Season Overview: Minnesota posted a 28-14-1 record this year and went 20-8-0 in the WCHA to win the MacNaughton Cup. The Gophers qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years and made their 33rd NCAA tournament appearance at the NCAA West Regional in at the Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota advanced to its 20th NCAA Frozen Four--but first since 2005--with wins against Boston University and North Dakota in the regional. The Gophers season came to an end with a loss to eventual national champion Boston College in the national semifinals.
In The Polls: Minnesota finished the season ranked No. 4 in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. The Gophers, who advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four and ended the year with a 28-14-1 record, began the season ranked No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll and were unranked in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Minnesota spent two weeks at No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll this year and four combined weeks at No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. The Gophers spent a combined 18 weeks ranked in the top five in the USCHO.com poll this season and a combined 20 weeks as a top-five team in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Minnesota was ranked in the top 10 in both polls since Oct. 17 and spent
MacNaughton Cup Champions: With a 2-1 win against Wisconsin on March 3, the Gophers claimed sole possession of their 13th WCHA regular season championship and 12th MacNaughton Cup. Minnesota finished the regular season with a 20-8-0 WCHA record and 40 points, which was three points more than Minnesota Duluth (16-7-5 record). The Gophers won the title for the first time since 2006-07. Minnesota has now won three of the last seven MacNaughton Cups, as they also won the Cup in 2005-06 (20-5-3 WCHA record) and in 2006-07 (18-7-3 WCHA record).
NCAA West Regional Recap: Minnesota beat Boston University (7-3) and North Dakota (5-2) in the NCAA West Regional at Xcel Energy Center to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four. The Gophers beat North Dakota on March 25, which was five years to the day that North Dakota beat Minnesota 3-2 in overtime in the 2007 NCAA West Regional Final in Denver.
Minnesota Nice: The Gophers finished the regular season with a 9-1-0 record against Minnesota schools. They were 2-0-0 against Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State and 3-1-0 against St. Cloud State. The Gophers outscored their in-state rivals by a combined score of 37-20. Minnesota posted shutouts against St. Cloud State and Bemidji State and beat Minnesota Duluth in overtime.
Two Named All American: Kent Patterson and Nick Bjugstad were named Second-Team All-American. They are the first Gophers to be named to an All-American team since forward Ryan Stoa received first-team honors in 2009. The last Gopher to be named to the second team was Thomas Vanek in 2004. This year is the first time that Minnesota has had two players honored since 2004 when Keith Ballard was named to the first team and Vanek was on the second team.
All-WCHA Teams: Minnesota had four players named to an All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association team this season. Senior Kent Patterson and sophomore Nick Bjugstad were named to the All-WCHA First Team, while sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt was named to All-WCHA Second Team. Freshman Kyle Rau was named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team. Patterson also won the WCHA Goaltending Champion title with a 2.06 goals-against average while playing 1659:41 in 28 league games. In addition, Minnesota placed 15 student-athletes on the 2011-12 All-WCHA Academic Team.
Just Wins: The Gophers went 28-14-1 this year. The 28 wins are the most for Minnesota since it went 31-10-3 in 2006-07. Minnesota was second in the nation with 28 wins (Boston College led with 33, while Ferris State, Union and North Dakota all finished behind Minnesota with 26). The Gophers were 20-8-0 in the WCHA this year. The 20 WCHA wins are the most that the Gophers have had since they went 20-5-3 in 2005-06. The Gophers did not tie a single WCHA game this year. It was the first time since the 1997-98 season (12-16-0 in the WCHA) that Minnesota did not tie a WCHA game. The last time that Minnesota tied only one game all season was the 2004-05 season (team went 28-15-1 that year).
Saturday Night Success: Minnesota was 16-3-1 on Saturdays this year. The Gophers went 13-1-0 in WCHA regular-season games on Saturdays. Minnesota's final Saturday loss was its only Saturday WCHA loss, a 4-3 overtime defeat in Denver on Feb. 11.
