Gophers beat Under-18 Team 9-0

On Friday night, the Gophers took on the best young players in the country when they played the U.S. Under-18 Team. Every year this elite squad from Ann Arbor, Mich. which showcases some of the most talented skaters from around the United States. Although the team was filled with talent, they were no match for the stronger, faster Gophers who routed the Under-18 team by a score of 9-0.

Even though the stands at Mariucci Arena looked near-empty, the on-ice excitement did not let up for a second during the game. In just over one minute, Gopher senior Mike Hoeffel netted a beautiful goal on some great passing by Nick Bjugstad and Cade Fairchild. The first period saw two more Gopher goals by Tom Serratore and Joe Miller respectively.

Minnesota scored four in the second and two in the third to destroy the Under-18 Team 9-0. Fifteen Gophers had a point in the game and seven different players netted at least one goal. The Gophers' were too fast and strong for the Under-18 team who was no match for the Maroon and Gold.

One of the top performers for the Gophers was freshman Nick Bjugstad, who ended the game with three assists and an impressive, top-shelf snipe in the second period for a goal. Bjugstad, who recently returned from the World Junior Championships, was all over the ice, throwing his body around and making a difference.

Hindered by a case of mononucleosis earlier in the season, Bjugstad was off to a slow start but now appears to be rejuvenated coming off the Junior Championships. Look for big things from the Blaine native in the second half of the hockey season.

One of the main areas of interest for Gopher fans was the play of Minnesota signee and Chaska native, Travis Boyd. Boyd did not have a spectacular game, but there were few bright spots for the entire Under-18 Team. Boyd looked like a smooth and strong skater who wanted to pick his spots to show his ability.

He seemed as though he wanted to get more involved in the game but the Gophers speed and skill made it tough for Boyd to get into a real flow. Boyd had a near-goal when the puck ricocheted off the back wall and landed right on the tape of Boyd while the Gophers' Kent Patterson was scrambling to get back in to the net. Patterson made a great save, robbing Boyd and keeping the shutout alive.

Listed at just 5-foot-10, Boyd does not have ideal height but he is a thick kid, weighing in at 185 pounds. His body type looked comparable to that of Jay Barriball, a shorter player who is very strong on his skates and is hard to muscle off the puck. Boyd is a solid passer and can also put the puck away when he gets the chance.

This season with the United States Development team has improved Boyd as a player. Last season with the organization, Boyd had eight goals and 10 assists in 35 games. This season is going much better with Boyd netting four goals and six assists for 10 points in just 13 games thus far. Playing on this team will continue to mold Boyd into a solid player, one that will be ready to contribute the second he steps on the ice for the Maroon and Gold.

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