Tag Archives: Nate Condon

The State of Gopher Hockey – Will the Gophers Miss the NCAA Tournament?

Will Gopher Hockey miss the NCAA tournament

Two losses in the North Star College Cup has the Gophers in danger of missing the NCAA Tourney

Gopher Hockey is in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament after losing both games in the North Star College Cup. Since sweeping Notre Dame in the beginning of November, the Gophers are 4-9-2 with 44 goals for & 44 goals against in that 15 game stretch. They are also 2-2-2 and 4th in the Big Ten conference with 23 goals for & 18 goals against. This is the team that began the season as the #1 ranked team in the nation, or is it?
 
Is this the Same Team from Last Season?
This is, for the most part, the same team that went to the National Championship game last season. They lost Nate Condon, Justin Holl, Jake Parenteau and Tom Serratore. In terms of stats, that’s 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists) and a plus/minus of +45. That doesn’t seem like much to replace among 4 players. That’s 12-13 points, 3-4 goals, 9-10 assists and a plus/minus of +11 or so.
 
New recruits come in and/or older players progress and should fill those roles, right? One top-end player to replace Condon, a depth player that will do whatever is asked of him with the versatility to play either forward and/or defense and play well, a bottom pair defenseman that will give you good minutes and make good decisions in all zones and a checking line forward with some grit that will forecheck and throw the body around. Wow, those roles don’t seem that easy to fill now, do they?
 
The big difference is the guys filling those roles last season were seniors. They knew the system and what the coaches wanted like the back of their glove. They played without thinking and didn’t worry about making mistakes. They just played the game. That only comes from playing in games, or experience. Obviously, practice helps but it’s not the same as games. That’s where you learn what to do but not necessarily how to do it. There’s never as much pressure in practice.
 
Conner Reilly has filled the role Nate Condon provided, at least on the scoring side of it. He is on pace (11G, 4A through 22GP) to score more points than Condon did last season.  Leon Bristedt has the ability to score or he wouldn’t have been put on the top line to begin the season. You can see the energy and compete level he brings.
On the back end, they’re still searching for someone to grab that 6th defense spot. Ryan Collins seemed to have a grasp on it but he didn’t play either game in the North Star College Cup last weekend with Steve Johnson playing on Friday, getting his first career point with an assist on the first goal, and Jack Glover playing Saturday. Do the coaches find these three players to be basically interchangeable at this point of the season? They are still changing up the defensive pairings which isn’t a good sign at this point of the season.
 
Last, but certainly not least, they don’t appear to have a gritty pest of a forechecking forward that will connect on a big hit every now and then. The guys I see that could fill that role are A.J. Michaelson and Christian Isackson. A dark horse to fill that role could be Robin Hoglund, the big Swede, who’s only played in 4 games this season. Could someone like Bristedt, Vinni Lettieri or Ryan Reilly fill that role? They are smaller players so they might not be able to bring that kind of physicality.
Is it “Must Win” Territory Now?
The Gophers have 14 games (8 at home, 6 on the road) left in the regular season before the Big Ten Tourney and are currently ranked 20th in the Pairwise rankings, 17th in the USCHO.com Poll and are not ranked at all in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll although they would be 16th according to the votes collected.
I’ve never been a big fan of the “Must Win” game or theory. First of all, if you’ve gotten to a point in a season where you “Must Win” one game to keep your season alive, obviously things haven’t gone well up to that point. The Gophers need to be in a Must Win/Playoff mode if they hope to make anything out of this season because their backs are against the boards.
They just look like a beaten down team right now, beaten down by losing. It’s amazing how much the mental side plays with good teams and good hockey players. The lizard brain makes teams and players doubt their skills and their ability to win battles for the puck or make simple plays and they start to feel that “here we go again” mentality and their heads hang after a goal or a missed opportunity. The sticks start being gripped tighter and they don’t shoot the puck when they should because they’ve been in a slump.
 
Is there enough Leadership?
The leaders on the team, players and coaches, need to figure out what the problem is with this team. It’s not talent. They have plenty of talent. So what does that leave? Is it hard work? Motivation? The system? Do guys know their roles and how to play them? Is each and every player bought in to what the team is trying to accomplish? Are they playing for each other? Have they become a team or are they just a group of hockey players playing at the same time with the same jerseys on?
 
We’ve seen it way too much lately in the “State of Hockey” this season. The Wild have had problems with working hard consistently and that makes you question their motivation. I put doubt in the problem being in the system put in by the coaches because we’ve seen it work before so it’s either guys knowing the system and/or knowing how to play the system on the ice. It could also be nerves and being afraid to make a mistake on the ice?
 
