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.
North Dakota senior forward Danny Kristo, of Eden Prairie, has been named the 2012-13 College Hockey News' Player of the Year.
Kristo, obviously, also was named to the All-CHN first team, while Corban Knight, his center, was named to the All-CHN second team.
He had career highs this season in points (52), goals (26) and plus/minus (+17), while tying his career high in assists (26).
He is tied for second in the nation in both points and goals going into the Frozen Four and is tied for third with six game-winning goals.
He is the first player at UND to record 20-plus assists in each of his four seasons since Jeff Panzer did it from 1997-98 to 2000-01. Kristo reached the scoresheet in 31 game this season, tied for second-most in the nation, and led the team in plus/minus.
Many will also remember Kristo for the frostbite incident as a sophomore. He suffered severe frostbite on one foot and one hand on Jan. 30 when he ventured outside on a cold night, and somehow lost his tennis shoe. Doctors at first feared they might have to amputate his toes. He wound up at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and even came back to play at the end of that seaosn.
He's made quite a comeback from that stumble.
Kristo and Knight are both among the 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists.The Hobey Hat Trick -- the three final names -- will be announced today. One or both could make it, or they could take votes away from one another. It's hard to guess how it will turn out.
Knight had personal highs in points (49) and assists (33), while matching his career high with 16 goals.
He is from High River, Alberta, native, and led the nation with 623 faceoff wins, 120 more than any other player and the second-most in UND single-season history.
Knight put together a 19-game point streak that was UND’s longest in 25 years, and his 32 games with at least one point were more than any other player in the country.
During their four years at UND, Kristo and Knight helped lead UND to four NCAA postseason appearances, three Broadmoor Trophies as WCHA playoff champion, the 2010-11 MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champion and one NCAA Frozen Four appearance.
The College Hockey News teams:
All-CHN First Team
F Danny Kristo, Sr., North Dakota
F Johnny Gaudreau, So., Boston College
F Ryan Walters, Jr., Nebraska Omaha
D Nick Jensen, Jr., St. Cloud State
D Chad Ruhwedel, Jr., Mass.-Lowell
G Eric Hartzell, Sr., Quinnipiac
All-CHN Second Team
F Steven Whitney, Sr., Boston College
F Greg Carey, Jr., St. Lawrence
F Corban Knight, Sr., North Dakota
D Jacob Trouba, Fr., Michigan
D Nate Schmidt, Jr., Minnesota
G Jon Gillies, Fr., Providence
CHN All-Rookie Team
F Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State
F Danny O'Regan, Boston University
F Riley Barber, Miami
D Mike Matheson, Boston College
D Jacob Trouba, Michigan
G Jon Gillies, Providence
Three of the four NCAA regionals this year pit two WCHA teams against teams from other conferences in the first round.
But the only WCHA teams favored to advance to a regional final are the Gophers and North Dakota, both in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Here's a look at the regional:
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Friday's first semifinal, 1 p.m.
No. 1 seed Minnesota (26-8-5) vs. No. 4 Yale (18-12-3 ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
Friday's second semifinal, 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 North Dakota (21-12-7) vs. No. 3 Niagara (23-9-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m. ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
Gophers at a glance
Record: 26-8-5 overall, 16-7-5 in WCHA ... tied for first place in conference standings with St. Cloud State on last day of regular season, so two shared MacNaughton Cup ... lost in their first game of Final Five, falling 2-0 to Colorado College in semifinals
NCAA history: 52-34 record, never played Yale in postseason
Vs. Yale: 14-6 all-time. ... Gophers have won last seven games. Last meeting was Dec. 27, 2002 in Gophers' holiday tournament. U won 7-2.
