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Are the Gophers for real?

 Are the Gophers for real?Despite sweeping a better-than-its-record-indicates North Dakota team over the weekend in the most relevant and entertaining series at Mariucci Arena in recent memory, there are, inevitably, those who—regardless of Minnesota’s 9-1 record—are still asking that question this morning.

Our short answer? Yes.

Minnesota supporters will point out the .900 winning percentage, the nation’s number one team offense (4.80 goals scored per game) and third-ranked team defense (1.60 goals allowed per game), five shutouts in 10 games, and a 28.3% power play conversion rate which ranks fourth in the country.

Detractors will undoubtedly question what many consider to be Minnesota’s soft schedule, pointing primarily to the Gophers’ opening-weekend sweep of Sacred Heart by an outrageous 15-0 overall margin. They will go on to attribute Minnesota’s gaudy offensive numbers solely to that result.

Below is a look at the updated records of the nation’s top seven teams from last week’s USCHO.com poll along with the combined records of their opponents—not including games involving themselves—and the resulting winning percentages.

RankTeamCurrent RecordOpp. RecordOpp. Win %

1

Boston College

8-2-0

21-24-10

.473

2

Colorado College

5-1-0

9-14-0

.391

3

Michigan

7-2-1

21-14-8

.581

4

Western Michigan

6-1-3

18-14-7

.551

5

Minnesota

9-1-0

11-17-4

.406

6

Notre Dame

5-2-2

18-17-5

.513

7

Merrimack

7-0-1

8-15-5

.375

It’s clear to see, Minnesota’s opponents do, in fact, rank fifth in winning percentage with only the nation’s last undefeated team, Merrimack, and Colorado College facing less-challenging schedules among the top seven than the Gophers.

Case closed, right? Not so fast.

Although trailing the likes of Michigan, Western Michigan, and Notre Dame, the numbers are right in line with those of Boston College and Colorado College whose legitimacy so far hasn’t been called into question.

Furthermore, remove the “anomaly” known as the Sacred Heart series—which Minnesota largely isn’t getting credit for anyway— and the numbers remain impressive:

Adj. RecordWin %Avg GFRk.Avg. GARk.Opp. RecordOpp. Win %

7-1-0

.875

4.125

5

2.00

T-5

11-15-4

.433

Between Erik Haula, who leads the nation in points with 17 (7-10—17), Nick Bjugstad (8-7—15), freshman phenom Kyle Rau (8-7—15), senior Jake Hansen (3-8—11) and others, the Gophers possess the scoring depth matches up with anyone in the country.

On the back end, outside of the Minnesota-Duluth series in which the Bulldogs fired 50 shots on goal per night, an improving Minnesota defense is allowing less than 22 shots per game while Nate Schmidt (1-11—12) trails only Wisconsin’s Justin Schultz (4-10—14) in scoring among the country’s defensemen.

Lastly, but certainly not least(ly), goaltender Kent Patterson (9-1-0, 1.60 goals against average, .942 saves percentage) leads the nation with five shutouts and ranks in the top five in every significant statistical category.

Brace yourselves, WCHA, the Gophers are legit.

SCSU’s offense could be in trouble

Three points away from reaching the 100-career point mark, St. Cloud State senior Drew LeBlanc suffered a broken bones in his leg during Saturday’s 3-3 tie against Wisconsin.

SCSU’s leading scorer with 12 points through 10 games lost his footing and went crashing into the end boards near the end of the second period. He was taken off on a stretcher and immediately taken to St. Cloud Hospital where he underwent surgery.

The good news is that LeBlanc didn’t suffer any ligament damage, as told to the St. Cloud Times by Bob Motzko, who added, “it was a clean break and there was no joint damage.” That means  his season may not be over. It all depends on the rehab process.

Although SCSU scored 10 goals on the weekend, only one of which involved LeBlanc on the scoresheet, this could still hurt the Huskies offense in the long run. He isn’t exactly known for scoring goals but he is a playmaker with 10 of SCSU’s 59 assists this season.

Reiter can stop the puck 

After an abysmal start to the season in which Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kenny Reiter allowed 13 goals in three games, the senior has two shutouts in three games and a .944 save percentage over a six-game stretch.

The most recent evidence of his improvement came Saturday in a 29-save 4-0 shutout at Denver.

Reiter’s thoughts on his recent turnaround, coming Thursday.

The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

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  • IrishHockeyFan

    I’ll go first. Ferris State did not sweep Ohio State last weekend.

    • Paula Weston

      True dat, as my students would say. Tie and a win.

