The top-ranked Gophers open up a six-game home stand this weekend by welcoming Minnesota State to Minneapolis. The Mavericks were the surprise team in the WCHA last year and beat the Gophers twice, including once at Mariucci Arena. Gopher players and coach Lucia met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss last week at Notre Dame and what to look for this weekend.
Minnesota State was picked to win the WCHA at the start of this season and they have found recent success in Mariucci. "We are going to have our hands full. They have good team speed. Even though their record is 4-4, I think that is attributed to injuries," Lucia said. The veteran Gophers will know not to take the Mavericks lightly. The last 10 meeting between the two programs have been split evenly.
Last week, the Gophers split a pair of games at Notre Dame. After a disappointing outcome on Friday night, the Gophers responded to collect a victory on Saturday. "I thought we did not have a good push back in the second and third periods," Lucia said, reflecting on Friday night. "I give our guys a lot of credit for rebounding and finding a way to win on Saturday."
This was the first week that freshman were made available to the media. Based off their hot start, they were front and center Wednesday. "For the most part they were all gifted scorers a year ago. That is why we put them in positions to have success," Lucia said. The freshman accounted for all five goals Saturday at Notre Dame.
The freshmen themselves were quick to say how the
upperclassmen have helped them learn the finer points of the college game. Hudson
Fasching has been the star of the freshman class to this point. He has 11
points on the season, which ranks second on the team. From the start of the
season Hudson has been on the score sheet playing alongside Kyle Rau and Sam
Warning, "I have worked hard and I am on a pretty good line right now,"
Fasching said. (Rau and Warning) have been tremendous, they are great leaders."
The freshmen themselves were quick to say how the upperclassmen have helped them learn the finer points of the college game. Hudson Fasching has been the star of the freshman class to this point. He has 11 points on the season, which ranks second on the team. From the start of the season Hudson has been on the score sheet playing alongside Kyle Rau and Sam Warning, "I have worked hard and I am on a pretty good line right now," Fasching said. (Rau and Warning) have been tremendous, they are great leaders."
Fellow freshman Justin Kloos' strong work ethic has been acclaimed by upperclassmen this year. Justin has stepped into the second-line center role and has posted 10 points so far. "The older guys and captains have led the way and allowed us to show what we are capable of," Kloos said.
Kloos' line mate Taylor Cammarata has nine points in his last six games. He played with Kloos with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL last year, and it has helped his comfort level as a Gopher. "It took us a little time last year to get used to each other. It clicked about ten games in, and it has been clicking ever since," Cammarata said.
Both of this weekend's games at Mariucci will start at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen live on FSN Plus. Friday's game can be heard on 1500 ESPN, and Saturday you can hear Wally and Frank on MyTalk 107.1.
Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
No. 1 Minnesota returns to action this week with a trip to South Bend, Ind. to take on No. 3/4 Notre Dame. Minnesota staff and players met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss this weekend's difficult-road test after last weekend's bye.
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia believes the bye week came at a good time for the Gophers.
"(The bye week) was good for us. We did have a few guys that would not have been able to play and they are close to 100% now."
Senior captain Nate Condon believes the team is recharged after the week off.
"A bye week always gives guys time to hang out and rest. It gives you time to recover and bring back that fresh lineup."
The Gophers will need a fresh lineup against a Notre Dame team that has won 11-straight games at home dating back to last year. "This is a veteran group," Lucia said. "They are very disciplined and pride themselves on defense, so it will be a really good test for us."
In the last ten years, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the nation's premier college hockey programs. Over the last few seasons, the Irish and Gophers have developed a healthy rivalry.
"They have a lot of talented players. Every time we play them it is something to look forward to and one of those games you circle on the schedule," Condon said.
Coach Lucia's son, Mario, is a forward for the Irish, but coach will try not to approach this weekend any differently. "No family reunions. It is a business trip." Father and son did face-off last year at Mariucci Arena with the Gophers coming out on top.
Gopher defenseman Mike Reilly is also very familiar with Mario Lucia. The childhood friends roomed together two years ago as members of the Penticton Vees.
"It is definitely going to be a fun experience," Mike Reilly said. "I am looking forward to competing against him."
Friday's game is at 7:00 p.m. CT can be seen on the NBC Sports Network. Saturday's contest will start at 6:00 p.m. CT and will be streamed online at NBCsports.com.
-Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
The Don Lucia Radio Show returns to the airwaves of 1500 ESPN for the 2013-14 season, airing live on Mondays during the year from the Beacon Public House inside the Commons Hotel on campus.
Join Coach Lucia and co-hosts Wally Shaver and Jeff Dubay on Mondays throughout the season with each show airing live on 1500 ESPN from 6-6:30 p.m. CT.
This week, the Don Lucia Radio Show looks ahead to the upcoming weekend's series at No. 3/4 Notre Dame as well as looking back on the Gophers' bye weekend that included a special event with Minnesota Hockey and the Hendrickson Foundation.
For the second-season in a row, Beacon Public House will host a live viewing of the Don Lucia Radio Show with food and drink specials every Monday night for Gopher Hockey fans. Learn more about Beacon Public House here.
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