Three keys for the Gophers to beat the Mavericks?
1) Figure out the power play. Minnesota State seemed to have as many good chances to score on the Gophers' power play as they did. The men at the top of the power play need to be more careful how they handle the puck -- no turnovers. The Mavericks are just waiting for breakaway chances.
2) Get the first line going. The day he was the national player of the month for November, sophomore center Nick Bjugstad was pretty quiet (one assist, three shots). Kyle Rau had a couple of chances but couldn't connect and was a minus-1. Zach Budish got on the scoresheet for two penalties. Got to do better.
3) Quicken the pace of the game -- don't let the Mavericks set the tempo. The Gophers have a speed advantage, they need to use it more.
Freshman Christian Isackson is playing in only his fourth game this season. He is taking the place of Sam Warning, another freshman, on the second line but not in the same spot.
Isackson, much bigger than Warning at 6-0, 185, will be center Erik Haula's right wing. That means senior Jake Hansen moves from right wing to left wing, taking Warning's spot.
Isackson has been battling some kind of infection, which made him unavailable to play. But he has some offensive skills. He had 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points for Sioux Falls last season in 58 USHL games.
Warning, 5-8, 180, had three goals and three assists for six points in 16 games. But he had not had a point in his last 10 games and sat out last Saturday's 4-4 tie at Michigan State.
Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... See comments above
Jake Hansen-Erik Haula-Christian isackson ... Haula and Hansen both scored goals on Friday when the Gophers beat the Mavs 4-2. Haula got the game-winner, Hansen the empty-netter at the end.
Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Combined for eight shots. Matson had first goal Friday
Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Nick Larson ... Larson scored on his only shot on Friday.
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl ... Athletic trainer set Holl made a big improvement in strength for this season
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt ... Marshall set up Gophers' second goal Friday
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt ... Schmidt, almost forgotten as a freshman last season, got his 17th assist on Friday on the winning goal
Kent Patterson ... the Gophers one and only goalie this season. Maybe he will get a break during the Mariucci Classic. Gave up what looked like a soft goal on Friday when third pair D-man Evan Mosey beat him from the blue line.
But talked with Patterson and defenseman Jake Parenteau on a short elevator ride after the game. Mosey's shot deflected off Parenteau, Jake admitted. Patterson said he got a piece of the puck, just not enough.