  • Guest

    Also, Miami won 4-1 on Saturday, not 5-1

  • Alex

    Ehh sweep/no sweep. At least she didn’t quote a player… quoting a coach… who’s never spoken with said player before… taken from another reporter.

  • here we go again….

    Paula, maybe you should let your readers do the research and reporting?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ABLM2UWD6I7DXXQ22HV3B6PCAA Flatlander

    “We’re completely happy where we are right now, but we’re far from where we want to be.” – WMU captain Ian Slater

    Huh? Is Yogi Berra playing college hockey now?!…

    Read more: http://www.uscho.com/ccha-blog/2011/03/01/15-things-they-said/#ixzz1FU2BonFv

  • SiouxRrebuilding

    As gopher fans are so quick to award the sioux in the last decade, I hereby award the gophers with the Virg Foss trophy for mid-season excellence … and all the meaning that trophy entails.  It is only midway to the mid-season but the gophers can’t stumble.

    • Blisteriii

      I thought the Gophs won the national championship the way they were celebrating….. my mistake, they just swept a 15th ranked Sioux team for the first time in nearly 10 years….

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

        Wow,you must not be a Susan fan. Those poor folks wouldn’t know how to celebrate a national championship. Oh well,neither would their coach.

        • Blisteriii

          They know more about national championships than the Gophs….nuff said

          • Mr Hockey

            Still living in the past I see. Why don’t you start talking again when your Sue get above 500. The Gophers might have been bad the last few years but 9th place is flat out bad!!! The Sue aren’t even a TUC team! Can’t wait for the polls today!!!

          • http://twitter.com/Scotty3451 Scott Welp

            Accusing Sioux fans of living in the past when you’re hanging onto a national championship won eight years ago. Does anyone else see the irony?

          • Hobey Baker

            Not true. Gophers won in 2002 and 2003. I don’t see North Dakota on the list since then. Maybe your daddy knows more about a National Championship, ask him about it.

        • guest

          Considering the sioux won in 1980 when 5 of the top gophers players and the head coach were off winning a gold in the olympics! I’ll take that gold anyday over your ncaa title

      • Mr Hockey

        Yep never see teams celebrate, it never happens in college football or basketball! The Sioux fans hvae nothing to talk about so they pick apart the Gophers. How many rings does the Hack have again as coach? crickets ..crickets.. crickets

      • Phoenixfyre1313

        really you have nothing better to complain about than excited players?   I guess that the next time North Dakota sweeps Minnesota, Wisconsin or St. Cloud at home we should all expect to see all the player on the bench and on the ice sit on their hands and look stoic about it.  How stupid!

  • SCSU Euro

    LeBlanc isn’t known for scoring goals?  He’s not Matt Frattin, but he did have 13 last year. 

  • Mr Hockey

    As a season ticket holder I’ve seen the Gophers look bad the last 3 years. Yes, it is early but this team is for real. They out played the Sioux all weekend and even killed off a 5:00 Sioux power play allowing only 4 shots. The BIG difference with this years Gophers is they have talented kids that want to wear the “M” on their chest. This team is better than everybody thinks. It has more depth than either of the back to back NCAA champion teams from 2002 & 2003!

  • Erikjt01

    After reading comments on this site and the Star Tribune, Sioux fans are in SUCH denial of the weaknesses of their team and the strength of the Gophers.  Sioux fans need to be reminded they don’t have the scoring power they’ve had in years past and can’t rely on that after their “typical” slow season start.  Your goaltender will need to have a performances like he did this weekend a majority of the time in order for them to win this year, and that wasn’t even enough this weekend.  People also need to be reminded they Gopher’s swept the defending national champion on the road already, and defending WCHA champs last weekend.  As Don said, “in order to be the man, you have to beat the man.”  As this young team gets more experience, look out. 

    • Blisteriii

      There are also writers at the Trib that call the U OF MN the NYY”s of college hockey……. can’t believe everything you rrrrrrread….

  • rodeotwigs

    the gophers can thank the bulldogs for being 9-1 instead of 7-3 and looking up at the ncaa champs in the wcha standings…i’m not convinced yet that they’re the real deal though they are improved definitely from recent years past

  • Mr Hockey

    erikjt01 I also read the Tribune daily and I wish the Sue fans would be honest with themselves. Since the new 20 read articles kicked in I can’t comment on there for a while, like not until December. It’s probably for the better that I can’t, reading Rinkpig and Goldenchoker comments daily is like reading the National Enquier!

