Friday's Game Info:#6/4 Penn State at #7 Minnesota
Date: February 3, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Place: Mariucci Arena
TV: Fox Sports North Plus
Stream: BTN2Go (Free for cable subscribers)
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Nate is covering for tonight: SB Nation College Hockey
Not everything is set in Minnesota's forward lineup as the Gophers hit the stretch run of Big Ten conference play.
"There's some spots to be had right now and that's what we have to try and find out over the next month," said head coach Don Lucia.
One of those players in position to get a chance is freshman Joey Marooney. Lucia wanted to get Marooney, a healthy scratch since December 10th against Michigan State ,in the lineup during last weekend's North Star College Cup.
He will get a chance tonight.
"Sometimes until guys play you don't know. They need a chance. I've had guys that I coached that were better in games than in practice. He brings a certain element," Lucia said about Marooney, who has appeared in three games this season. "He hasn't had a chance to play a lot. When he has he's obviously noticeable.
Marooney practiced this week with Mike Szmatula on the third line as the right wing, which seems to be a position in flux. Luke Notermann and Connor Reilly have had chances to earn the spot since Tommy Novak went down with a season-ending injury.
Now it's Marooney's turn.
Minnesota's offense continues to be operating from a position of strength (the same can be said for the rest of the conference given the number of high-powered offenses - defense can be optional). The Gophers are averaging 3.71 goals per game, fifth in the nation, and face a Penn State this weekend that happily shoots from everywhere, leading the nation with 4.41 goals per game.
Still, Lucia would like to see more scoring from the bottom-six forwards, which was one reason for Minnesota's success last weekend when teams focused on shutting down the Rem Pitlick-Justin Kloos-Tyler Sheehy line. Brent Gates Jr. scored two power play goals Friday while Lucia was happy with the play of the fourth line. While mostly used in a defensive or penalty kill situations, the line of Ryan Norman, Darian Romanko and Jack Ramsey created several chances.
Norman scored in Saturday's win over Bemidji State, the second straight weekend he finished with one.
"What becomes critical as you get to this juncture you have to have some secondary guys step up," said Lucia. "I think those are important aspects of our team. I thought, I call it our 'Blue Line' with Romanko and Ramsey and Norman, last weekend was the best they played since the first month of the season."
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers lines
Rem Pitlick (#15) - Justin Kloos (#25) - Tyler Sheehy (#22)
Leon Bristedt (#18)- Vinni Lettieri (#19) - Taylor Cammarata (#13)
Brent Gates Jr. (#10) - Mike Szmatula (#9) - Joey Marooney (#12)
Ryan Norman (#23) - Darian Romanko (#26) - Jack Ramsey (#16)
Jake Bischoff (#28) - Ryan Lindgren (#5)
Steve Johnson (#4) - Jack Sadek (#2)
Ryan Zuhsldorf (#20) - Ryan Collins (#6)
Eric Schierhorn (#37)
Nick Lehr (#34)
Brock Kautz (#1)
Minnesota's only change from Friday's lineup is Marooney taking the spot of Luke Notermann.