It’s easy to put blame on the coaching staff because they are supposed to have the team ready to play every night but as a hockey player playing at the highest level of college hockey, motivation should never be a problem. Plus, this is a team that had to work very hard to get to the National Championship game last season and then were outworked by a Union hockey team that took it to them for 60 minutes! You’d think that would be stuck in their mind how bad it hurt to lose like they did in the Championship game last season.
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Gopher Hockey Notes vs Minnesota State Mavericks – 11-15-2013

Gopher Hockey is still ranked #1 after splitting a road series against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame AND the Son of Don! Notre Dame came out on Friday and took it to the Gophers physically, winning 4-1, but the Minnesota Gophers rebounded well on Saturday night getting a 5-4 win where all the goals were scored by freshmen, two for Hudson Fasching and one each for Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata and Jake Bischoff with the game winner! Mario “Son of Don” Lucia had two goals for the Irish.

Now the Minnesota Gopher hockey team gets back to a more familiar opponent as they take on former WCHA foe, the Minnesota State Mavericks. The Mavericks are still a part of the WCHA but they are probably anxious to play a #1 ranked team especially if it’s the Minnesota Gophers they’ve built a little rivalry against. The Gophers can’t look past or underestimate the Mavericks so hopefully they will come out with the same energy and aggressiveness that got them that #1 ranking.

Here’s your line charts for tonight’s game:

Line Chart – Minnesota Golden Gophers
Left Wing – Center – Right Wing
F-Sam Warning-11 – Kyle Rau-7 – Hudson Fasching-24
Nate Condon-16 – Justin Kloos-25 – Taylor Cammarata – 13
Connor Reilly-21 – Travis Boyd-22 – Vinni Lettieri-19
Tom Serratore-14 – Gabe Guertler-27 – Seth Ambroz-17
Left Defenseman – Right Defenseman
Brady Skjei-2 – Jake Bischoff-28
Mike Reilly-5 – Jake Parenteau-6
Ben Marshall-10 – Michael Brodzinski-20
Goalie
Adam Wilcox-32
Mike Shibrowski-1

Scratches: G-Ryan Coyne-31, D-Justin Holl-12, F-Ryan Reilly-9, FAJ Michaelson-15, F-Christian Horn-18, F-Christian Isackson-26

Line Chart – Minnesota State Mavericks

Left Wing – Center – Right Wing
Dylan Margonari-26 – Matt Leitner-18 – Bryce Gervais-9
Chase Grant-21 – Teddy Blueger-23 – Johnny McInnis-22
Brett Knowles-24 – Jean-Paul Lafontaine-12 – Max Gaede-8
Taylor Herndon-14 – Jordan Nelson-16 – Mat Knoll-10
Left Defenseman – Right Defenseman
Brett Stern-27 – Zach Palmquist-7
Jon Jutzi-28 – Casey Nelson-6
Nick Buchanon-4 – Sean Flanagan-11
Goalie
Cole Huggins-34

Alright, it’s time to DROP THE CLUTTERPUCK!!!

