So, I can't say that I was terribly surprised by the outcome of this game. But I guess I'm a bit disappointed. I was really hoping that some good things would come out of this game, but there aren't really any bright, shiny things to talk about. I'm also not about to hit the panic button based on one disappointing game.
Honestly, since this is kind of what I expected, I just can't get too worked-up, even though I would prefer games like this to still end in wins rather than losses.
The Freshmen are Fresh, Or Maybe They're Raw...
So a couple of things are evident with the new group of Gophers. First, they can skate. There is a lot of team speed here, and that bodes well for the future.
Second, They have not played together very much. The team's passing percentage, a number I don't have available, had to have been really, really low. They executed passes poorly: passing too soft, knee-high flutterers, limp noodle backhands. It was bad.
What's worse is some of the decisions. The Catamounts first goal was set up by a neutral zone turnover that was a pass to literally nobody (unless you count Vermont's defenseman as somebody).
Speaking of the Neutral Zone...
The neutral zone was horrific for the Gophers all night. This is a result of the poor passing and decision making. Trouble in the neutral zone is a poison pill for offense, because if you can't get through the center of the ice, you're not going to play offense.
I don't expect a team that skates as well as the Gophers to struggle with this all year. Building chemistry between linemates should solve the problem, but I hope they get it figured out quickly, because Minnesota-Duluth will massacre this team next weekend if they can't enter the offensive zone.
Chemistry Just Isn't There Yet
The lack of chemistry affected the whole game, but it was probably most obvious during the Gophers' four power plays. Vermont mostly played a very passive box, unless they spotted a player vulnerable to pressure. To beat this strategy, you need to make quick passes and move with the puck to pull a defender out of the box and open up some passing lanes.
The Gophers didn't really do either of those things. They had sometimes comical space to work with, but instead of using their feet to pull a defender out of position, they mostly just passed around the perimeter. I think there were to PPs where they didn't even get a shot on net.
Scheirhorn Plays Well
Freshman goalie Eric Scheirhorn played well in his first collegiate action. The two goals he allowed were not great, but one of them was practically an own-goal by Ryan Collins, and on the other he made the initial save but the puck crawled up over his shoulder. He also made 24 saves and looked confident most of the game. Not a bad first start for a freshman.