Junior winger Jake Hansen was probably the Gophers' best player on Friday in their 4-3 loss to the University of Alaska Anchorage.
He had a team-high five shots on goal and scored on a penalty shot to wake up his sleep-walking teammates in the middle of the second period at Mariucci Arena.
"Our team didn't come out," Hansen said. "It is really unacceptable for the fans, for our coaches, for everything. We didn't play a hockey game for the whole 60 minutes, which you need to do in playoffs. Alaska has been playing some good hockey. Their goalie has been pretty good lately.
"We knew we had to get in the dirty areas. We knew that we are a better team than they are and we didn't take advantage of it [Friday]."
The Gophers did forge a 3-3 tie after falling behind 3-0. Hansen scored on a penalty shot and junior defenseman Aaron Ness on a power play within 16 seconds of each other in the middle of the second period. Then Kevin Wehrs, a senior defenseman, got a goal at 11:18 of the third period and Mariucci got very loud.
"When we got it to 3-3, I thought we were going to win this game for sure," Hansen said. "And then they get kind of a -- you can call it a lucky goal. It wasn't a very good goal. Their guy got in front, a backhand off the post, that's when you knew your luck ran out."
Gophers coach Don Lucia took a no-panic approad after the loss.
"We are going to cool down and go eat and come back [Saturday]," he said. "We will show them some video clips and hopefully we can play relaxed but play hard. You have to be able to do both of those things.
"We have been in this situation a few years back, where we lost the first [game] and came back and won the next two. But it is all about [Saturday] now. You've got to win one game. If you don't win one game, the season is over. We have to have a good start to our game. We also have to understand it is going to be a hard-fought game.
The present seniors were freshmen in March of 2008 when the Gophers were at Minnesota State in Mankato for a first round series. Every game went into overtime. The Gophers lost the first game, then won the next two/
UAA coach Dave Shyiak on his team's reaction to losing a 3-0 lead: "Our guys took a big step in maturity [Friday]. I saw it on the bench, how composed we were. I didn't see any of our guys rattled throughout the game. We knew it was going to be a tight game until the end and that's what it was."
Lucia on loss: "It is obviously disappointing. Some of our young guys looked nervous to start the game. We got better as the game went on. The bottom line is, you can't give up four goals at this time of the year and win in playoffs."
Lucia on slow start -- no shots in first seven minutes, only seven shots in first period: "The energy was there. The execution wasn't. Some of the younger guys were jittery with the puck. We weren't making some of the plays we had the ability to make early in the game. Once we scored, we seemed to settle into the game a little bit better."
Lucia, asked if he will have a special pep talk before Saturday's game: "You should not have to have a special pep talk at this time of the year. It's about execution. The will was there and the heart was there but the execution wasn't. [Saturday] we have to have the execution."
Lucia on team's health: "We had some guys that didn't practice much this week. And at times it showed. Hopefully after getting a game under their belts, the guys that didn't [practice a lot] will play a little better." ... Junior defenseman Aaron Ness, who missed last Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over Bemidji State, was in the lineup for Alaska Anchorage. He scored a goal, but was a minus-3. Junior forward Taylor Matson, also injured at Bemidji State, did not play Friday and probably won't play in the second UAA game either, Lucia said.