Observations from Minnesota's 6-2 Win Over Michigan Tech

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Catch Your Breath
For the first time since the 1990-91 season, Minnesota played 20 or more games before Christmas. Similar to that season, the this year's Gophers had no weeks off between the start of the season and Winter Break. In 1990-91, UM was 15-2-3 in the first half with a 12-1-3 record in WCHA play. This year, the Gophers are 14-5-1 with an 11-3-0 conference ledger. Minnesota is also 8-1-1 in its last 10 games leading into the mid-season break.

Turning It Around
After three seasons of not reaching the NCAA Tournament, it was important that the a youthful Gophers squad (18 underclassmen on a 27-man roster) got off to a good start in 2011-12. With a first-place standing in the WCHA (tied with Minnesota-Duluth) and a top-two national ranking though the first half of the year, they have done just that.

Some of the factors that have led to the Gophers' success have been their play at home, their ability to hold a lead, strong goaltending, and an all-important resiliency that has led to a 8-0-1 Saturday record. Kent Patterson, who has started all 20 games, set a school record with six shutouts and has plenty of time to build on that. The Gophers are also 10-0-0 when leading entering the third period, thanks in large part to a 34-10 scoring margin in the final frame.

Alt-ernative Scoring
Sophomore defenseman Mark Alt had one of the best weekend's of his career against Michigan Tech. After notching a goal and an assist on Friday, Alt scored the Gophers' game-winning goal on Saturday and added two assists to complete a five-point week. He now leads Minnesota defensemen in goals with four and has nine assists. 

Nate Schmidt, who had three assists in the first-half finale, leads Gopher blueliners in points with 21 (1g-20a). Seth Helgeson, who scored on Friday picked up an assist against the Huskies on Saturday. He now has eight points (3g-5a) on the year.

Changing It Up
After losing to Michigan Tech for the first time in eight meetings on Friday, the Gophers changed up their fourth line. Tom Serratore, Travis Boyd, and Nick Larson (flu) were taken out and Christian Isackson, Nico Sacchetti, and assistant captain Joey Miller were put in. It was Miller's 2011-12 debut. The new line combo created numerous chances and maintained good pressure on the forecheck, an effort that finally paid off when Joey Miller scored his first goal since Jan. 2, 2009.

Also, back in the lineup was freshman defenseman Blake Thompson. Thompson replaced Jake Parenteau as Nate Schmidt's defensive partner. Thompson was ejected with 2:43 left in the second period for a hit to the head on MTU's David Johnstone.

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