LIVE › 9-11:59 p.m. Sports Center Tonight
NEXT › Midnight ESPN SportsCenter
Updated: October 8th, 2011 9:34pm
Perfect Kent Patterson shuts out Sacred Heart again in Gophers win

Perfect Kent Patterson shuts out Sacred Heart again in Gophers win

by Jess Myers
1500ESPN.com
Email | Twitter

Entering the opening weekend of the current college hockey season, Gophers senior goalie Kent Patterson had never recorded a shutout. Now he's got two of them.

Patterson was perfect for the second consecutive game as Minnesota recorded a not-quite-as-easy-as-the-score-indicates 6-0 win over Sacred Heart, as the Gophers improved to 2-0-0 for the season. Patterson had 20 saves as Minnesota out-scored the Pioneers 15-0 on the weekend.

The skinny

College is all about learning, and in their opening series as college hockey players, a few Gopher freshmen learned what they hope will be two valuable skills this season: scoring and winning.

Most impressive was, again, freshman wing Sam Warning, who had the game-winning goal and two assists for his new team. Don Lucia was asked if suburban St. Louis will be a new fertile recruting ground for the Gophers after they plucked Warning out of Chesterfield, Mo., and immediately placed him on the second like alongside veterans Erik Haula (the sophomore who is a Wild draft pick) and Jake Hansen.

Lucia chuckled, then noted that Warning first jumped onto their recruiting radar two years ago when Gopher assistant Grant Potulny coached him at a USA Hockey festival.

His offense, combined with Patterson making up for any mistakes the youthful corps of defensemen made, made for some important momentum for the Gophers, who open their WCHA season on the road next weekend.

Turning point

The Pioneers were the aggressors for long stretches of the first period, out-shooting the Gophers by a wide margin at one point, and capturing the momentum after Minnesota failed to score on a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play.

Minnesota had a solid by not spectacular 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, but there was still hope on the Pioneers bench. And then, just like that it was gone. When Ben Marshall and Taylor Matson scored their first goals of the season just 27 seconds apart, the lead was doubled, and the weekend was, for all intents and purposes, all done.

Overheard

"He's going to have to be our backbone, when you've got a D corps with no seniors and one junior, and a lot of inexperience. They're going to make some mistakes in front of him."

-- Lucia on Patterson.

"He was very good low and took away the bottom part of the net on us. We talked to our guys about going high, then we'd miss the net. He got maybe in our heads a little bit.

-- Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo, on Patterson

Numbers game

12: Number of years ago that a Gopher goalie last blanked the same team on consecutive nights. Adam Hauser shut out Alaska Anchorage on March 12 & 13, 1999, in the WCHA playoffs.

92: Shots on goal by the Gophers in the weekend series.

Health watch

Gophers sophomore forward Zach Budish, who has missed two of his last three hockey seasons with various ailments, scored his first goal of the season on Saturday.

Coming up

For what will likely be the last time, the Gophers will head to Minnesota Duluth for a WCHA series. The Bulldogs are the defending NCAA champs, and are coming off a split with top-ranked Notre Dame. Minnesota was 1-1-2 versus the Bulldogs last season.

"We had our moments," said Lucia, referring to a few defensive lapses. "Obviously if we have moments like that next weekend, the puck will probably be in the back of the net."

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for 1500ESPN.com. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
3202