Streaks: Had won five in a row -- four over 11th place Bemidji State -- before loss to CC ... 10-game unbeaten streak (8-0-2) from Dec. 1-Jan 11. ... Had 4-3-2 stretch right after that unbeaten streak
Top scorers: Jr. F Erik Haula, 16-33--49 (same points total as last season, second in nation in points per game, 1.36); so. F Kyle Rau, 15-24-39 (seven game-winners); jr. F Nick Bjugstad, 21-15-36 (11 goals on power play)
Top defensemen: Jr. Nate Schmidt, 8-23-31; so. Ben Marshall, 8-11-19 (plus-9).
Goalie: Adam Wilcox, 1.85 goals-against average, .922 save percentage, 25-7-5 ... started 37 of 39 games ... needs one more victory to set new record for wins by freshman
Coach: Don Lucia, recently named coach of U.S. team for World Juniors in 2014 in Malmo, Sweden ... won back-to-back Frozen Fours at the U in 2002 and '03 ... 14th season at U ... over 600 career victories ...
Minnesotans on active roster: 18
The quote: ESPN analyst Dave Starman on NCAA selection show picked Wilcox as his goalie to watch in tournament. Starman said, "Adam Wilcox allowed Minnesota to play a loosey-goosey, high-octane offense."
Intangibles: Gophers were overwhelming pick to win the WCHA and Bjugstad was picked as preseason player of year. ... But neither the team nor Bjugstad dominated as expected. The Gophers swept only two regular-season conference series, one vs. Alaska Anchorage, other over Bemidji State, two bottom-feeders. ... Now they have to play four strong games in a row to reach their goal. Can they?
Yale Bulldogs at a glance
Record: 18-12-3 overall, 12-9-1 in conference for third place in ECAC behind Quinnipiac (No. 1 overall seed in tournament) and RPI (staying home)
NCAA history: Sixth NCAA tournament, including three in a row from 2009-11. ... 3-5 in those games. ... Lost in region finals to Boston College in 2010 and Minnesota Duluth in 2011 and both those teams went on to win NCAA titles.
Streaks: Shutout in last two games, losing 5-0 to Union in ECAC semifinals and to Quinnipiac 3-0 in the third place game. Before the tournament, Yale had a five-game winning streak, which was preceded by a five-game losing streak. So Yale has had a bit of a yo-yo season.
Top scorers: Jr. F Kenny Agostino, 15-22-37; sr. F Andrew Miller, 16-19-35 (first team all-ECAC, 150 career points in 137 games, best passer); sr. F Antoine Laganiere 14-13-27 (hardest shot).
Top defensemen: So. Tommy Fallen 7-15-22 (fastest skater); sr. Colin Dueck (only senior on blue line).
Goalie: Sr. Jeff Malcom, 2.42 GAA, .914 save percentage.
Coach: Keith Allain, seventh year at Yale, his alma mater; coach of U.S. team in World Juniors in 2001, '02 and '12 ... coached Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau on 2012 U.S. team.
Minnesotans on active roster: 1, Fallen from Plymouth ... played high school hockey for Armstrong
The quote: "I am really happy for the guys," coach Keith Allain said. "They have worked extremely hard for this opportunity and we are looking forward to the challenge."
Intangibles: Last team in NCAA tournament. Had to wait for Notre Dame to beat Michigan 3-1 in CCHA final to get last at-large bid. .. Has beaten two WCHA teams on road Nov. 23-24, Denver 2-1 in OT and Colorado College 6-1 in OT. ... Six seniors have won 83 games, will play in third NCAA tournament, have won three Ivy League and two ECAC titles. ... Yale was No. 1 overall seed in 2011 NCAA field. ... The Bulldogs are wearing a sticker with a ribbon on the back of their helmets in memory of those killed in the Sandy Hook (Newtown) School shootings.
Opponents in other first-round game
North Dakota at a glance
Record: 21-12-7, 14-7-7 for third place in WCHA. Lost 4-3 to Colorado College in Final Five semifinals
NCAA history: Making 28th trip. Has won seven NCAA titles.
Streaks: UND will be playing in its 11th consecutive NCAA tournament, the longest active streak after Michigan lost in CCHA final. Wolverines had made 22 postseason trips in a row.
Vs. Niagara: 4-0 all-time. Beat Niagara 3-1 in last meeting on Jan. 2, 2010 in Notre Dame tournament.
Top scorers: Sr. RW Danny Kristo, 25-26-51 (third in nation in goals, tied for third in points, also third in points per game at 1.34); sr. C Corban Knight, 15-33-48; fr. LW Rocco Grimaldi, 13-22-3 (points in 12 of last 13 games).
Top defensemen: Sr. Andrew MacWilliam, 1-10-11 (plus-14, 41 penalties); jr. Dillon Simpson, 5-19-24; sr. Joe Gleason, 5-13-18. ... UND has six NHL draft picks on the blue line.
Goalie: Jr. Clarke Saunders, transfer from Alabama Huntsville, 2.36 GAA, .915 save percentage, 13-8-4, and fr. Zane Gothberg of Thief River Falls, 2.55 GAA, .918, 8-4-3.
Coach: Dave Hakstol has had nine 20-win seasons in a row since becoming UND's coach and his teams have made NCAA tournament every year.
Minnesotans on active roster: 6
The quote: "It’s a four-game tournament and you only get one shot at the first game,” UND coach Dave Hakstol is quoted as saying in the Grand Forks Herald. “That’s what we’re focusing on and preparing ourselves for. It’s exciting to be in."
Intangibles: Hakstol has taken UND to five Frozen Fours in past eight years but his teams have not been able to win one. His teams are 12-8 overall in NCAA games. Last national title for UND was in 2000. That's a burning desire. UND has one of the best, if not the best fan following of any college hockey team. ... The team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux needs to get power play going, it's 2 for 22 in last six games.
Niagara at a glance
Record: 23-9-5, won Atlantic Hockey regular-season title with 20-5-2 record, but lost in Atlantic Hockey semifinals 5-3 to Canisius ... 15-0-2 at home -- only Division I team not to lose a game on home ice
NCAA history: This is program's fourth NCAA appearance and second as an at-large bid in program's 17-year history. ... This is the first time the Atlantic Hockey Conference has two teams in national field. ... Lost to UND 4-1 in regional in 2000.
Streaks: Upset by Canisius in Atlantic Hockey semifinals. Started season 2-2-3. Won eight in row early. Only 2-3-0 in last five games.
Top scorers: Jr. F Ryan Murphy, 15-21-36; sr. F Giancarlo Ivorio 21-13-34 (21 goals in only 26 games played, first-team all-conference, recently reached 100-points milestone for career)
Top defensemen: Jr. Kevin Ryan, 1-23-24; sr. C.J. Chartrain, 2-11-13.
Goalie: Jr. Carsen Chubak, 1.90 GAA, .938, 23-6-5 (named player of year in Atlantic Hockey).
Coach: Dave Burkholder named coach of year in Atlantic Hockey.
Minnesotans on active roster: 1, sophomore forward Isaac Kohls from Forest Lake, 4-7-11 in 23 games
The quote: "To be playing a program like North Dakota that has so much history is going to be a huge challenge that I know our players, and our entire university community will embrace," coach Dave Burkholder said, according to a Niagara news release.
Intangibles: Hot goalies can carry a team in the playoffs and Niagara has one of the top netminders in the country. Only two goalies were named among the 10 candidates for the Hobey Baker Award last week and Chubak was one.
Three Hobey Baker Award finalists will play in the UND-Niagara game. Here are the bios on all three, provided at the same time the 10 candidates were named last week:
Corban Knight – North Dakota, Senior, Forward, High River, Alberta
The assistant captain was the top vote getter in the Vote for Hobey fan ballot and at one point this season, had a 19-game point streak, the longest North Dakota streak in 25 years. He currently ranks second in the nation in assists with 33 and was named to the all-WCHA second team. Knight is dynamite on face-offs averaging over 58% the past three seasons.
