Gophers Flat in Loss
Gophers Look Pedestrian as Streak is Snapped
“Well, the chain fell off the bike tonight” said Coach Lucia after the game, accurately describing the action, or lack thereof.
Sloppy, flat and for the most part, uninspired - a good way to describe what transpired at Mariucci Arena tonight. After a 4 – 0 – 2 run that seemed could jump start this team to a longer streak, the Gophers played about as bad of a game as can be imagined in a 3 - 2 loss to UNO on Friday night.
The first period was fairly fast paced; however it led to a bit of sloppy play. Initially both teams just seemed intent on one-upping each other on who could hit the other the hardest and/or most. It lacked flow although the Gophers did get out of the period with a lead. UNO got on the board first, aided by a poor back-check. The Mavericks came up ice on a three-on-two and unfortunately for the Gophers, Christian Isackson couldn’t tie up Dominic Zombo, who tapped in a cross ice pass from Josh Archibald. It was a bad all-around shift for Isackson, who totally botched a Maverick turnover behind their net just seconds before.
“Get it in, get it out” said UNO coach Dean Blais with a big smile after the game, explaining the simplicity that his teams always have played with.
Zach Budish answered quickly for the Gophers on a really bad defensive breakdown in the UNO zone. The puck was headed up the boards but was turned around quickly by Sam Warning, who slid it across to Budish, who was uncovered in the slot. Budish calmly skated in and snapped a shot over John Faulkner’s glove and the game was tied up.
Isackson atoned for his earlier shift by putting the Gophers up 2 – 1. He found himself uncovered in the slot, and one-timed a nice pass by Nick Bjugstad, the puck got through John Faulkner’s five-hole after skirting the traffic in front.
“I think Johnny Faulkner maybe should have had the second goal” said Blais. “But then he made about three or four other great saves” he continued, referring to how his senior netminder doesn’t get rattled easily.
The Gophers played about as flat of a 2nd period as one could imagine. They didn’t get a shot on goal for the first eight minutes, and only had four for the period. UNO tied the game on the power play midway through the frame and had several other close chances. Just about every player seemed ‘off’ during the entire twenty minutes.
“When you only get seven shots on net in the last thirty-six minutes, it means you aren’t producing a lot” said Nate Schmidt. “I can speak for all defensemen, it’s a lot easier to play with the puck in front of you than with the puck behind you."
Playing poorly somehow got worse to start the third. After not being able to generate a shot on goal during an early power play, a brutal play by Captain Zach Budish, who decided putting a no-look pass through his own slot was a good idea, easily set up Josh Archibald to sneak one past Adam Wilcox.
“We played an ‘OK’ first period” said Lucia, who was definitely more critical of his team than normal. “They just kept coming and at times, you know, our guys….just couldn’t make plays.”
It’s certainly possible that this Gopher team isn’t as good as most of us thought they would be, just as it means the sky isn’t falling for this team either. We are over a third of the way through the season, and while I thought for a while that the goals would come, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will, at the same time. It’s usually fairly tough to sweep a Gopher team so we’ll see how things turn out for the rematch on Saturday.