"We have obviously had some great games over the years," The Don said, referring to this weekend's home and home series with Minnesota State Mankato. "It seems like all the games are close. When I look at it, since I've been here, we are fortunate to be on the winning edge of a lot of them. But it seems a lot of them are one- or two-goal games. And I don't think this [weekend] will be any different.
"They have a very experienced junior, senior team. Look at some of those names, it seems like they have been around for 10 years. The one missing ingredient [for the Mavs] when the year began was, who is going to step forward and be their goaltender? And [sophomore Austin] Lee has kind of taken that over."
Lee, who played at Bloomington Jefferson, has a 2.54 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in nine games.
"They got a good, solid experienced team," The Don said. "We got to start stringing together some successful weekends, not just successful nights. You can't do that unless you win on Friday night, it's as simple as it sounds. For whatever reason, we have played better the second night of a series than the first night. We have to do whatever we can to come out and play a strong game at home on Friday."
This home and home series starts with a game at Mariucci on Friday, than the two teams play at the Verizon Wireless Center on Saturday. [I like the name change of the arena in Mankato. I always had trouble spelling the Alltel Center. The first word always looks misspelled to me even if I spell it correctly.)
PATTERSON MIGHT GET START
Sophomore goalie Kent Patterson will get more starts, maybe even one this weekend, after making 37 saves last Saturday in the Gophers' 2-1 victory over Michigan State.
The Don said the coaching staff evaluates goalies daily just like forwards and defensmen.
"Kent has started three games," The Don said. "He has played very well in the three games he has started. We know he did not play very good when he came in the one game against Bemidji [four goals given up in less than 24 minutes].
"That wasn't a game he expected to start. [Patterson came in for the start of the second period.] He has certainly earned the right to continue to play. There is a good chance he will play this weekend."
THE DON'S THOUGHTS
* On 2-1 win over Michigan State: "Saturday we played pretty darn well. That was the one game that wasn't on TV so not many people got a chance to see it. ... Our puck pursuit was very good, we stayed on the defensive side of pucks, our goaltending was good.
"We only had one power play all night long and that was early in the game. Our penalty kill ... What I liked most about what we did on Saturday, we showed some resilence which we haven't done at times this year. We had played so well for 57 minutes, they get a fluke goal to tie it 1-1. You could say, 'Here we go again.' But we scored again on the very next shift. That's something we have not had a whole lot of."
* On puck luck: "You have to make your breaks, but it doesn't seem like we had a whole lot this year. And hopefully that will even out by the time the year ends. We need to score a few more goals. That's a big part of it. We need to score a little bit more on the power play. Our penalty kill has been strong. We have to have that consistent goaltending night in and night out. If we start to do those things, than we can take a step as a team."
* On talent level on Gophers: "Our guys also understand that we are the type of team that we have to play well and play hard to give ourselves a chance to win. We have some good players but we are not going to go out and just outskill people. We have to make sure that our work ethic and we do the little things to win games."
* Home record: "We have to play better at home, that's the big thing. You look at on the road, we have played North Dakota, at Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State and we are 2-3-1 which is pretty darn good in those games. And we are 3-5 at home that's what has let us down more than anything else. If you even split the Denver and split the UMD series, then all of a sudden you are sitting in decent shape considering with the inuries and some of the things we have had to go through this season."
* On only one Gopher in World Juniors Championships: "We would like it, for their sake, to have as many guys have the opportunity to go as possible. But certainly from a selfish standpoint, I am not shedding tears we are only going to lose one guy. Jordan [Schroeder] will miss the two games, but more important for a lot of guys, they get a break. They will take their finals and go home for a week and come back rested and refreshed for the second half of the season. .. With our depth and the amount of guys we have right now, it's good we are not losing anybody else."