Barriball’s return sparks Gophers early on

It was almost a month ago when Jay Barriball dazzled everyone with five points in the season-opening series against Massachusetts.

Four weeks into the season and he’s still finding the net, the common denominator game-by-game in a Minnesota lineup that lacked offensive punch last season with 2.76 goals per game without Barriball, who was medical redshirted after a knee injury after the sixth game last season.

Barriball leads the Gophers in points with 13 (eight goals and five assists) and has scored a point in seven out of eight games this season. But the senior wing got plenty of help from a supporting cast this weekend when the Gophers swept Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

The Gophers haven’t lost to CC since Feb. 20, 2009.

“We got a lot of scoring from a lot of different lines,” said Barriball, whose eight goals is tops among WCHA players. “That’s what we need. Every decent team has guys who score consistently and others that chip in.”

Barriball assisted on Erik Haula’s shorthanded goal to put Minnesota up 1-0 and added an empty netter to cap Friday’s 4-2 win. His second-period goal put the Gophers up by three Saturday night in a 9-4 rout.

But Saturday, it seemed everyone got in the scoring mix and gave Barriball some relief in Minnesota’s scoring department. Freshman Nate Condon scored twice in the second period with three assists, sophomore Taylor Matson scored his third goal of the weekend and senior Jacob Cepis had a goal and three assists.

The Gophers fired 44 shots on CC goalies Joe Howe and Josh Thorimbert, Saturday and only had the man advantage once. It was the most goals Minnesota scored in a game since it beat Alaska-Anchorage 9-0 on Nov. 11, 2005.

“We have the guys to put up big numbers in the goal category,” said Barriball, who led the Gophers in points with 43 in 2006-07 as a freshman. “We don’t expect to score nine goals every night but we obviously want to score more than we did last year.”

Barriball has made a living on the power play so far this season. That’s where he’s scored four of his goals (which is tied for the national lead for PP goals) and he also has a pair of game winners.

“For me, it was good to get a couple of goals early to get that confidence back after sitting out almost a full year,” Barriball said.

The Gophers need a guy that can score on any given night. The 2008-09 WCHA Rookie of the Year Jordan Schroeder (45 points in ’09) was supposed to be that guy last year after Barriball went down but underachieved greatly and no Minnesota player finished with more than 28 points.

Minnesota has someone to rely on in the offensive end this season and Barriball has accepted the role.

“I have to be a leader,” Barriball said. “As a senior and a captain I have to find a way to motivate the guys each and every week. My role is to score goals and put up points.”

Budish hurt in moped accident

Fox Sports North hockey analyst, Kevin Gorg, reported Tuesday morning on KFAN Radio that Minnesota forward Zach Budish has a torn ACL. The report said Budish sustained injuries in a moped accident Monday.

Budish suffered a knee injury playing linebacker for the Edina High School football team in 2008, causing him to miss his senior hockey season.

Budish scored a goal with assist Saturday and has two goals with four assists for the season. He was a big part of Minnesota’s second line (Budish, Cepis and Condon) that scored five goals Saturday.

“I heard about (the accident) last night but I’m not sure how serious it is,” Barriball said Tuesday afternoon. “I texted him today asking how he was doing and he said he’d be in here today. Hopefully I get a chance to talk to him today and see what’s going on.”

Minnesota coach Don Lucia will address the severity of Budish’s injury to the media Wednesday.