First of all I have to comment that it appears that the departure of John Hill from the coaching ranks certainly improved the Minnesota Gophers. I believe their record is now 8 and 1 with 5 shut outs. That's a far cry from recent Gopher teams that had the talent but have been missing the national tournament lately.
I think we all expected that as young as the Sioux team is this year that it would take a while for them to become real competitive. Where that's really showing up is in the scoring. The Sioux had a few good chances, but they still can't score like we need to.
The Sioux played the Gophers well through most of the game. The first goal was by Nick Bjugstad on the power play that wound up being a virtual 5 on 3 as Mario Lamoureux blocked two shots which broke his stick and left him nearly unable to stand. I give him a lot of credit for getting up and still attempting to block more shots, though it wasn't hard for the Gophers to move around him.
I have to give him credit. After a short stint on the bench he finished the game.
The Sioux didn't suffer many breakdowns in my opinion until late in the game. The one that hurt the most led to the second goal where the Gophers won a faceoff in the defensive end and managed to get by the defense in the scramble after the drop of the puck. That led to a break-a-way goal for Tom Serratore on a nifty little pass from Nick Larson.
It was a entertaining game with at least one old time scrum, without the punches. It's pretty clear that the Gophers came into the game with the idea that they weren't going to fold under the physical play like they have in some of the games in the past.
The one thing that's troubling is the officiating that's going to lead to a player getting seriously injured. In the first period, Gopher Nate Condon launched Derek Rodwell headfirst into the boards. The tandem of Derek Sheppard and Marco Hunt called Condon for a minor penalty. Of course when they let hits like that go by someone is going to do it again. In the second period Seth Ambroz hit Mario from behind and finished the game in the locker room.
Hits that launch a player headfirst into the boards have no place in hockey. The rules are very specific but the refs in the WCHA have no respect for the players safety.
I'll get off my soapbox now. I hate to say it but at this point of the season it looks like the Gophers are back to being a contender.