seconds of the third. Wilcox stopped the Mavericks' first 24 shots before Zach Lehrke slammed in a rebound at 12:59 of the third. The loss was only the fourth in 18 games for the No. 14 Mavericks (16-9-3, 10-9-1).

The Gophers do not play again until Feb. 8-9 at No. 16 St. Cloud State. Lucia was much happier Saturday with his team's willingness to do the grunt work of blocking shots and battling in front of the net, as well as with it capturing two precious points in a tightly bunched league.

"It was extremely important [to win],'' Lucia said. "We've got to get points every weekend. We've got five straight games on the road against good quality opponents, and it's great to start with a win.''

Friday's 2-1 loss ended the Gophers' 10-game unbeaten streak. Saturday, a strong start boosted their confidence before a crowd announced at 5,134, the fifth-largest ever at the arena.

Holl, who had not scored a goal in 42 games, got the Gophers rolling with an unassisted goal at 12:34 of the first. He stripped the puck from Lehrke and raced to the net, pushing it past goalie Stephon Williams as he crashed into the goal.

The Gophers got their first power-play opportunity at 17:19 of the first period, when the Mavericks' Zach Palmquist was called for interference. They replaced the disjointed effort of recent games with smooth, efficient execution. Schmidt, set up by Budish and Kyle Rau, beat Williams from the slot at 18:11 for a 2-0 lead.

Wilcox shut out the Mavericks for the first 52:59 until a defensive breakdown allowed the trailing Lehrke to blast in the rebound of Bryce Gervais' shot. The Mavericks appeared to have scored again 27 seconds later, but officials ruled that Johnny McInnis's goal had been deflected in off his hand and disallowed it.

The Gophers blocked 30 of the Mavericks' 69 shot attempts and killed both their power-play chances. Wilcox made 26 saves to improve his record to 17-3-4.

During the bye week, Lucia said, the Gophers will work on details such as five-on-three power plays and pulled-goalie situations. He wants to freshen his team mentally while keeping it sharp and on task, and he hopes to improve its consistency for the stretch run.

"We just have to get better,'' Lucia said. "We have to continue to grow as a team. That's the most important thing.''


    Up next: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at St. Cloud State • TV: FSN Plus (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question