"It is a great feeling," Mark Alt said after the defenseman had a goal and two assists in the Gophers' 6-2 romp over Michigan Tech on Saturday.
"We struggled [Friday] night," he said, referring to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Huskies. "We had a long meeting [Saturday] and knew what we had to do. It was a difference coming out the first 10 minutes. We were a lot faster and played a lot more physical and that helped us out."
The 6-3, 202-pound Alt nearly double his point total last weekend. He had two goals and six assists for eight points in the Gophers first 18 games. Now he has four goals and nine assists for 13 points.
That's three more points than he had in 35 games last season. As a freshman, Alt, who came to the U directly from Cretin-Derham Hall, had two goals and eight assists.
I'm guessing the Gophers nominated him for the WCHA's defensive player of the week. His goal on Saturday was the game-winner.
Alt's goal came from the middle of the left circle, which is much lower than he usually goes on offense.
"Nate Schmidt rolled up top," Alt said, referring to his defensive partner at the time. "so I figured I could step down to the side a little bit and find a lane and it worked out."
That is usually where Gophers center Nick Bjugstad, who has 16 goals, often shoots from.
" It was right in [Nick's] spot," Alt said. "It [has] worked for him, so I figured I would try it."
The Michigan Tech players apparently decided to try to manhandle the Gophers late in the game
"They probably didn't like the score at that time," Alt said. "It was a physical game. You kind of feel it coming and it kind of blew up there at the end
"I never played in the USHL. It was pretty exciting to see. I have never really been around a whole lot of fighting. It was getting a little physical out there. It was fun."
Actually, he had 12 of his 26 penalty minutes last season in a game against Michigan Tech on Feb. 26. He scored a goal in that game, too.
Back to Saturday. Four Huskies took penalties in the last 3-1/2 minutes.
Jake Hansen's helmet was pulled off after he scored the Gophers' sixth goal. Seth Helgeson and Tech's Carl Nielsen, two 6-4 defensemen, wrestled in front of the Gophers' bench.
Nobody was hurt. Actually, the most interesting part was the sideshow on the benches. One of the Tech assistant coaches stood up on one of the benches and shouted over the plexiglass at the Gophers coaches.
Head coach Don Lucia and assistant Grant Potulny shouted back. All three were pretty animated. So much so that two of the officials jumped up on the railings to calm things down.
On the Gophers' new fourth line of seniors Joey Miller-Christian Isackson-Nico Sacchetti: "They did awesome and they were fresh and that is kind of what we were looking for. They came out and, when they were out there, they did a great job. [Those] really stepped up, so it was a big help."
On how big Saturday's win was: "You don't want to lose two games and go into a [20-day0 winter break. We made an emphasis that we want to win [Saturday]. Come out in first place in the WCHA going into the break and that's what we did. It is something you feel good about for the next couple of weeks." ... The Gophers are tied with Minnesota Duluth for the WCHA lead; each team has 22 points.