Minneapolis, Minn. – Well that escalated quickly.
Photo by: Craig Cotner
Sam Warning scores in the 1st, putting MN up 2-0
Minnesota is meandering through the middle of its season according to coach Don Lucia. The team has been piling up the shots without much to show for it and the team is 3-6-2 in their last 11 games. Saturday night was a different story though as Travis Boyd lead his team with two goals, an assist, and Minnesota (11-7-2) beat Wisconsin (2-13-3) 5-2 in front of 10,384.
“It was just nice to see our guys get rewarded with some goals tonight,” said Lucia. “When you get 100 shots on goal in a weekend you should get some reward and tonight we did a good job getting to the net and got some rebound opportunities in that first period.”
While the game was essentially over 28 minutes after it started, the third period was filled with penalties.
“The end of the game, I’m proud of the way that our guys stood up for each other and handled that situation,” said Boyd. “Now we can’t play North Dakota, this is kind of the number one rivalry. Especially with how it ended it’s kind of like a rivalry reborn. Last couple years we haven’t had any games like that, it makes the games more fun to play in.”
The last few minutes was filled with 88 penalty minutes including five 10-minute misconducts and two contact to the head majors. Mike Reilly jumped to the defense of teammate Leon Bristedt after a questionable hit by Wisconsin defenseman Eddie Wittchow. Both players were assessed contact to the head majors, Reilly with his second game misconduct of the season and Wittchow with a game disqualification The misconduct was Reilly’s second of the season, a third means he’ll get suspended for a game.
At one point Minnesota filled the penalty box with six players, when asked when the last time Lucia saw that many guys in the box, he said it’s been a while and added it was probably against North Dakota.
“I saw my brother Mike jumping in there—that’s surprising,” said Connor Reilly. “It’s good to see him get in there, and all the guys just sticking up for each other, it shows we care for each other.”
The game also saw Connor Reilly get his team leading 11th goal to go along with an assist. Mike Reilly also had a strong game with three assists and 15 penalty minutes. Sam Warning added his seventh goal of the season and Christian Isackson scored his first of the year.
Lucia gave the lines a good shuffle heading into the weekend and while they only practiced together twice, they seemed to find chemistry quickly.
“I thought the different line combinations all had good games,” said Lucia. “One of the things I liked was Isackson’s line had another goal this weekend, they had one against Michigan. I thought Leon had a good weekend. That line gave us some good energy, had some good offensive zone time, so we had pretty good production from all four lines.”
“You play with energy, you play hard, it really doesn’t matter who you play with. That’s really the bottom line. Tonight we played pretty intelligent. We didn’t make the big breakdowns like we did Friday night,” said Lucia.
Mike Eaves came out of the weekend knowing that his young team is still learning and wasn’t too surprised they weren’t ready for prime time on back to back nights.
“With a young team, much like puppies in a box they always want to get out, when they do something good you want to scratch them on the ear, next thing you know they’re crapping on the carpet. We crapped on the carpet tonight,” said Eaves.
“People are competitive, you don’t want to lie down, you want to play hard and smart. As we’ve said recently, one of our short term goals is to play our best hockey at the end of the year and this all lending itself to that.”
Minnesota heads into an important North Star College Cup next weekend. The team has fallen down to 15th in the all-important PairWise Rankings. They’ll face top ranked Minnesota State at Xcel Energy Center and then either #5 Minnesota-Duluth or St. Cloud State. Those two games could go a long way to determining how important the Big Ten Tournament could loom for Minnesota. Wisconsin continues their schedule with a series against Michigan before welcoming Minnesota to Madison the following weekend.
Golden Nuggets: Connor Reilly said Coach Guentzel said this morning I want you guys to be like piranhas around the net, get to the net and bury ‘em hard. The team definitely attacked Rumpel harder Saturday and the Badger goalie was often complaining to the refs after almost every goal... Michael Brodzinski was scratched Friday night, but Lucia said the sophomore defenseman was fine headed into this weekend and he wanted to give him the extra day. If it was a tournament game, Brodzinski probably would have played... The Boyd goale late in the first was a back-breaker and it went under a lengthy review, Eaves said the refs thought it was very clear on the video what happened. "You have to trust them. This is what they’re hired to do and they’re honest guys. If they see it that way, they have to call it as they see it," Eaves said... While Lucia has been frustrated with the teams last stretch of games, most of the struggles have been road games. "I like the shots against, last three home games we’ve been 25 or under," said Lucia. "Previous two or three, right around 20. So over time that’s going to be in our favor."
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