The Gophers captured the 2013 Ice Breaker this weekend at Mariucci Arena with victories over Mercyhurst and New Hampshire. Here is what we learned from the Gophers' first weekend:
Scoring Depth Looks Good
Coach Lucia said leading into the weekend that he didn't think the team has a 25-goal scorer this season, but he believed the team has more scoring depth than last year. Based on this week's results, he was right. The nine total goals scored this weekend by Minnesota came from eight different skaters. This accomplishment was even more impressive considering all four forward lines chipped in and two defensemen found the back of the net. In total, 14 different Gophers registered at least a point this weekend, including Justin Holl who assisted on two goals from his natural defensive position after playing forward last season.
These Freshmen Can Play
The most impressive young forward was Hudson Fasching. He combined with Kyle Rau and Sam Warning to create the Gophers' dangerous line during the Ice Breaker. Hudson showed play-making ability and speed to burn this weekend en-route to posting his first career goal and a pair of assists. Fasching is in the power-forward mold and he displayed no fear in going right to the net on many occasions. He was named to the 2013 Ice Breaker All-Tournament Team.
Justin Kloos sparkled on Friday night against Mercyhurst. He displayed allusiveness on the rush and scored a power-play goal in the second period. Vinni Lettieri earned praise from coach Lucia for his energy and scored the game-winning goal against New Hampshire. Defensively, two Gophers got their first taste of college hockey. Michael Brodzinski scored Friday night in his first game and Jake Bischoff earned key ice time as the Gophers were protecting a one-goal lead late Saturday night.
Wilcox Continues to Shine
Heading into the season, the area the Gophers felt the most confident about was goaltending. Sophomore Adam Wilcox demonstrated why this weekend. On Friday, Wilcox made 25 saves against the Lakers to pick up the fourth shutout of his career. On Saturday, he made the timely save again continuing the trend from last year. New Hampshire's Dalton Speelman thought he had tied the game with seven seconds left until Wilcox robbed him with a miraculous glove save. Adam would be the first to give the defense a lot of credit for how they preformed in front of him this weekend. The Gophers did not give up a goal all weekend at full strength.
What Needs Work:
No game is perfect, especially at the beginning of the season. The Gophers will be working on special teams during practice this week. The power play features a lot of new faces playing in new roles and looks like it will take time for everything to click. After the power play succeeded twice on Friday, it went 0-6 Saturday night and failed to generate many quality chances. The penalty kill also proved to be a weak point during the second period of Saturday's game. New Hampshire's two goals came with the man advantage and both came, in part, because Minnesota penalty killers gave the puck away cheaply in their own zone. The other area where the team will look for improvement is in the face-off dot. It may take time with a pair of new centers in the top six.
Minnesota travels to Bemidji State next weekend to take on the Beavers. The trip will give us a first look at how this under-sized team will fare on an NHL-sized rink. Bemidji State will certainly try to take away the Gophers speed advantage. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes are made to the Gophers lineup as the team searches to find what players will develop the best chemistry. The Beavers lost and tied this weekend at St. Cloud State and are working in many new faces to their lineup.
Story By University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock