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Gopher Hockey Notebook: Minnesota plans to keep lines the same for UMD

Same lines, goalie plans and more decisions in this week's notebook.

Ryan Collins (6) will play UMD for a sixth (and seventh) time in his career this weekend.
Ryan Collins (6) will play UMD for a sixth (and seventh) time in his career this weekend.
Matt Christians/SBN College Hockeu

On second look, things did not appear to be better for the Gophers when head coach Don Lucia got the chance to watch Saturday's loss on video. The mistakes piled up going against Vermont's 1-1-3 trap and only two of the ten criteria he had for the game were positive.

But that was last weekend. Now Minnesota will go and play a familiar foe in Minnesota Duluth this weekend.

The team has spent the past three days practicing on the NHL ice sheet at Ridder Arena trying to get comfortable and limit mistakes that come on the smaller sheet. Tomorrow they'll practice at Mariucci. While Friday's game is on the 200x100 feet Olympic sheet at Marriuci, Duluth's AMSOIL Arena is NHL-sized 200x85 feet

Some other news and notes.

-Minnesota's opening lines will get a second chance after Lucia made a second opinion on them. He wasn't happy with the groupings postgame, but is not blowing them up at least for Friday's game. Saturday may be different depending on Friday's results. Instead he wants to restart. Guys that hadn't had to step up in the past are going to have to do just that.

The two lines specifically mentioned as the best on Saturday were the first of Brent Gates Jr., Justin Kloos and Hudson Fasching along with the fourth line of A.J. Michaelson, Darian Romanko and Jack Ramsey.

"I think Romanko, I think that line did a real nice job with puck possession time and end zone offense and did what they are supposed to do. Three good sized bodies, they got the puck in deep and went to work," Lucia said. "Whether we keep the lines exactly the same for Friday night, or certainly from Friday to Saturday, we'll wait and see, but we need better production from everybody."

-Whether freshman Eric Schierhorn starts both games against Duluth remains to be seen. The coaching staff will decide its plan of action for the series tomorrow morning.

"Obviously we're going to like to get somebody else sooner rather than later," Lucia said. That could be good news for sophomore Nick Lehr and freshman Brock Kautz.

Lucia reiterated Wednesday that he was happy with Schierhorn;s performance. He liked that the Anchorage native didn't get beat on the first shot and wants to see him improve on rebound control as he grows.

-Saturday's game was the first at Minnesota for Nick Seeler after sitting out a year. Lucia believes he will be an added element to the team with his strength and physicality, but needs to get more games to find his timing and confidence. His defensive partner on Saturday, Ryan Collins, thought it was fun.

"Nick's going to be a good addition to our team. He plays strong, he plays aggressive," he said. "Me playing with him I like to play with a player like that to try to shut other players down and be tough to play against."

Also on that list, in a way. is Connor Reilly. Stepping on the ice completed a nine month journey for the redshirt junior. Reilly admitted the first period was weird, but was happy with how he played for the most part as a first game back.

"I thought I played pretty well," he said before naming off the negatives. "I got to get my feet moving a little more. I had a couple chances, a couple shots, I missed wide a few, a two-on-one that I put over the net, I didn't like that very much. But overall I was satisfied. We got to build every day and get better."

-Lastly, congrats to Minnesota goalie coach Justin Johnson and his wife, who had the couple's third child today.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --