Gophers Kick Off WCHA Play This Weekend at Michigan Tech
Oct. 17, 2012
The University of Minnesota opens Western Collegiate Hockey Association play this weekend with a two-game series at Michigan Tech. The 2012-13 season marks the Gophers' final campaign in the WCHA with this weekend's series serving as Minnesota's final regular-season series against the Huskies. The Gophers lead the all-time series against Michigan Tech 172-77-15 including an 8-2-0 mark in the last 10 meetings.
Last Time Out
Minnesota opened the 2012-13 season with an impressive nonconference sweep over then-No. 16 Michigan State last weekend at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers topped the Spartans 5-1 on Friday night and closed out the weekend with a 7-1 win on Saturday night. Seventeen of Minnesota's 20 skaters that saw the ice over the weekend tallied a point including Zach Budish, who closed out the weekend with four assists, and Nick Bjugstad, who notched both game winners and added an assist.
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia is one win away from the 600-victory plateau. Lucia -- in his 26th year as a Division I head coach -- currently sits with a 599-328-83 career record and a 320-173-54 record with the Gophers. With one more win, Lucia would become the 10th coach in NCAA history to win 600 games and the ninth to do so exclusively as a Division I head coach.
Gophers in the Polls
Minnesota currently sits alone atop both the USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll. The Gophers entered the season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and continue to hold that position with 30 of 32 first-place votes and 507 total points. Minnesota also overtook Boston College in the USCHO.com poll with 46 of 50 first-place votes and 991 total points.
Bjugstad Earns WCHA Honors
After recording three points over the weekend including both game winners over the Spartans, junior forward Nick Bjugstad was named this week's Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week. The honor was Bjugstad's second such award from the league and fourth overall honor from the WCHA. Shibrowski Worth the Wait In his first start as a Gopher, Michael Shibrowski didn't disapoint. The junior stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced and carried a shutout nearly 56 minutes before surrendering a goal. The win was Shibrowski's first as a Gopher and his first collegiate win since Feb. 6, 2010 when he made 31 saves to top Mercyhurst 5-3 as a goalie for Colorado College. Friday was Shibrowski's fourth career appearance (two with the Tigers and one last year -- a five-save performance in 20 minutes of action against Wisconsin on March 3, 2012).
Wilcox Answers the Call
Freshman Adam Wilcox also picked up his first win in net for the Gophers over the weekend. The rookie netminder made 10 saves on 11 shots on Saturday to improve to 1-0-0 as a Gopher.
Isackson Stays Hot
After being held scoreless in 11 games as a freshman last year, Christian Isackson is wasting no time finding the net in 2012-13. The sophomore tallied three points over the weekend including his first official goal and assist in Friday's win. Isackson, who also earned an assist in Saturday's finale, opened the year with a natural hat trick in Minnesota' exhibition win over Lethbridge.
Serratore Snaps Goal Drought
Tom Serratore's first period goal in Saturday's 7-1 win snapped an extended drought for the forward -- the junior had gone 24 games between goals heading into the contest. Prior to Saturday, Serratore's last goal came on Nov. 18, 2011 -- a 4-3 loss at St. Cloud State. In 67 career games, Serratore has eight points (six goals, two assists).
Boyd Strikes Again
As a freshman, it took Travis Boyd 35 games to tally his first career goal with the Gophers -- a timely strike in Minnesota's 5-2 win over North Dakota in the NCAA West Regional championship game. This year is a different story. The sophomore took just over 51 minutes to tally his first mark of the season -- putting the Gophers up 5-0 with a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 11:30 of the third period on Friday night.
Mike Reilly's First Career Points
It took freshman defenseman Mike Reilly all of 6:40 to record his first career point as a Gopher -- assisting on Nick Bjugstad's first period goal on Friday nightl. But the newcomer wasn't done yet. Reilly would add a second helper on Erik Haula's second period goal at 17:46 to end his first college game with a pair of assists.
More Firsts on Saturday
Ryan Reilly also tallied his first career point over the weekend -- an assist on Serratore's first period goal. Brady Skjei also heard his name called for the first time as a Gopher -- twice on Saturday -- first for an assist on Kyle Rau's second period goal and again for his first career goal (PPG) during the third period.
Alt's Big Plus
Junior defenseman Mark Alt might be Minnesota's offensive good luck charm. Despite ending the night with no points, Alt was on the ice for all five of Minnesota's goals on Friday and finished a game-high plus-4 on the night. Plus-4 is also a career-best for Alt. Alt would lead Minnesota with a plus-6 rating over the opening weekend and added an assist in Saturday's 7-1 win over the Spartans.