Wow. That was fun. I would have said that had it ended in a tie, or if the Gophers hadn't tied the game late in regulation. But Minnesota won a good ol' fashioned shoot-out against the defending champs in their barn 5-4 in overtime. Sure it's just one game, but that's a great way to start conference play. The Gophs went toe to toe with a talented team and came out with a victory, and you can't help but be excited about this team if you watched this one.
I mean, that was just a really fun hockey game to watch. Minnesota Gophers? Fun? Yep, if you're a Gopher football fan or Vikings fan or a Minnesotan who would like a fun team to cheer for, this just might be for you. The Gophers and Bulldogs went end-to-end all night long in one of the most exciting hockey games-college or pro- that I've seen in awhile. Offense? Um yeah. The two teams combined for around 9,000 shots and almost that many chances. OK slight exaggeration, but only slightly- UMD outshot the Gophs 50-44. That's a combined NINETY FOUR SHOTS! And not in the two game series, but one game! Good thing Kent Patterson is amazing, as he kept Minnesota in it with some spectacular saves, and UMD goalie Kenny Reiter was great too.
Second line center Eric Haula led the way with two goals and an assist, first-line center Nick Bjugstad and winger Nate Condon each had two points, with Condon potting the game winner on a ridiculous play where he corralled a high centering pass from captain Taylor Matson and knocked it out of mid-air on the bounce into the back of the net. Just crazy, which went right along with the entire night. The Gopher player that'll get the most attention though was freshman Kyle Rau, who netted two goals and just seemed to be everywhere at once. His hockey IQ is so high, especially for a freshman, and you can see why Don Lucia and the coaches were so excited to get him. The Gophers got offense and chances from their three top lines, which is a trend I would love to see continue.
Defense? Not so much. That's one thing a Gopher football fan would be right at home seeing, the Maroon and Gold playing no D. It's early in the year, so better defense is still to come (we hope), but for tonight, that was a fun night of hockey that ended in a Gopher victory, hopefully the first of many. I've said "fun" and "hope" a lot tonight, and I've said them both about a Minnesota Gopher team. It's just one game, but I could get used to this.
Game two Saturday night. Buckle up.