Members of the men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday ahead of this weekend's home-and-home series with Minnesota State. Here is a sampling of what they had to say:
Defenseman Nate Schmidt is a fan of how the home-and-home series is scheduled this weekend, "I like the way it is setup, having a Friday home game. We are trying to cure this first-game jitters bug. It is good to start at home instead of on the road."
Both Schmidt and head coach Don Lucia offered some insight into the challenges the Mavericks will present the Gophers.
"The are good. They have a lot of older guys with junior experience. I played with Matt Leitner, Chase Grant, and Corey Lievermann, so I am familiar with some of there guys having played with and against them. (Minnesota State) has some good skill," Schmidt said.
Lucia agreed with his junior defenseman. He added that he expects to see a much better team then the one the Gophers swept last season, "Last year, they had devastating injuries early in the year. Their top players are all returning. Chase Grant missed all of last season, he is one of their better players. I think they have a really deep and talented group of forwards."
Lucia is very familiar with Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings, who previously was an assistant coach for the Gophers, "I think I recruited him a bit when he was with the Rochester Mustangs, but he did not want to go to Alaska. He has a real passion for coaching. It is a pretty seamless transition for him right now after all of his years in the USHL."
After posting one goal on Sunday against Canisius, some are wondering where the Gophers offense went. "Those things are going to correct themselves, but we have to get more traffic in front of the net and bang home some rebounds. We got a couple of tipped goals this last weekend, which shows that we are getting to those dirty areas. It is an on-going battle to get to those hard areas," Schmidt said.
With Sam Warning out with an injury, look for Ben Marshall to continue playing forward this weekend as he did Sunday against Canisius.
"I said at the beginning of the year that we have a surplus of defenseman, and we want are best 18 skaters playing. (Marshall) did a lot of good things and that was without a practice. (Marshall) has talent and he can skate. We feel this move makes us better for the time being," Lucia said.
The Gophers will host the Mavericks at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. The Mavericks will return the favor on Saturday.
Story by Minnesota Communication Intern Josh Brennock