· Has 15 goals, 33 assists for 48 points in 38 games – seventh in the nation in scoring
· Recorded points in 29 games, second most in nation – Florida draft pick (5th round)
· Physical Education, Exercise Science & Wellness major – active volunteer with multiple organizations
Danny Kristo – North Dakota, Senior, Forward, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
With linemate Corban Knight setting him up, Kristo is the finisher with 24 goals to rank third in the nation in goal scoring, giving North Dakota a powerful one-two punch. An assistant captain, Kristo was named to the all-WCHA first team, finishing second in the conference in goals and points. Kristo leads all active Division I college players in career points with 159.
· Has 24 goals, 26 assists for 50 points in 38 games – third in the nation in scoring
· Recreation and Tourism Studies major and is very active in community volunteering
· Montreal draft pick (2nd round) – has 14 multiple point games
Carsen Chubak – Niagara University, Junior, Goalie, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
After playing nine games as a freshman and just one last year due to injury, Chubak has rebounded with a fantastic year. He led the Atlantic Hockey Association in virtually all goalie statistics and was named to all-conference first team and player of the year. He has played in 33 of the Purple Eagles 36 games and leads the nation with six shutouts, including a run of three straight.
· Currently 23-6-5 overall with a 1.81 goals against average, for fifth in the nation
· His .941 save percentage is fourth in the nation – AHA Goalie of the Week seven times
· Is a Sport Management major – helps a local youth hockey team several days a month
Freshman goalie Pheonix Copley made 29 saves and C.J. Eick scored the game-winning goal with 2:02 left to play as Michigan Tech, the 10th seed, stunned third-seeded North Dakota 2-1 on Saturday at The Ralph in the WCHA playoffs.
Deciding Game 3 of the best-of-three, first-round series is 7 p.m. Sunday. North Dakota, which has won the Broadmoor Trophy the past three years, had won 14 conference playoff games in a row. UND's last lost was to the Gophers in the second game of a three-game series in Grand Forks in 2010.
North Dakota (20-11-7) has played in the past 10 Final Fives.
Tech (13-19-4) held a 1-0 lead for much of the game after Tanner Kero tipped home a Blake Pietila shot 20 seconds into the second period. The teams were skating four-on-four at the time after Dennis Rix of Tech was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind and UND's Michael Parks was called for hooking at the end of the first period.
Kero's goal was the only scoring until late in the third period.
UND came with a lot of pressure then entire third period and had several grade A scoring chances. Copley, according to a Tech news release, made at least three saves on what looked like sure goals.
Danny Kristo, a senior wing from Eden Prairie, finally beat Copley with a wrister from the slot with 5:03 to play to tie the score at 1-1. It was his 24th goal of the season and third of the series.
On Eick's winning goal, teammate Brad Stebner took away the puck in the defensive zone and sent it rink-wide to Ryan Furne. Furne returned it across the neutral zone to Eick, who had a step on a defender. The freshman got his third goal of the season on a backhand into the top left corner.
"I was trying to take it wide and get the puck on net,'' Eick said, according to a UND news release. "Ryan Furne made a great pass to put me on, I wouldn't say a breakaway, but I had a little step on them.''
Eick said he tried going short side with his shot. "I think he [Clark Saunders] was making the read I was going to cut to the far post, so he leaned and I tried to tuck it short side.''
His goal came about 30 seconds after UND freshman star Rocco Grimaldi had a similar rush at Tech but slid his shot wide.
"We earned this win," said head coach Mel Pearson. "The guys did the little things it takes to win.
"I told them last night there's no moral victories. The guys really rallied, and we live to see another day."
Tech's win was its first win at Ralph Englestadt Arena since Mar. 15, 2008, when the Huskies defeated the Fighting Sioux 3-2 in overtime in game two of a WCHA playoff series.
