Forget my three keys to the game, which were basically rip-offs from yesterday. Let's look at how the Tigers earned the sweep over Minnesota tonight.
1. Richard Bachman. In case you missed it, the freshman from Highlands Ranch turned in a phenomenal debut performance Friday (saved 23 of 24 shots) and earned the start again tonight only to one-up himself with a 38-save performance, including 18 saves on the penalty kill.
In his first career back-to-back starts against the No. 3 Gophers, Bachman saved 61 of 63 shots--that's a .968 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average. Wow.
"I'm excited right now," Bachman said of earning the sweep. "I'm having fun. It's been an awesome last couple of days and I'm proud of team in front of me. It has been great."
2. Penalty kill. CC's penalty kill ended last season ranked seventh in the nation.
Looks like the Tigers picked up right where they left off and then some.
CC killed 13 of 13 penalties this weekend against the Gophers, whose power play is "their bread and butter," coach Scott Owens said.
Not only did the Tigers hold Minnesota scoreless on the man-advantage, they generated offense as well. Even though CC has yet to score a short-handed goal, it looks like the moment is not too far off.
"We return a lot of our penalty killers, to start with," said center Chad Rau, who scored both goals in the win. "There's only one new guy on our special teams for penalty killing, and that's Walsky and he's familiar with our systems. I think we're all familiar with each other and when we get the puck, if we have time, we're always trying to look for each other. I know me and McCulloch, that's our plan every game is to catch the opponent sleeping on the power play if they're thinking too offensive."
3. Weathering the storm. Even though Minnesota may have dominated long stretches of the second and third periods, CC found ways to create dangerous scoring chances and get the puck out of the defensive zone. The defensemen managed several late-game odd-man rushes well with timely poke checks and physical play. They also kept the Gophers off of Bachman's doorstep for the most part, limiting their second chances.
"It shows a lot of character, a lot of grit, a lot of moxie with our team," Owens said. "It wasn't necessarily a thing of offensive beauty for us tonight, but we found a way to win. We'll take it."
CC also showed poise after Minnesota's early goal and prevented another during that tenuous two-minute span following a score.
"We had gotten stung last night, they scored before the announcement was even done," Owens said. "We wanted to make sure we address that to a certain extent. That's one of the areas you've got to get better at as these games get lower scoring."
What will probably be addressed in practice this week:
--Fitness: "We fatigued tonight," Owens said. "It was a combination of their big bodies getting after it and us fatiguing a little bit."
--Cashing in on scoring opportunities: "We should have had two in the first period," Owens said. "It would have been a different game if we had done that....I thought we were going to get more chances but we didn't."
--Limiting shots in the defensive zone: Owens can't be too pleased with his defensemen allowing 34 shots over the final 42:42.