After dabbling into Big Ten conference play for a week, the Gopher men’s hockey team returns home for their second to last non-conference series of the year when the St. Lawrence Saints come into Mariucci Arena for a series this weekend.
The Gopher women will be back in action after a week off last week while Kelly Pannek was off with the US National Team competing at the Four Nations Tournament. The Gophers will play a home and home series against St. Cloud State this weekend.
The Gopher men come into the weekend after splitting their first Big Ten series of the year in Madison. The Gophers won Friday night 3-2 after falling behind 2-0 and scoring three goals in a minute and twenty-one seconds in the second period to take the lead. Saturday night the Gophers fell to the Wisconsin Badgers 3-1 after once again struggling to find the back of the net. It has been a common theme for Minnesota this season as its now the fourth game in their last five where they have only scored a single goal. They have lost all four.
So why have the Gopher men had this issue? No one really knows. This team has lots of scoring potential, but the players they had expected to thrive have struggled to find the net. You can give this team a bit more time to get used to the new system brought in by Bob Motzko, but soon that will not be an excuse that works.
The opposite side of this is that the Gophers looked fairly defensively sound in the series against the Badgers. Each goalie played one game for Minnesota and gave up two goals—Mat Robson got the win on Friday and Eric Schierhorn got the loss on Saturday. Minnesota should be winning games giving up just two goals a game...but they are not.
Hopefully the Gophers can get back on the right track this weekend against a team that arguably is the worst team they have faced this season. It will be the first non-ranked team Minnesota will play in 2018-19, and they get them back at home. St. Lawrence has struggled this season so far with a 1-8 record. Their only win has come against Holy Cross, and they are 0-3 against fellow Big Teams dropping a home contest against the Badgers and getting swept in Ann Arbor by Michigan.
The Saints are giving up nearly four goals a game while scoring only 1.3 per game. They are only 3-27 on the power play this season. They take nearly six penalties a game and give up power play goals 23% of the time. Arthur Brey is the Saints starting goalie and he has been poor giving up 3.75 goals per game and saving 90.7% of the shots he has faced. This is a series Minnesota should sweep. But we all know should isn’t always what happens.
One note to the coverage this weekend is that Saturday’s game will not be on TV. There are several conflicts and it is the only Minnesota/Big Ten controlled game that will not air on TV. However earlier this week the U announced that the game will stream free on Facebook.
HOW TO WATCH
St. Lawrence Saints @ #19 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Where: Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN
When: 7PM Friday, 8PM Saturday
TV: Friday FSN+, Saturday None
Radio: 1130 AM, 103.5 FM, I Heart Radio App
Gopher Women’s Hockey
The Gopher women return to action after a week off. The Gophers like many other top programs took the week off while players were off with their various national teams at the annual Four Nations tournament between the US, Canada, Finland and Sweeten. The US won the tournament as Kelly Pannek had one assist for the US.
This week Minnesota gets back to WCHA play when they play a home and home series against St. Cloud State. Minnesota already swept a home and home series from the Huskies in October. Taylor Heise, Sarah Potomak, Nicole Schammel, Emily Oden, Amy Potomak, Kelly Pannek, and Emily Brown all recorded multiple points in the series against St. Cloud State. Alex Gulstene made 16 saves in the Gophers’ game-one 6-2 win before Sydney Scobee finished with five saves in Minnesota’s 4-1 win in game two. The two wins stretched the Gophers unbeaten streak against the Huskies to 43 games (42-0-1).
Minnesota currently is in first place in the WCHA with 22 points. Wisconsin is in second place with 15 points, but have four games in hand against the Gophers. This series is the Gophers last WCHA series until mid-January. The Gophers will hit the road the next two weekends in non-conference play. Next weekend they will be at the Windjammer Classic hosted by Vermont and will play St. Lawrence and either Vermont or Syracuse. The following weekend they will return out east to play a series at Yale.
Both games this weekend will stream on Flohockey ($$). Live stats and audio are available on gophersports.com for free.