The Gophers will practice Thursday morning at Mariucci Arena before flying to Denver, then they will bus to Colorado Springs. "Our guys like if we can practice at home before we head on the road," Lucia said. "Usually it is a much more productive practice. Flying, you are sluggish, and coaches get upset because you don't have a good practice. It's just the way it works."

Flying into and out of Denver, Lucia said, also means the Gophers can avoid an early morning flight back on Sunday from Colorado Springs.

Up to eight freshmen will be on the Gophers' trip to Colorado College this weekend, Lucia said. Doing the math, that means only one healthy freshman may stay home. There are 10 freshmen on the roster and center Nick Bjugstad is out for a month with mono.


"[CC] always has a fast team," said Lucia, who coached the Tigers for six seasons before taking the Minnesota job in 1999-2000. "They like to recruit guys that are 5-9, 5-10 and 5-11 and they can get around the rink. Certainly their leading scorer right now is Jaden Schwartz, who led the USHL as a senior in high school in scoring and is off to a great start with them.

"He and his brother [Rylan] are kind of leading the way right now. But they've got a lot of veterans. They are only playing three, four freshmen a night. So they've got some guys who have been in their program. And they have got good balance throughout their lineup. They are a good skating team and a good goaltender in Joe Howe, a local Plymouth [MN.] kid, so they have all the ingredients to have a successful season."

Howe gave up five goals in a CC 5-4 loss at Minnesota State Mankato last Friday but shut out the Mavericks 1-0 on 35 saves the next night. "He is certainly capable of doing that," Lucia said. "He played basically every game last year as a freshman. He might have got a little tired the second half of the season. That might have impacted how they finished last year. But he is a good goaltender, there is no question."

Howe is 2-2-1 this season with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.

CC struggled at the end of last season and finished sixth when it appeared the Tigers would be a the top five and have home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Jaden Schwartz, a freshman winger picked the preseason Rookie of the Year by WCHA coaches and the media, has four goals and two assists for six points, tying him for the team lead in scoring. He has two power-play goals.

Last season Jaden played for Tri-City of the USHL and had 33 golas and 50 assists for 83 points in the USHL. He was named the league's Forward of the Year. He is from Wilcox, Saskatchewan and was drafted by St. Louis in the first round (14th overall) of the 2010 NHL draft.

He is 5-10, 182 and plays on the same line as his older brother Rylan, a sophomore center and the team's other scoriong leader (2-4-6).

Rylan will not play Friday because he received a game disqualification last Saturday, meaning he has to miss the next game. He got a five-minute major for kneeing -- he was part of a dangerous knee to knee hit -- and a game disqualification in the third period.

Also expected to be out is another sophomore center, Scott Winkler, with an undisclosed injury. He is 6-3, 200 and his hometown is Asker, Norway. So CC will have to do some major line juggling Friday.

* Steve Schultz, the right wing on the Schwartz brothers line, had the lone goal in Saturday's game. ... Minnesota State Mankato was 2-for-5 on the power play and also scored a short-handed goal on Friday. The Mavericks wete 0-for-5 on the power play Saturday.

* CC has splilt its last two series, both on the road. All four games were decided by one goal. ... The Tigers play six of their next eight games at home.


* On Gophers' 3-3 start: "We would like to be 4-2 at this point, but we are not. Now we got two more [WCHA] weekends. We have CC this weekend on the road and back home with Wisconsin to try to make up some ground and then we have that week off to recharge. ... Hopefully we can do better than what we did in the first four-game segment [1-3] of the league."

* On Sunday's 2-1 win over the Huskies: "I thought we were more physical. We had tighter gaps. Our play along the walls was much better. And, for the most part, we took care of the puck better, too. When you take care of the puck, you are just not going to give scoring chances to the other team."

* On line combinations: "It is always going to be an on-going deal. Part of it is going to be based on performance. If you are going to play well, you are going to play. And it doesn't matter if you are a senior or a freshman. You have to be held accountable. We sat some guys, older guys, or guys who have been regulars in our lineup this year. Maybe that doesn't help us win a game today but you are hoping thaty motivation with the kids helps you win games down the line. That they will play hard and play well each and every night."

* On first-year defenseman Jake Parenteau, who played in his first game Sunday: "Obviously Jake Parenteau came in and did a really nice job. He got his outlet. He is a 21-year-old freshman. He is not 18 and that experience in a 100-plus junior games showed the way he came in and played. He obviously earned the right to play more." ... Parenteau played high school hockey at Chisago Lakes and was on an Alaska team in the NAHL last season.

* On how to remedy the slow starts in the first three WCHA games: "We've done some things. [Last] weekend we brought them to the rink 15 minutes earlier, we moved up some of their warm-up timesand shut the radio off earlier. Theres really no magic formula. An important part of it is, being smart early. An important stat for a goaltender is, when do you give up that first goal? How many shots? Is it the fifth shot, is it the 15th shot on net before you give up that first goal?

"Everybody has certainly got to do a better job with that. We have taken some early penalties in a couple of these games where they have scored on power play early in the game. When you take penalties early in a game, it takes away any momentum you might have when the game begins. ... That has happened in at least two of the three games we are talking about. We have played four league games and we have given up the first goal in all of them. And that is not a good recipe."