Both teams used a different goaltender than last night and got strong play in net. Clarke Saunders made 29 saves including several key stops. His counterpart between the Huskies' pipes was the difference in the game.
Copley stopped nine shots in the first period, seven in the second and 13 in the third.
Tech nearly scored on the power play in the first five minutes of the game as Furne beat Saunders. Furne's shot was gloved away by a defenseman and play continued. The overhead replay showed the puck passing the cross bar, but the play was never reviewed.
The Huskies killed all four UND power plays in the game including the major to Rix. Tech went 0-for-3 on the man advantage.
"They pressed us hard in the third period, and we were able to come out on top," said Pearson. "[Sunday]'s going to be a heck of a hockey game."
UND pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker for the final 1:31, and Copley made several more saves.
It was a hard-fought playoff game,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We came up one goal short. We battled hard. It was kind of an up-and-down first period, I thought they carried the momentum in the second period and we had a good push throughout the third. But it wasn't enough.
"We didn't find a lot of holes on him [Copley].''
Copley had lost his previous four starts and given up 19 goals in those games. Go figure.
Kristo led UND in shots on goal with six, followed by Grimaldi with five.
"He's got to keep creating opportunities and make sure he gets pucks on net and keeps working hard,'' Hakstol said of Grimaldi.
"We've just go to come back and play an outstanding 60 minutes,'' Hakstol said. "It's two teams fighting to move on.''
Said UND captain Andrew MacWilliam, "It's playoff hockey. If you don't bring your best, you're not going to like the outcome. We kind of lulled there in the second period and it came back to bite us.''
Gophers coach Don Lucia recently talked about how important the next four games are to his team. That they will decide if his team can contend for a second consecutive MacNaughton Cup.
The Gophers play at first-place St. Cloud State this coming weekend and then journey to Madison, Wis., to play the Badgers at the Kohl Center on Friday and in an outdoors game two days later at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Badgers got off to an awful start with key injuries, a star freshman being suspended. Even one of coach Mike Eaves' assistants, Bill Butters, quit abruptly.
But Eaves has righted the sinking ship. Wisconsin had an 11-game unbeaten streak (7-04) until losing 4-1 to North Dakota on Saturday before 11,962 at The Ralph in Grand Forks.
The Badgers (11-9-6, 8-6-6) gave up a power-play goal in the first minute and another later in the opening period. UND was 2x8 on the power play, Wisconsin 0x5.
Goal-scorers for UND were Mark MacMillan, Joe Gleason and Michael Parks (two).
Here is an interesting stat: When UND took a 2-0 lead against the Badgers, it was the first time in 17 games they had trailed by two goals.
After falling behind 4-0, the Badgers finally scored on Mark Zengerle's goal.
Last weekend's meetings were the 162nd and 163rd between Wisconsin and UND. But they have agreed to play each other in nonconference games next season when UW joins the Big Ten Conference and North Dakota the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
BIG WIN FOR UND
North Dakota really needed the win on Saturday. The team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux was on a five-game winless streak (0-2-3) -- it's longest in 10 years.
Parks, obviously, had a big game for them. The sophomore forward from St. Louis, Mo., had missed 18 of the first 19 games with injuries but has five goals in 11 games since his return.
"It's very important,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said of the getting contributions from Parks and others. "We have to get scoring throughout our lineup. That's something that hasn't happened over the last three weeks.''
UND's slide began at Mariucci last month when the Gophers beat North Dakota 5-1 and then tied UND 4-4.
North Dakota (14-8-6, 9-5-6) is tied for third in the WCHA race with the Gophers and Denver going into a road series at Nebraska Omaha. One of the games is outdoors.
Wisconsin is in sixth, but just two points behind the traffic jam in third. The Badgers play Bemidji State at the Kohl Center this weekend.
