Irish Ice? Not Smiling
Minnesota's quick-strike capabilities once again had a top opponent on its heels early. After jumping then-top-ranked Boston College three times in a span of 11:01 in the first period Sunday, the Gophers solved the CCHA's top goalie, Steve Summerhays, twice in 6:08 in the opening period Tuesday. Those goals, by Nate Condon and Sam Warning, kept the Irish —who had not played in 24 days — from getting their game going. Though Notre Dame responded late in the period the Maroon and Gold was never headed. A terrific effort by Christian Isaakson off a play by A.J. Michaelson in the second produced the eventual game-winner with an insurance marker from Zach Budish in the third.
Hoisting the colors for Team USA: Nice salute to Team USA's gold medal effort at the World Junior Championships in Russia; the Gophers rolled out an enormous (check its size in relationship to the players and fans) American flag during a first period break. Fans held the flag above their heads as it stretched almost all the way across one side of the Mariucci Arena stands. They also provided a lusty standing ovation for the U.S. team, which was represented by Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly and assistant coach Grant Potulny as well as Irish forward Mario Lucia.
Doug McLeod/FOX Sports North
Haula Update: High-scoring Erik Haula, nursing a wrist injury after being tomahawked in the Boston College game, is still on the mend. Insiders say he may be back in time for the North Dakota games Jan. 18-19. Definitely not available this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage, however.
Next up, wolf season: The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves are struggling. Their 3-11-4 overall record includes a 1-10-3 mark in the WCHA. One of those points came in a 2-2 tie against the Gophers at Anchorage Nov. 10.
Scouting the Seawolves: Alaska-Anchorage has been working all season to overcome an anemic offense that averages fewer than two goals per game (1.94). Last weekend that offense exploded, relatively speaking, in a 5-3 loss to Wisconsin at home. The next night it was more true-to-form in a 1-0 loss. Actually, those Friday goals came too little, too late, all in the third period after the Badgers had run up a 4-0 lead.
The Seawolf power play hasn't helped. It clicked last weekend after going scoreless since Nov. 30. Coming to Minneapolis, the power-play numbers aren't encouraging: 6 of 59 for 10.2 percent. (The Wolves do have three shorthanded markers, however).
What scoring Alaska-Anchorage has produced is paced by junior Matt Bailey and freshman Blake Thatchell (each 3-8-11). Sophomore forward Scott Allen leads the goal-scoring list with 7 (7-2-9).
Juniors Rob Gunderson (1-4-4, 2.70) and Chris Kamal (2-7-0, 3.24) have rotated in goal.
Junior forward Brett Cameron is out. He suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 23 against Bemidji State and is on the inactive list.
It's WCHA all the way from now on out as the Gophers shoot for their final McNaughton Cup. Jump aboard for our next telecast, Saturday at 7 p.m., as Kevin Gorg, former Gopher great Tom Chorske and I bring you the Gophers and Alaska-Anchorage on Fox Sports North!