1st Period

  • About 3 and a half minutes in, Hudson Fasching throws a big hit at the right half wall of the Mavericks zone followed by a big hit by Michael Brodzinski in the left corner of the Gopher zone!
    • That got the Gophers going and a line rush gets the puck into the blue paint with Hudson Fasching and Kyle Rau battling for the loose puck and Fasching gets tripped up giving the Gophers their first power play of the game.
  • GOAL – Justin Kloos from Nate Condon & Brady Skjei at 10:31 of the 1st period – A face-off at the left face-off dot (or to Adam Wilcox’s right) is won by Travis Boyd back to the left corner. Jake Bischoff wins a battle for the puck, with a little help from Boyd, and passes it to Brady Skjei behind the net. Skjei comes around the net and quickly passes it to Nate Condon giving him the whole left side to skate up the boards. Condon brings the puck into the zone with speed and stops/slows down at the left half-wall. He was just trying to buy some time as the rest of his line came on the ice from the bench so he slowed down and then turned towards the boards and goes back towards the blue line and sees Justin Kloos coming up the middle of the zone. Condon puts a little backhand into the middle of the zone so Kloos can skate into it and take a quick shot that beats Cole Huggins to the right side for a 1-0 GOPHER LEAD!!!
    • The shot mayhave been tipped by Brett Knowles as he swiped at it with his stick to attempt to block the shot.
      • You don’t have to take a big swing to get your stick in the way of the shot. Just put your stick in front of the puck!
    • MaxGaede while on theforecheck goes in for the hit on Brady Skjei and doesn’t even try to get his stick on the puck.
      • He didn’t give up an odd man rush by doing that but he may have disrupted the play by getting his stick on the puck.
        • He then doesn’t pick up his man on the back check in Justin Kloos, who scored the goal.
          • He does that familiar reaching motion once he sees the puck going to Kloos. That’s usually followed by a head hanging in disappointment.
        • Pick up the man before he gets the puck! Read the play and react to what you read because if you react to what you see, it’s too late!
    • Minnesota Statedefensemen Brett Stern & NickBuchanon gave Nate Condon way too much space, especially since he was all alone with no help from any Gopher players in the offensive zone.
      • Someone has to go to the puck when you outnumber the offense!
      • They gave too much of a gap too. Part of that is because of Nate Condon’s speed but it’s 1 against 3! You should be able to get the puck from him!
      • Brett Stern also bites on Condon’s move to buy time!
        • This is why you take the body instead of the puck! You should be able to get a piece of a player that’s carrying the puck! It’s also a lot easier than trying to get a piece of the puck.
        • Separate the man for the puck or the puck from the man…OR BOTH!!! Make a Choice!!!
      • Nate Condon did a good job buying time and showed good vision to find Kloos for a shot on net!
      • Justin Kloos does a good job driving to the net to get a chance to score.
        • AND a good job to shoot the puck knowing that was his only play there.
      • Now half of the Gophers goals have been scored by freshmen! That’s 18 of 36 if you’re keeping track at home (or on your computer where you are reading this!)

“We were merely freshmen!”

I loved this song when it came out in 1996! I may have just aged myself but so what!

  • GOAL – Mike Reilly from Nate Condon and Justin Kloos at 18:33 of the 1st period – Justin Kloos wins a puck battle along the right wall in the Gopher zone, breaks out of the zone and flips the puck into space over the head of Nate Condon. Condon dives for it, trying to get a pass over to Taylor Cammarata, but he didn’t get enough of it and it’s played into the right corner by Sean Flanagan. Max Gaede, just off the bench from a line change, gets to the puck in the corner after Condon but wins the puck and heads up the boards. He loses control of the puck and then panics and tries to just get the puck out of the zone but fails, turning the puck over on the blue line for Justin Kloos to keep the puck in the zone. Kloos just turns and throws it at the net but it hits the Maverick defenseman so Nate Condon can reach the puck as he goes for a line change. Condon sees Mike Reilly coming and just let’s him have it for a quick shot that beats Cole Huggins to his left. Taylor Cammarata went to the net and screened the goaltender on the goal. GOPHERS LEAD 2-0!!!
    • MaxGaede isn’t having a great night so far! He’s a minus 2 so far and he probably could’ve prevented both goals from happening had he finished on the play!
      • He needs to get the puck out of the zone on that play and he had time to just skate it out as Kloos was giving him space to do just that.
        • But he panicked and didn’t execute the chip off the boards well!
      • The Mavericks have to get in front of those shots too!

2nd Period

  • Mike Guentzel told Marney Gellner that he wanted the Gophers to get the puck to the paint and get more shots and the Gophers have been doing just that in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd period.
  • Taylor Cammarata just got a semi-breakaway and did something I’ve been curious to see would work or not. He stopped to get himself some time and space and then passed it off to a teammate for a shot on goal.
    • It worked beautifully because the defender was chasing him and the last thing they think you’re going to do is stop so I wonder when I’ll see that again.
  • PENALTY – Teddy Blueger for Tripping Justin Kloos at 8:01 of the 2nd period – The above play continued and as Justin Kloos tried to go to the front of the net from behind the net, hewas tripped by TeddyBlueger!
    • That means we get a Gopher Power Play!!!
  • GOAL (POWER PLAY) – Connor Reilly from Sam Warning & Mike Reilly at 8:40 of the 2nd period – A Connor Reilly one-timer misses the net and wraps around the left boards back to Mike Reilly. Bryce Gervais over pursues Mike Reilly and lets the pass get through him to Sam Warning coming off the left half-wall creating a 4-on-3. Matt Leitner is too much in the middle of the ice to cover Connor Reilly at the right face-off circle and Casey Nelson may have screened his goaltender as Reilly’s one-timer goes in the right part of the net for a 3-0 GOPHER LEAD!!!
    • Bryce Gervais saw an opportunity to be aggressive and maybe get to Mike Reilly as he tries to handle a bouncing puck but he needs to go in with more of a defensive play in mind and just get in front of Mike Reilly and the puck.
    • MattLeitner was too busy watching the puck than keeping track of where Connor Reilly was on the ice.
      • Casey Nelson was doing the same thing as he tried to move over to block the one-timer but screens his goaltender instead.
        • Would Cole Huggins have been able to make the save if he wasn’t screened? We’ll never know but as a defenseman, you have to be aware of when you’re taking away the eyes of your goaltender!
  • TeddyBlueger is hurt when SethAmbroz hits him with a body check after he clears the zone.
    • The hit was maybe a tad late and maybe a little from behind but Blueger wasn’t prepared to take a hit. He was watching the puck clear the zone on the penalty kill.
    • You have to be aware of who’s on the ice and who’s coming whenever you’re on the ice. You should just assume someone’s coming to hit you at all times and have the proverbial “head on a swivel!”
  • Jordan Nelson throws an elbow into the head of Ben Marshall in the offensive zone.
    • He may not have meant to throw the elbow but players love throwing the chicken wing by following through high with the elbow.
    • Keep your arms down when you make a hit or push through the chest of the player and not up into the head area!

