The Gophers will need to turn it on if they are going to finish high in the WCHA standings. Something they have not done the past three seasons when Minnesota has finished seventh, fifth and seventh. Currently, the Gophers are tied for sixth place with Colorado College in a conference which has expanded from 10 to 12 teams this season.

Looking at last season's record and individual statistics, the record is about the same and most veterans are performing at the same level.

Not real encouraging signs.

After 22 games, here is where the Gophers were in 2010 and are now:

                    Overall               WCHA

2010         11-10-1                6-7-1

2011          10-9-3                  7-7-2


A look at the forwards' scoring stats last season and this season:

Gone: Center Jordan Schroeder (4-11-15 thru 22 games) turned pro. Right wing Zach Budish (4-3-7) is out after season-ending knee surgery. Both were on the top line in 2010. The left wing on that line was Jacob Cepis (2-1-3). He became eligible at midseason a year ago after missing the first 18 games.

Graduated: Mike Carman, Tony Lucia and Ryan Flynn. Biggest loss was Lucia (5-12-17).

Still here:

                                    2010             2011

Jay Barriball             2-2-4          11-11-22 ... had great start this season, but scoring has dropped off; hurt most of 2010

Jacob Cepis             2-1-3            7-12-19   ... second leading scorer, second in shots with 72, offers lots of energy

Mike Hoeffel           10-7-17           9-8-17    ... solid numbers, not spectacular, low-scoring U needs more from him

Jake Hansen           5-2-7              6-5-11   ...  getting a few tips and rebounds around net

Nick Larson              2-2-4             3-2-5      ... fast, but needs to score more if he stays on second line

Nico Sacchetti          4-7-11           3-4-7     ... often plays on fourth line, making some big hits     

Taylor Matson           3-3-6             6-3-9     ...  doubled goals from 2010, but one point in last nine games   

Patrick White             5-5-10           1-0-1     ...  former 1st rd. draft pick has bit role on team as senior

Joe Miller                                                        ... rarely plays

The skinny: Barriball's and Cepis' numbers are way up because they have played 17 and 18 more games than last season. Otherwise, the other six returning forwards have shown little improvement in their offensive numbers. Matson got hot for a short stretch, but he has cooled down.

The new forwards: 

Erik Haula       3-13-16  ... Wild draft pick, doing well setting up wings, coaches want him to score more 

Nick Bjugstad   2-3-5    ... accelerated academically to play at U, back at C on second line, has struggled                            

Nate Condon   5-5-10  ... five points in one game, five in other 20; switched from center to wing recently 

Max Gardiner    1-1-2   ... played 13 games, not contributed much to offense 

Tom  Serratore  1-2-3 ... plus-4, fourth-line wing expected to be big checker, only two penalties

Jared Larson      0-0-0  ... walk-on who has played in only 7 games

Nate Schmidt     0-1-1  ... playing mostly wing after starting season as D-man

The skinny: What looked like a strong freshmen class has quite frankly not done that much. Only Haula has contributed significantly on offense.


Gone: Freshman Nick Leddy turned pro rather than come back for his sophomore season. David Fischer and Brian Schack graduated.

Still here:

                                    2010             2011

Aaron Ness              1-6-7             0-9-9   ... moving the puck better, a plus-6, nice moves, can't score a goal

Cade Fairchild         1-9-10          3-8-11 ... team-high 41 blocks, had rough start to season

Kevin Wehrs             2-5-7             1-7-8  ... 36 shots, only one less than Ness, Fairchild

Seth Helgeson         0-0-0             1-4-5   ... big body, coaches want him to be physical force

The skinny: Not much change is there? Only Helgeson is scoring a bit more but he could only go up. Nobody on D-corps scares opponents

The new defensemen:

 Justin Holl                 1-2-3  ... lean 6-2 forward but not mean yet; making big jump from high school puck

Mark Alt                       1-2-3  ... has played in 21 of 22 games, has had bad and good moments, likes to hit

Jake Parenteau        0-0-0 ... has rarely played

The skinny: Couple players with promise.


                                                  2010                                 2011

Kent Patterson             2-3-1, 2.57, .918                    8-4-3, 2.56, .916                 

Alex Kangas                 9-7-0, 2.59, .910                     2-5-0, 3.82, .892

The skinny: Patterson has without question been the Gophers' MVP so far this season. He has given the team stability in the nets.

What's hard to believe is, Patterson's goals-against average and save percentage are almost identical to last season's through 22 games. Yet his record has improved from 2-3-1 to 8-4-3.

With Kangas out after season-ending hip surgery, Patterson is the key to the Gophers making a late run this season. He has to be steady and hold most opponents to two, three goals. Then the Gophers have a chance to win some of those games and maybe get on a roll.

A couple of players also have to start scoring consistently. If that doesn't happen, a team which has finished in the middle of the WCHA standings will find itself there again, battling for home ice until the end.