Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/9/11

The Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team opened their 2011-12 campaign with a sweep at home against the woeful Sacred Heart Pioneers. The Gophers outscored the Pioneers 15-0 in the two games.

This young Gophers team entered the season ranked number 19 in the nation in the opening USCHO poll.

The Gophers won 9-0 on Friday night, and followed that dominating performance with a 6-0 win on Saturday.

While the Pioneers are a significantly inferior team, the Gophers’ performance this weekend gives fans hope that this team can get the Gophers back to the top of the WCHA in this being their last year in the league before the switch to the soon to be created Big Ten hockey conference.

While the weekend was filled with dominating performances in all facets of the game, here are my three stars for the opening weekend.

Honorable mention:

Kent Patterson- Junior, Goaltender

Patterson’s two shutout weekend would’ve traditionally put him atop this list. With Kent being the most sure thing back this season, I figured I’d start him off with HM honors this week.

Sam Warning- Freshman, Forward

Warning compiled quite the opening weekend for a freshman. Two goals and two assists for a four point weekend in his debut.

Third Star: Kyle Rau- Freshman, Forward

The Eden Prairie native only had one goal and one assist this weekend, but the most talked about freshman in this class opened with the first goal of the season for this Gophers squad.

Second Star: Jake Hansen– Senior, Forward

Hansen hasn’t had the career to this point that many expected after his dominate run in the USHL. But Hansen showed signs this weekend that the past is the past and he can be a 40-point guy for the Gophers this season. Hansen is one of the few seniors on this team and will need to play solid two-way hockey in order for the Gophers to finish near the top of the WCHA. Hansen had one goal and five assists on the weekend.

First Star: Erik Haula- Sophomore, Forward

Haula, who centered the dominate second line of Hansen and Warning, showcased his immense playmaking abilities that Gopher fans grew used to last season. His former linemates Mike Hoeffel and Jay Barribal/Jacob Cepis are gone, but Haula, Hansen, and Warning looked as if they’ve been playing together all of their lives. Haula finished the weekend with three goals and two assists.

The Gophers will be back in action next weekend as they drop the puck on their last season of WCHA conference play as they travel to Duluth, Minnesota to play the defending national champion UMD Bulldogs.

-Brett Cloutier

Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank. He covers all things Minnesota sports. You can follow Brett on Twitter @brettcloutier

 

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