….I’m fairly certain that Erik Haula’s comment to the Star Tribune on Friday night about ‘Playing down to their level’ was plastered all over Mankato’s locker room tonight. It’s why Zach Lehrke was all over Haula from the drop of the puck (first giving him a big stick check to the shoulder at the faceoff dot just before he took his opening-game penalty). Troy Jutting was very respectful in answering questions after the game, but it seemed at any second he was going to blow up. His face was totally red and the frustration level was way off the charts – even more than when he almost got into an altercation with a ‘U’ police officer a few years back.
….Jutting also mentioned about how his team had five breakaways on the weekend, and this and that about momentum when you score on those and the other team gaining momentum when you don’t. Kent Patterson was huge this weekend – after a bit of an off weekend against the Spartans last week, he was awesome. Had a few great saves both nights and kept Mankato from scoring on any of those breakaways.
….I’m getting a bit worried about how the Gophers have been playing lately, but I’m hoping that it’s just a matter of it being a young team and them needing a bit of a break as they really haven’t had one yet. Get four points against Tech next weekend and then it’s a 2 week break before the Mariucci Classic. Four points next weekend are a must as they were this weekend.
….If the Gophers can sweep Tech, win the Mariucci Classic, then beat Notre Dame, they’ll be in great Pairwise shape again. As it stands now, the Vermont loss hurts badly, but just as bad was the loss and tie against Michigan State. Beating a possible Hockey East opponent in Northeastern then following up against a CCHA team would do wonders for the Gophers later on. Having teams like Duluth and North Dakota keep winning is huge also.
….The refs were bad overall this weekend, but just brutal in the third period tonight. Kyle Rau’s open ice hit was a textbook hit on how to clean someone up in the open ice legally. There was a wave off of an icing in the 2nd period that almost got Justin Holl killed and the back and forth nature of the penalty calls was enough to get Coach Lucia to have a long discussion with Bruce McLeod after the game. Nobody bothered to ask tDon about the officiating after because, while calm and collected like usual, it seemed like he would have gotten really upset about it. Not much needs to be said – just hope that it gets better from here.
….Tech sure is an interesting team. They seem to have a new attitude but it’s not necessarily following them outside their own building this season, especially in-conference. I’m fired up for a first-hand look next weekend.