Here are the three Gopher Stars of the Weekend, as selected by yours truly:
Third Star: Taylor Matson
Matson's consistent effort has resulted in a move up the depth chart and an increased responsibility to score. Unlike many players over the past several years, Matson has accepted bearing more of the scoring load, and the early returns are good.
Matson has been moved up to the third line center with the absence of Nick Bjugstad due to mono, and has responded with four goals in the past four games, including the all-important first goal of the game Saturday against the Badgers.
Matson is an important player to this team because he provides both effort on the penalty kill and some scoring touch to the bottom-six forwards. Matson's all-around effort earns him the number three star of the weekend.
Second Star: Jay Barriball
I don't know how it happens, but Jay Barriball always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Barriball has keen hockey sense, and his awareness allows him to be in position to score whenever the puck squirts to him.
Never was that more evident than in Saturday's overtime period, when he somehow found himself with the puck right in the slot. Of course, the Gopher captain did not bury the puck in the back of the net, but he does it pretty frequently.
Barriball leads the country in goal scoring, and his high-octane offense is what the Gophers will need to compete this season. He scored a huge go-ahead goal in the second period on Saturday, and for that Jay Barriball earns the number two star.
First Star: Kent Patterson
Patterson is now 4-0-1 on the season as a starting goaltender. He boasts a .917 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average. Patterson keeps the Gophers in games and rarely gives up a big lead which the team cannot come back from.
Patterson kept the Gophers in the game Saturday, making big saves in the overtime period to preserve the tie and the single point. For that, Patterson gets the number one star on the weekend.
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