3rd Period

  • A puck just hit the official and gave Minnesota State a scoring chance.
    • I wonder if any league has ever thought a good way to get rid of that kind of thing changing a game might be to just blow the whistle when it happens?
    • Would both teams be OK with that? I would think they would.
    • Or maybe it could be left up tothe discretion of the official to blow the whistle or not?
      • Although I’m not really a fan of making the official wonder if he should blow the whistle or not. Officials trying to think is usually a bad thing if you ask me.
  • Jordan Nelson just got another elbowing penalty. This time it’s on Kyle Rau! I’d keep my head up if I was him. Gophers may be coming or at least they all know what number he is.
  • GOAL – Zach Palmquist from Jean-Paul LaFontaine & Max Gaede at 12:48 of the 3rd period – A turnover in the left corner gets Jean-Paul LaFontaine the puck behind the goal line to Adam Wilcox’ right and he centers the puck out to Zach Palmquist for a one-timer that goes over a sprawling Adam Wilcox and the Mavericks make it 3-1!!!
    • The Gophers had too many players below the goal line on that play.
    • Mike Reilly goes below the goal line when Ben Marshall gets the puck but Marshall lost control of it and that’s when LaFontaine created a chance by going to the net.
    • Jean-Paul LaFontaine made a great play as he was being tripped by diving and getting his stick on the puck to push it out to Zach Palmquist for the one-time shot.
    • That’s one of those transition mistakes as Mike Reilly thought Marshall had the puck so he’s going on offense and is in goodposition for offense but then,all of a sudden, it’s turned over and he’s out ofposition from a defensive standpoint.
      • Not as big a problem with a  3-0 lead but you still don’t want to give up point blank shots in front of your own net.
  • GOAL (EMPTY NET) – Seth Ambroz – Unassisted at 19:33 of the 3rd period – Seth Ambroz picked off a breakout pass in the Maverick zone, corralled the puck and shot it into the empty net making it 4-1!

Final Score
Minnesota Golden Gophers 4, Minnesota State Mavericks 1

The Gophers got out to a 3-goal lead and then kind of took their foot off the gas pedal and almost let the Mavericks back into the game. Adam Wilcox had to make some great saves late in the third period to keep this game from becoming a big learning lesson for the Gophers. Now it’s just some film study for the boys to clean up some of the little stuff at the end of games.

Gopher Hockey Recap from GopherSports.comGophers Take Down Mavericks, 4-1
Gopher Hockey Box Score from GopherSports.comMinnesota-Minnesota State Box Score
Gopher Hockey Recap from MSUMavericks.com Minnesota State Falls at #1 Minnesota Friday, 4-1

In other B1G TEN College Hockey action tonight,
Home=”vs”, Away=”@”
Wisconsin lost @ Miami 2-0,
Ohio State won vs Canisius 3-0,
Penn State lost vs UMass-Lowell 3-2,
and
Michigan lost @ Nebraska-Omaha 3-2

In other College Hockey action,
Home=”vs”, Away=”@”
Notre Dame won vs Merrimack 4-0 – Mario Lucia scored the 3rd goal of the game and now has 5 goals and 2 assists in 11 games this season.
North Dakota won vs Minnesota-Duluth 4-2,
Maine won vs Boston University 7-0,
Denver won vs Western Michigan 5-3
and
St. Cloud State won vs Alabama-Huntsville 10-0

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You’ve Been ClutterPUCKED!!!