Gophers coach Don Lucia used his weekly radio show on Monday to defend himself from critics complaining that North Dakota won't be on the U's schedule the next three seasons.
"We have a rule at the University of Minnesota -- not put in by me -- but by the regents that we can not play a team with an Indian nickname," Lucia said. "And for years, this controversy with North Dakota and the nickname has been going on. And it has been fought in the courts and everything else.
"And it did not get settled until this summer. Well -- if you want to put the blame on me for not waiting to find out whether it was going to get settled or not, then so be it. I can accept that fact.
"I wasn't going to wait. When the conferences all broke up a couple of years ago. And we were heading into all these new conferences, it was kind of a frenzy and free-for-all for scheduling nonconference games. And when we had the opportunity to schedule some good opponents -- I could have waited, but I chose not to wait. But I wanted to ensure we had a good schedule for our fans and our team."
(Hold on there, coach. Virg Foss, a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald, the paper in the town UND plays in, points out in a recent column that the Wisconsin Badgers have the similar scheduling restriction. Yet UND and the Badgers will play each other the next four years.)
Back to The Don:
"And then once the controversy with the nickname ended, then we would be in a position to put North Dakota back on our schedule and that is exactly what is going to happen. Right now we have our three more years with Notre Dame after this and four with Boston College. It is pretty much done that when Notre Dame drops off our schedule, North Dakota will come back on our schedule."
"They should be on the schedule on a pretty regular basis. Should it be every year? I don't know. We are starting to get so far out that it might be somebody else's decision, not mine. But I do believe we need to play them and our first available opportunity to play them -- when our schedule is clear -- they will be back on our schedule. A year here and a year up there. We will go back and fourth, rather than one and one."
(UND coach Dave Hakstol has said he would like to play a home-and-home series with the Gophers every year over three days. The middle day would be a travel day.)
"That will be good. It will be good for our fans. They will be excited, our players will be excited. It is a win-win for everybody. But you know what, if they wouldn't have fought [for] their old nickname, maybe we would be playing next year, instead of keeping that [controversy] alive for five years."
(Last week Lucia proposed playing North Dakota in 2016-17, 2017-18, then taking two years off, then repeating that pattern. ... Foss in his column, which was picked up by the College Hockey News is here, said UND and Gophers fans should write Lucia and U of M athletic director Norwood Teague asking them to schedule North Dakota every season because it is such a great rivalry.)
Lucia said the Gophers don't have as much scheduling flexibility as some might assume even though they will be in the six-team Big Ten Conference.
He said they will play 20 conference games and eight more every year against the four other Division I teams in Minnesota: Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth. Minnesota State Mankato and St. Cloud State. Six of those Gophers' games will be two-game series, two will be part of an all-Minnesota teams tournament at Mariucci.
Here's how the Gophers' schedule next season will look like, for instance:
Two games at Bemidji State
Minnesota State at Mariucci for two games
Minnesota Duluth at Mariucci for two games
St. Cloud State in first game of Gophers' new second tournament, in January
Minnesota State or UMD in second game of Gophers new second tournament, in January (Bemidji State will not be in the field the first year)
Bottom line is, Gophers will play St. Cloud State once next season, Bemidji State twice and Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State either twice or three times. ... The following year, another of the Minnesota teams takes St. Cloud State's place in the rotation, facing the Gophers only once, and so on.
With the Big Ten Conference schedule, those eight games against other Minnesota teams and the Mariucci Classic, between Christmas and New Year's Day as usual, the Gophers have 30 games.
That leaves only four more available games.
And the Gophers have those spots filled for three seasons:
2013-14: Notre Dame twice, probably on road; Boston College twice at Mariucci.
2014-15: Notre Dame twice, probably at Mariucci; Boston College and Northeastern for single games on road
2016-17: Notre Dame twice, probably on road; Northeastern twice at Mariucci
"Next year, we will have a very attractive schedule," Lucia said, "and this is what we are the most concerned with because, I mentioned, with the breakups of the leagues and everybody scrambling to find your nonconference opponents I liken it to like when you are a kid and you are playing musical chairs. When the music stops, you better find a chair. And we wanted to make sure we locked into our non-league games with quality opponents.
