Wednesday Roundup: Gophers Talk North Dakota, Playing at Home and Shutouts

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The Gophers met with the media today and talked about this week's upcoming games against rival North Dakota. They also talked about Kent Patterson's four shutouts and how it will be nice to play UND at home instead of on the road.
Go Gophers! Lucia
Go Gophers!
Don Lucia says the Gophers are ready for North Dakota this weekend.
Go Gophers!

Coach Don Lucia

"These are the kinds of weekends you want to play if you're an athlete. I've always told guys that you can judge your players and your team a lot in the big rivalry games because these are for men only. You sit back in these environments and you want to see who can perform. We're going to have some young guys out there in key situations and it's going to be interesting to see how they can perform. Same thing with North Dakota, they have a lot of young players this year, too."

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad

"We're excited about North Dakota coming in this weekend. They're going to bring everything they got, so we're going to have to be ready. North Dakota's always a good school, so we'll get to see where we're at."

Redshirt sophomore Zach Budish:

"We're excited to play North Dakota. It's always a battle when we play them. We're all looking forward to Friday and Saturday night. It should be a fun series and a good test for us. It'll be a tough game. They've got some big defensemen. Their top line of [Danny] Kristo, [Corban] Knight, and [Brock] Nelson are three very good players. That will probably be the best line we've played against early in the season. We have to contain them and use all four lines and six defensemen in our lineup to take away their time and space and use our depth to score some goals and play a solid 60 minutes.

"It's huge. It's North Dakota-Minnesota. There's not really much else to say. They won the regular season and the playoffs last year, so they're the team to beat right now in the league. We're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we'll keep out momentum going and take it into November."

Senior captain Taylor Matson:

"They're a huge rival of ours. We look for these games down the road on the schedule. It's something we look for and it's going to be wild here at home. Getting ready for North Dakota, I can't even put into words. It's just something when you're skating in warmups and you're looking over at them and you see the green.

Nice To Play At Home

Nine of the last 11 meetings between the Gophers and North Dakota have been in Grand Forks, N.D., including the last five.

The last time that the two rivals met at Mariucci Arena was Jan. 15-16, 2010. The teams tied the first night 3-3 and the Gophers won the second meeting 5-1.

"The way the schedule has worked the last few years a majority of the games have been in North Dakota," said coach Don Lucia. "I know our fans are going to be excited and our players are going to be, too. It's always a great rivalry, but we're looking forward to having some games at Mariucci with them."

Surprise Shutouts?

Goaltender Kent Patterson has recorded four shutouts in his first eight games this season as the Gophers are off to a 7-1-0 start. The senior, who did not have a collegiate shutout prior to this year, said that even he is surprised at the success he has had to begin the season.
"I have to say that I am quite surprised," said Patterson. "Prior to this year I did not have a shutout in my collegiate career and even going back to juniors I did not have four in the two years that I played so it is surprising."

Patterson, who has a 1.74 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage was quick to praise his teammates for his success this year.  

"The guys have been doing a great job blocking shots and we have been playing good overall team defense," he said. "No one person gets a shutout. Whenever there is a shutout it is a team shutout and the team gets credit for it."

The people who are not surprised about Patterson's early-season success this year are his teammates.

"He works hard every single day," said senior captain Taylor Matson. "Kent's always looking to get better and he's the backbone of our team. If he can keep doing what he's doing, he's going to be something special this year."

Alternate captain Zach Budish agreed.

"He took last year's momentum right into this year and started the year with two shutouts," said Budish. "He's been rolling and he's given us a chance to win every night and I think that's the biggest thing. We don't want him to have to make 40 saves every night, but he has the ability to do it, like you saw up in Duluth. He's a great goalie."

Patterson made a career-high 46 saves in back-to-back wins against defending national champion Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 14-15. 

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