  • CrazyHorse

    Guys enjoy your sweep.  No need to waste breath on Sue fans. Their team is basically no better than Alaska Anchorage despite the fact they always get to recruit players who rank high on the NHL Central Scouting ratings.  The last time they won, Rocco Grimaldi was in first grade (the first time, not his three later attempts).  They goon it up and constantly whine about Genoway getting hit, wahhhhhh, and they have a coach who doesn’t hold anyone accountable.  I say lifetime contract for Hakstool

  • The Man

    It’s humorous watching the NoDak fans implode on themselves. Their team is flat out bad this year and they are still in denial. Best case scenario, even with a late season tear, they finish 6th in WCHA. And that is a stretch. Minnesota is the real deal, not sure why nobody is giving them credit. Deepest team in college hockey with 3 strong lines and a 4th line that scored 2 of the 5 goals this weekend against NODak. And 2 of their 4th liners are out on the Penalty Kill, allowing top line to rest. They’re solid from top to bottom. And, they’ve already swept the National Champions UMD and another Frozen 4 team from last year NoDak. Still saying “Weak schedule” now? Name 1 other team that is 4-0 against Frozen 4/Nat’l Champs from last spring? I’ll be waiting…………..crickets………….crickets…..

    • Mr Hockey

      The Man, don’t you love it when you can put the Sue fans in a BOX!!?

    • Former Gopher

      they got sooo lucky against umd. win 5-4 (ot) and then another win 5-4?  gophs got out shot by 40 that weekend. not like they stomped the dogs. gophers are beatable. its early still

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

        Whoever tracked SOG for the Bullpuppies should have their eyes checked. Quantity aside,my grand daughter could have stopped most of those blueline prayers.

        • Cole Gaines

          It’s early for sure. Kent Patterson got the Gopher’s the sweep. We’ll see what happens at the end of the year!

      • Mr Hockey

        Luck is what losers call it, winners find ways to get the job done ! The Gophers won’t get swept all season! You have to see the Gophers in person to gauge how good they are. They play on an Olympic ice sheet and when they go on the road to smaller rinks, they’re size and speed really stands out.

    • Anonymous

      Where exactly is this great implosion? The Sioux lost two tight road games to a team that is currently ranked #1 in the nation.  Aaron Dell was excellent in net, the defense held up well, while the offense finally started to show itself.

      How is 6th “a stretch” in the second week of November? Nothing is a stretch at this point.  The only people calling this team “flat out bad” are Gopher fans, hockey fans seem to think otherwise. Coincidence? I doubt it.

    • Simple stats – learn them

      So your arguement for this whole thread is that the Sioux are weak, but yet you use them as a reason to justify that the Gophers schedule isn’t week? I am a Sioux and Gophers fan as I went to both schools but honestly if you believe that sweeping the Sioux and the Bulldogs means that you are better than those teams were last season you must be out of your mind and I am wasting my time with these comments, because last time i checked UMD lost two of their top three scorers and UND lost 70% of their scoring both school replaced with freshman that are not ready to do what their predicesors did. You also say that the Sioux haven’t won since the Gophers won their back to back which is true but they did have 1997 and 2000 which is 2 and 5 years further back than the back to back of 02-03. Also how many frozen fours have the Gophers been to since the back to back 1? I believe the Sioux have been to 6, but keep living in the past. Also what is the Gophers record again UND in regionals since 2004? Oh yeah 0-3, would have been 0-4 but Holy Cross saved you from another loss. I hate to write this because I am a Gophers fan but it is the lowest common denominator fan like you that gets on my nerves, why do you rip other teams? Just cheer for yours because you are the bandwagon fan that reps when the Gophers are good and hids when they are not.

      • Mr Hockey

        The Bulldogs were not the best team last season! To say they were is idiotic, they got hot at the right time. Credit to them for doing so. I’m a Gopher fan and Michigan, CC, Notre Dame, BC & UND were all better than UMD.

        • Cole Gaines

          Really? So they beat Michigan and Notre Dame to win it and you call it a fluke! You’re an idiot.

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            any team can beat any other team in a one-game playoff.  A lucky bounce of the puck or a timely turnover can be the difference in a close game.  That doesn’t make them the better team.  Rarely does the best team win it all.  If you don’t know that, you’re the idiot!

        • gopher’s fan

          I’m a huge gopher fan and I myself cannot deny the fact that UND was the best team in the country last year. However, Duluth was a very good and they did what needed to be done to win the championship. Good for them, it was good to see one of the lower teams in the tournament make a run and win it all. I’m not saying that Duluth was bad, they were actually incredible throughout the season. Being a gopher fan looking at the teams in last year’s frozen four, I had a sick feeling of disgust in my gut that the Sioux were going to be national champions. As hard as it was to admit, they were the best last season. When Michigan beat them, because of some great work in the net, I was able to calm down a little. And of course, I cheered for Duluth while I was in Duluth staying with friends. It was good to see them get a championship. They may not have been the best team in the country but they did what was necessary to take home a national championship.

