"Don has stressed going to the net a lot," Jacob Cepis said, referring to Gophers coach Don Lucia. "We are not going to have a high guy all the time. We are going to put a guy [by] the net and get pucks on the net."
That's what the Gophers did three times in the first period for goals on Sunday in a 6-0 rout of British Columbia.
"Right now in hockey that is where you score all your goals anyway, pretty plays don't always work.
"Obviously everyone wasn't at their top out there. Even myself I felt a little rusty. I haven't played a game in a while. Your hands and some of the vision things are not there but we are excited. I am definitely excited. This is my first full season in two years." [Cepis had to sit out the first half of last season after transferring from Bowling Green.]
Cepis said the victory was still a confidence booster, even though it was an exhibition game. "Any time you score goals against anyone, it feels good. Especially six," he said. "Not only can you talk about the goals, we didn't give up any goals. It is better to win 6-0 than to win 2-0. Your confidence is way up there."
The Gophers seemed much faster against than the Thunderbirds and passed the puck well at times. "We have a quick team this year," Cepis said. "We have a lot of guys that can skate, so that's another big thing that we stress. The puck was moving well. There are some areas we can get better at passing. Some of the tic-tac-toe, we missed a lot of passes. Other than that it was pretty good."
Cepis liked the freshmen's play, too.
"Tommy Serratore probably could have had a hat trick," Cepis said. "We were teasing him about it."
Serratore, a 21-year-old freshman walk-on scored one goal and hit two posts.
"They all did good," Cepis said. "Obviously they are not used to playing on this ice. Some of the guys never played on an Olympic sheet. Don was pretty happy with [them]. We are going to need them to play good. We have a lot of young guys. [They] are going to be a big part of our team."
Ten total, including Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad, who centered the first two lines.
Cepis was the left wing on Bjugstad's line. "He was a little nervous at first, I talked to him about it," Cepis said. "He got to calm down a little bit, he gets ramped up. He wants to go go. He is a great player. I am going to give him credit. Some of those things you got to get used to, playing at a higher level with older guys.
"But he did great. He did well on faceoffs. He is a strong kid. I like playing with him. I am the tiny guy on the line."
Cepis sure is, he is 5-8. Bjugstad is 6-4 and the right wing on the second line was 6-3 Zach Budish.
"We had different lines every day," Cepis said. "It could be different next week. I don't know what it is going to be. Things change. I was happy with our line. I thought we played pretty good. I think all the lines played pretty good. Everyone contributed.
"Don is mixing it up to see, it the beginning of the year, he is going to see what kind of chemisty [there is] with which guys."
Taylor Matson, a junior center, missed much of his first (knee) and second (ankle) seasons with the Gophers because of injuries.
"It has been kind of a battle the last couple of years for me," Matson said. "It has been really exciting for me this year. There has been a lot of good chemistry with the guys. It felt really good this first game."