"We weren't willing to wait. And we didn't have to. We had an opportunity to schedule good non-league opponents and that's what we did."
Lucia said he likes playing the in-state Division I schools. "That was a priority," he said. "They all wanted to play us. That is important for our state.
He said the 2013-14 Big Ten schedule won't start until Thanksgiving time, so 10 of the Gophers' 14 nonconference games will be early, except for the Gophers' two tournaments.
"[The schedule] is almost going to be like Big Ten basketball," he said, "where you have your nonconference games before your Big Ten season starts."
RECAP OF UND SERIES
"Saturday's game was much more entertaining for the fans," Lucia said. "It was a better hockey game. The teams [on Friday] looked a little tentative and didn't have the pace of what Saturday's game was. ... What I liked that final 10 minutes, we had a good push."
The Gophers scored twice in the last 10 minutes of the third period to tie North Dakota 4-4, which was the final score after a scoreless overtime.
"Saturday's game was like an NCAA tournament game," Lucia said. "It was a playoff game, it was a March, April game in intensity. ... It just makes you better playing in a game like that."
* Lucia said senior center Erik Haula, who was moved to left wing on the first line for the UND series, was pretty sore after the games were over. He had missed the previous three games after being slashed on the hands.
Haula will get two days off this week, and play wing again versus Minnesota State. Then, after a week off the following weekend, Lucia said he hopefully expects Haula to be 100 percent and back at center on the second line for the series at St. Cloud on Feb. 8-9.
* Nate Condon had five points in the UND series, centering the second line. "He was really good this weekend," Lucia said.
* The Gophers have scored at least four goals in their past nine games, going back to the first game at Colorado College on Dec. 7.In that stretch they are 7-0-2 and are averaging 4.89 goals per game (44 total).
"The start we have had since Christmastime has been critical for us, not only in the league but, certainly, in the national picture," Lucia said.
The Gophers are tied for first place in the WCHA with St. Cloud State and ranked No. 1 nationally.
Asked if freshman goalie Adam Wilcox will every get a game off, Lucia said, Wilcox will get a break next weekend when the Gophers are idle after a home-and-home series with Minnesota State Mankato this weekend.
Lucia said he and Justin Johnson, the team's goalie coach, have talked about Wilcox and if his play starts to suffer, he will get a night off and junior Mike Shibrowski -- remember him? -- will play.
"I don't think we are talking about giving Bjugstad a day off on a Friday night because he is tired. Or anything like that. We will monitor it. We want to make sure he is fresh for us come playoff time.
"And if that means rotating goalies for a few weeks, we will do that. If he continues to play well and feels good, he will continue to play."
Translation: Wilcox will keep starting ever game unless a team really lights him up. Lucia, in recent seasons, seems to prefer one goalie. The torch got passed to Alex Kangas, then Kent Patterson and now Adam Wilcox.
THE DON SAYS
* On Alabama Huntsville being admitted to the WCHA for next season: "It is great. ... When I was coaching at [Alaska] Fairbanks, we used to play them every year. And we'd go down and play at Huntsville. It is just another opportunity for kids to play college hockey and coaches to coach college hockey in a footprint that is in a nontraditional area that maybe it can spread some day. ... Probably in this instance, if Huntsville didn't get into the WCHA, they would have shut down their program."
On Minnesota State, the Gophers' next opponent: "They are 12-3-1 in their last 16 games and two of those losses were in overtime to Wisconsin a couple weeks ago. They are playing very good. ... They are a team that had a whole host of injuries the year before. Those kids were coming back. It was a team that really had a chance to jump up. And we've seen that. ... They are as skilled as anybody."
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