What? Mens' hockey, already?
Yes, mens' hockey, already, for the Gophers. Of Minnesota. This year at The Daily Gopher you can expect mens' hockey coverage. Katie, bar my door.
We pick up the Gopher mens' hockey team coverage a few days after their 6-1 exhibition victory over British Columbia. The Gophers are attempting to rebound from a 17-13-7 record, a fifth-place finish in the WCHA, and being on the outside looking in at tournament time. There is, as usual, a great influx of talent for the Gophers this year. Can the young guys plug the gaps? We're going to start today with a look at the goaltenders, then on Monday (October 12th), we'll evaluate the defense, and on Wednesday (October 14th) the front line gets a look. Then, next Friday, you'll get a little preview of the series in Grand Forks against the, er, do we still call them the Sioux?
The Presumed Starter: Alex Kangas
Kangas sat out the exhibition game on Sunday with (an undisclosed form of) influenza. He followed up his record setting freshmen season, in which he posted a 1.98 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. However, the Rochester native's performance dipped last year with the team. He posted a 2.79 goals against average and a .902 save percentage, and gave up 7 short handed goals. It's the way most high-level college hockey teams have to live now with the NHL predators hovering, but Minnesota again will be a young team, and Kangas will have to exhibit leadership and the statistical prowess of his freshman year for this team to return to form in 2009-10.
The Backups: Kent Patterson and Jake Kremer.
Sophomore Patterson is a Plymouth native who went to the Blake School. He adequately acquitted himself last year in seven appearances, though he did not overly impress. That continued this past Sunday, where he gave up one goal on eight shots. Kremer, also a sophomore, is an Eden Prairie native who did not appear last year, but played twenty minutes on Sunday, successfully repelling two shots in the third period.
The Skinny: If Kangas channels his freshman form, and Patterson continues his development, the Gophers should have a solid, stable set of netminders. Nothing to remind you of Stauber or Moen, but competence in college goaltending is normally enough for a successful season.
Coming Monday - The Gopher Hockey Defense.