Gophers Put on Exhibition with 7-0 Win
Isackson's Natural Hat Trick Leads Scoring
Gophers Coach Don Lucia said at Media Day he was looking for members of his sophomore class to step up—apparently winger Christian Isackson was listening. Isackson didn’t score any points in his 11 games played last year, but his natural hat trick to start off the game led the Gophers in a 7-0 win over Lethbridge.
“Obviously Christian knows it’s a great opportunity for him and we talked about the things he needs to get better at, I think he’s done that,” said Lucia. “Last year he never played at the pace he needed to play with, you know have a little bit of that tenacity, and he looks like he’s got a little more of that. Maybe he can have the type of year that Nate Schmidt had from freshman to sophomore year.”
The Pronghorns struggled to keep up with the Gophers for most of the game, giving Minnesota five power play opportunities in the first period, and eight for the game. Even when the play was 5-on-5, it seemed the Gophers still had a man advantage as they dominated possession of the puck and outshot Lethbridge 65-16.
“We had the puck a lot, next week will be different, we’ll have to defend a lot more,” said Lucia.
Sophomore forwards Sam Warning and Seth Ambroz also answered their coach’s call by chipping in goals in the 2nd and 3rd period. Junior defensemen Mark Alt and sophomore Ben Marshall were the other two goal scorers for the Gophers.
“I thought that Warning, Tommy Serratore, and Christian and Boyd and Ambroz—those five forwards are a real key to our year, taking a step in their development,” said Lucia. “Tonight they looked like they did.”
The team skated most of their roster except for Blake Thompson, who was held out of the lineup to preserve the possibility of a redshirt season. Lucia still hasn’t decided if they’ll use the redshirt option, but he didn’t want to burn it for just one exhibition game.
Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad, and Isackson skated on the first line, Warning, Erik Haula and Zach Budish skated on the second line, Nate Condon, Travis Boyd, and Ambroz on the third, and Tom Serratore skated with A.J. Michaelson and Jared Larson for half the game and Ryan Reilly and Christian Horn for the second half of the game.
Michael Shibrowski started off the game in goal and then was relieved by Adam Wilcox 9:30 into the second period. The two combined for the shutout and while they didn’t face many shots, they made the saves they had to make.
The defensive pairings were Jake Parenteau and Justin Holl, Seth Helgeson and Ben Marshall, Mike Reilly and Mark Alt, and Brady Skjei and Nate Schmidt. Lucia had three different power play units for the game with Nate Schmidt, Mike Reilly, and Brady Skjei all taking turns as PP quarterbacks. The units looked crisp and are going to make it difficult on the coach to cull the group into two units.
The Gophers now have a week of practice before their two-game series with Michigan State next weekend Oct 12 and 13. Friday night’s game starts early at 6PM and will be televised by FSN and radio will be on 1500. Saturday night’s game is a late one, 8 PM and will also be covered by FSN and 1500.