A Sound Defensive Game
Under returning associate head coach Mike Guentzel, the Gopher defensive corps looked to be much improved overall. Tonight's group of Seth Helgeson, Justin Holl, Mark Alt, Ben Marshall, Jake Parenteau, Blake Thompson, and Chris Student help hold British Columbia zero shots on goal in the first period.
More Improvement on the Blueline
The defensemen were also aggressive offensively, making several rushes into the offensive zone. The Gophers attempted a lot of shots from the point and players like Mark Alt, Justin Holl, Ben Marshall, and Chris Student were not afraid to carry the puck deep into the offensive zone.
Filling the Aaron Ness Void
Speaking of Marshall, the Mahtomedi-native looked like a valid replacement for Aaron Ness on the blueline. Though he is one of the team's smallest defenders, he showed that he can make up for his lack of size with quick bursts on the backcheck and good defensive anticipation. He also showed the ability to make opponents miss while making rushes up the ice and displayed his superb vision with a couple blueline-to-blueline passes.
Jacob Cepis was good goal-scorer and a pesky player to deal with last year--certainly a player who will be hard to replace. However, two of the Gophers' freshman forwards, Kyle Rau and Sam Warning, showed some promising similarities to Cepis tonight. Both players showed a fearlessness that will help them deal with the physical WCHA style of play as well as a few signs of playmaking ability. Warning tallied two assists, including one on Jake Hansen's game-winning goal.
Though they weren't tested much, the Minnesota goaltenders showed they will be up to the task this season. Kent Patterson wasn't phased by the absence of shots faced in the first period and stopped all three shots he faced, while Mike Shibrowski turned way all seven Thunderbird shots that came his way. The highlight of the night between the pipes was Shibrowski's save on a Cole Wilson one-timer in the second period that forced the Colorado College transfer to move quickly across the crease. Shibrowski finished the night with seven saves.