What the Gophers are doing so far on the ice is pretty remarkable. They have the national "hat trick" in scoring so far:
* Most points by any player: 17, sophomore center Erik Haula has seven goals and 10 assists in seven games. His 17 points are three more than any other player in NCAA hockey. ... He already has one more goal than last season and is quickly approaching his freshman season points total of 24. And this is still October. ... Strong candidate for National Player of the Month.
* Most points by a rookie: 11, freshman left wing Kyle Rau. It sure looked on the video that he scored the Gophers' second goal on Friday. But officials gave it to Nick Bjugstad. Rau still got two assists, so he has ONLY six goals and five assists for 11 points. That is two points more than any other rookie and one more goal than any other first-year player. He also has three game-winners. ... Strong candidate for National Rookie of the Month.
* Most points by a defenseman: 11, sophomore Nate Schmidt. He picked up two more assists Friday. So his stats line is one goal and 10 assists for 11 points. Not bad considering he had one assist in 13 games last season. ... Would be strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Month if there was such an award. Don't think there is.
And then there is senior goalie Kent Patterson. He is also doing amazing things. His four shutouts are two more than any other goalie. His save percentage of .936 is the seventh-best nationally. He is 6-1-0 and in two of his wins he stopped a career-high 46 shots (out of 50) against UMD. His goal-against average is 1.85.
In this bleak fall-winter sports scene, coach Don Lucia's club could be the one ray of hope this winter. A team that when March arrives is fighting for the WCHA title and not scratching for home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. That would be fun.
For sure, this team seems to have more offensive punch than the previous four Gophers teams which finished seventh, fifth, seventh and fifth in the WCHA standings. That alone is an exciting thought.