Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gophers: Post Tyler Hirsch

Back on December 30th Gopher's Head Coach Don Lucia gave Tyler Hirsch his walking papers. After the 05-06 letdown losing in the first round of the NCAA's to Holy Cross (BTW ... UND fans favorite Gopher game of all time even with this weekends sweep at Marucci) Coach Lucia entered this season determined that drinking scandals and other off-ice distractions weren't going to be a problem this year. I mentioned in my Very Early WCHA Thoughts that was going to be Lucia's biggest challenge. And since the season began he took a much tougher stance with his team regarding discipline; much of that focus ended up on Tyler Hirsch.

Tyler had been a bit of an enigma after his 03-04 meltdown at the Final Five. Rumored to have "issues" with regard to his mental state Tyler took a year off to get his stuff together. He returned at the beginning of this season and was welcomed back into the fold. His impact was immediately felt. He anchored the #1 line and contributed 13 assists to Okposo (8) and Stoa (5). But he continued to be somewhat of a distraction for the Gophers though as Lucia had to bench him several times. Both for schoolwork as well as rumored laziness on the ice. I called Hirsch The Best Player in College Hockey about 3 weeks before Lucia booted him. I called him "elegant".

Since Hirsch's departure the Gophers are 5-4. In those 9 games, Ryan Stoa has scored 2 goals and Kyle Okposo has scored 1 goal. Coach Lucia has struggled to find line combinations that work in Hirsch's absence. Stoa and Okposo have had five different linemates during this stretch (Carman, Flynn, Howe, Bostrom once each and Bariball 3 times).

While supporters of the Gopher program will point to any number of other factors as causes of the Gopher's current stuggles; it's clear to me that Hirsch's removal hasn't been the positive for the program that fans and experts trumpeted that it would be. Sure the kid was probably a bit flaky. No doubt he was a bit of a primadonna. But I don't see how anyone can argue that his contributions on the ice aren't missed. 5 wins and 4 losses following 16-1-3 run with him on the roster make that case strongly. Think Tyler has a little grin on his face today?

I'll have a couple of other preview's coming in the next few days focused on the Seawolves/Gophers series on Feb 2nd and 3rd.

14 comments:

Suze said...

The Gophers are ripe for the picking when they come to Anchorage. Getting swept at home this weekend and splitting the last two previous series (one of those also at home), they should be more than beatable here at the Sully.

Charlie will be back, so UAA will have a healthy line up. Time to get some points Seawolves!!!

Donald said...

I'm not real certain that their latest two losses won't be a bit of motivation for them. UND sweeping them "could" be more of a bad thing for UAA than just the points that UND picked up.

In any case, the Seawolves have their destiny in their own hands. It's clear that the Gophers are human and can be beaten.

Charlie's return though should be a huge boost for the team.

Anonymous said...

yeah & don't forget chad anderson. he will be back from suspension too, so that will be good for our defense. anyone see the highlight of the goal that frazee allowed tonight, unbelieveable

Suze said...

If Frazee's goal is online somewhere, I'd love to see it. Post a link if you have it.

Jimjamesak said...

Donald, posts like this need video dude... :p

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCgqLXc8ZUQ

LetsGoMavs said...

Here's the Frazee goal....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXMnye_8wfg

Jimjamesak said...

Suze: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXMnye_8wfg

Donald said...

JJ:
Hasn't everyone already seen the Tyler meltdown?

LGM:
I can only imagine that Frazee was picking his nose on that. Hopefully, the Gophers didn't use up all their "screwups" against ND.

LetsGoMavs said...

I don't think we'll be seeing Frazee in goal for a while. He admits that he can't handle being picked on very well and he's easily flustered. tDon has to work through him with that, if he's expected to start next year.

You have to feel a little bad for the guy though..that's embarassing as hell!

Suze said...

Thanks for the link - I have NEVER seen anything like that ever. He will have a hard time living that down. Imagine the nicknames opposing fans are gonna have for him now!

LetsGoMavs said...

I have a pic of your favorite Maverick player on my blog...it's on the slide show from my Madison trip:) I should have gotten his autograph for you!

Jimjamesak said...

Yeah but the Hirsch meltdown is a classic. Oh yeah, sadly I've started a blog, jjakworld.blogspot.com

Donald said...

JJ:
I saw your blog last night about 10pm. Right after you visited there from here. Since you don't want to be all serious and shit like me you might go with the DG "model". That'd be sweet.

Jimjamesak said...

Yeah that's kind of what I'm going with. I dunno how any blog with a "Douchebag of the Week" award can be serious...

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