  • Hakstol’s 0 titles

    Susie fans sure talk a lot of smack for having a bad team and getting beat up & down the ice. *pats on head* Run along now, back to your insignificant wasteland while everyone else laughs at you.

  • Spanky

    The Gophers have been knows to peak to early under Lucia so lets see how they are after X-mas. That being said, after watchin UND this weekend, I think UND (finally) is going to have a below average team this year. There offense was bad and their golie is the only reason the the games where close. Its not like the Gophers have the best defensive core either, UND just looked plain bad.

  • Anonymous

    In regards to the Gopher’s opponent’s winning percentage, isn’t 11-17-4 good for a 0.406 winnng percentage?  That would put them in the middle of that pack.

    Mike

    • Brian Halverson

      Thanks for catching my error there. I actually miscalculated on all of them which moved Minnesota up one spot ahead of CC. I’ve updated the post to reflect the correct information. Thanks again for pointing it out.

  • Paul

    @USCHO – “Minnesota is the new No. 1 team in the D-I men’s poll, and the surge in web traffic from that area is overwhelming.”

  • Mr Hockey

    GOPHERS #1, looks like more than just  Minnesota fans feel that way!!!

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone like their crow boiled? Fried perhaps?

    We do this dance every year, the Sioux start slow, the hate-brigade marches on out of the woodwork with their cries of doom, gloom, and Gopher pride. “We’re the state of hockey!” they shout, “Hakstol doesn’t have any rings!” They continue on like this for a month or so, meanwhile Hakstol continues to work the team, develop talent, and refine their play.  Suddenly December rolls around, and Gopher Nation loses much of its voice, as the masses begin to quiet down in the face of the storied second half surge that has defined the Hakstol era.

    I’m not sure which game some of you were watching, but Ben Blood never seemed to leave the ice and was dominant in his own end.  Dell put in the sort of performance that won him the WCHA goaltending title last season, and Rocco Grimaldi made more than a few Gophers look silly.  Kristo looked solid, Parks is developing into a legitimate offensive threat, and Knight owned the faceoff circle. This team is finally starting to come into its own, and I’m going to kick back and laugh at the ignorance on display here once it does.

    • Chris

      Blood left the ice a lot, everytime he marched to the penalty box.

    • chickenstrip6

      I’ll admit that Knight owned the faceoff circle, but Ben Blood is an undisciplined goon, and although not bad, I wasn’t impressed with Kristo.  The only reason the games were close was because Dell played phenomenal; something he won’t continue to do every game.

      • Fan Man

        What could even make you think that Dell wont continue to play strong like that all year?  Thats like saying Petterson wont have another shut-out all year or that he will start to play like his predisesor Kan of Gas!!!

        • SUEH8TER

          BECAUSE UNTIL HE PLAYED THE GOPHERS, HIS NUMBERS SUCKED!!!!!

        • chickenstrip6

          thats true, dell sucked until he played the gophers.  GAA and save percentage weren’t even close to anything good, and getting swept by wisconsin? cmon, he had a good series against the gophs, and if he played that way all season, the sioux wouldn’t be as bad as they are.

    • Cgpotter

      I love how Blood goes after the guys that are 5′ 8′ and 160 lbs but wont get involved if the guy is 6 foot or larger. He is truely a goon.

  • Hobey Baker

    I just noticed in pic #65 of the slideshow that the linesman’s face is all bloody as he’s leaning in to drop the puck. One of the Sue’s tampons must have fell out and got him?

  • Vanderbiltjordan

    Long way to go.gopher should make tournythis year probably frozen four.Sioux aren’t terrible they will be around at end.they always are…

  • SUEH8TER

    JUST LOOKED AT THE POLL, GRETA TO SEE THE GOPHERS ON TOP.  HEY SUZIES, IF YOU WERE TO TURN THE POLL UPSIDE DOWN, YOU TOOLS WOULD BE ON TOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rance

    it doesnt matter if blood rarely left the ice or grimaldi made several gophers look silly or whatever else ND did that folks think was terrific.  The fact is NoDak lost both games.  There are no style points or artistic exprression awards.  Score more goals than the other guys and you’re OK.  Finally, you play the teams the schedule says you play when the schedule says you play them.  Good luck to the UM in Wisconsin this weekend. 

  • CollegeHockeyFan

    I would absolutely go with BU in the Merrimack game, but Trivino is out which is a huge blow. 

  • CollegeHockeyFan

    Haha BU beats themselves again. I like it.

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