Home Ice: The Gophers went 17-6-0 at Mariucci Arena this season and closed the year by winning seven of their last eight home games. It is the first time that the Gophers won 17 home games since they went 17-4-1 in 2005-06. The most games that Minnesota has won in one season at the current Mariucci Arena is 18 (1995-96, 2000-01 and 2001-02).
Four With 40: Erik Haula, Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad and Nate Schmidt all scored 40 or more points this year. Haula led the Gophers with 49 (20g-29a) in 43 games and recorded the most points for Minnesota since Phil Kessel had 51 points in 39 games in 2005-06. Kyle Rau had 43 points (18g-25a) this season, which was the most by a Gopher freshman since Jordan Schroeder had 45 points in 2008-09. Nick Bjugstad finished with 42 points (25g-17a) this season and became the first Gopher to score 25 goals in one season since Ryan Potulny had 38 in 2005-06. Nate Schmidt ended the season with 41 points (3g-38a) this year. His 38 assists are the six most ever by a Gopher blueliner in a single season. Haula, Rau, Bjugstad and Schmidt gave the Gophers four 40-point scorers for the first time since the 2002-03 season when Thomas Vanek (62 points), Troy Riddle (52), Keith Ballard (41), and Matt Koalska (40) all hit 40 points.
Seven With 30: Minnesota had seven players--Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau, Nate Schmidt, Jake Hansen, Zach Budish and Nate Condon--who have scored at least 30 points this season. It is the first time since the 2001-02 season that the Gophers have had seven players reach 30 points. That year John Pohl, Jeff Taffe, Jordan Leopold, Troy Riddle, Paul Martin, Grant Potulny and Matt Koalska all had at least 30 points.
Patterson Sets Records: Kent Patterson's 28 wins were the most by a Gopher since Robb Stauber won 34 games in 1987-88. Patterson won games against 10 different WCHA teams (Denver being the exception). He set a single-season school record and tied for the national lead in shutouts with seven this year. Patterson played in 43 games (tied for second all-time in one season) and played 2556:11 (second all-time in one season). His 2.32 goals-against average is third all-time in a single season, while his 966 saves rank fifth. He finished his career first in Minnesota history in save percentage (.913) and tied for first in goals-against average at 2.45 (Kellen Briggs also had a 2.45 career goals-against average in 132 games from 2003-07). Patterson's seven shutouts place him tied for third all-time in career shutouts.
Close Encounters: The Gophers were 28-14-1 on the season. Of their 14 defeats, nine were by one goal (including two in overtime). Four of the other setbacks were by two and three goals, respectively. The Gophers lost 3-1 at Wisconsin on Nov. 11 and 5-3 at Denver on Feb. 11. They also lost 4-1 to Wisconsin on March 2 and 6-3 to North Dakota on March 16. Minnesota played in 20 one-goal games this year and was 11-9-0 in those games (won seven of its last eight one-goal games). The 20 one-goal games is a season record (previous was 18 during the 2006-07 season).
No. 1 Offense: Minnesota ended the year as the highest-scoring team in the nation. The Gophers averaged 3.60 goals-per-game and edged out Minnesota Duluth (3.59) as the nation's most dangerous offense. The Gophers led the country with 155 goals (Boston College was second with 153). The 155 goals were the most by a Gopher team since they tallied 161 goals in 44 games during 2006-07. Minnesota's defensemen led the nation with 111 points.
First And Third: Minnesota dominated the first and third periods this season, outscoring opponents 44-22 in the first period and 56-27 in the third period. Overall, Minnesota scored 155 goals this season and gave up 99.
Youth Movement: Minnesota's freshman and sophomore classes dominated the stat sheet this year, as seven of the nine players who have 20 or more points have either freshman or sophomore eligibility. The Gophers had 417 points this year (155g-262a) and the freshmen (91 points) and sophomores (241 points) combined to score 332 points (79.6 percent).