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Gophers hockey battling some inconsistency early

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last of the Halloween candy has surely been eaten by now, and that scary costume is in mothballs for another 11 months, but the Gopher hockey team still finds itself facing a Jekyll & Hyde existence as prep work for the Big Ten opener commences.

In their home opener versus Minnesota Duluth, and in exhibition games against the USA Hockey Under-18 Team and Trinity Western, the Gophers scored seven goals. In all other games -- a road tie with Minnesota Duluth and three losses, they’ve scored once.

“It’s been a tale of two stories for us,” coach Bob Motzko said after practice on Wednesday. “We start off with Duluth and come out of that feeling good and then two exhibition games where you pile a bunch of goals in, so you have this good feel. In there is three weeks between real games, and then we play three games and it doesn’t go well. The truth is, we’re right in the middle of that.”

With goals at a premium, and Wisconsin expected to play a tighter defensive style this weekend in Madison, the Gopher players know there’s pressure to be rock-solid on defense.

“Last year we had some of the same issues and we kind of formed a team identity of playing good, strong team defense,” said junior defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf. “Our goals will come. We have a really strong forward group and defensive group. With the new coaching staff, I feel we’re trending in the right direction.”

Pucks at the polling place in the State of Hockey

Winning the 1988 NCAA hockey title as a sophomore at Lake Superior State may now be the second-biggest accomplishment in Pete Stauber’s life. The Duluth-area Republican and retired police officer was the latest Minnesota politician with a hockey connection to win at the polls when he was elected to the U.S. Congress from the 8th district on Tuesday night.

Stauber, the brother of former Gophers star goalie Robb Stauber, will join former Alaska Fairbanks winger Tom Emmer in Washington. Emmer, whose daughter Katie is a sideline reporter for Gophers hockey on Fox Sports North, was handily elected to his third term as a Republican representing Minnesota’s 6th district. Tim Walz will be Minnesota’s new Governor, replacing Mark Dayton, who played two seasons of college hockey at Yale in the 1960s and sometimes appeared in full goalie gear in political advertising during his various races.

The electoral down notes for hockey-connected Minnesotans came first in the U.S. Senate race, where Republican Karin Housley, the wife of Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley, lost her bid to defeat incumbent Tina Smith. Karin Housley is a member of the Minnesota State Senate with two years remaining on her current term. And Republican Matt Lundin, who played goalie at Maine and Mercyhurst, lost a race for the Minnesota House of Representatives in his hometown of Apple Valley.

Reedy Not Ready

Gophers sophomore forward Scott Reedy was in street clothes on the bench during practice this week again, and will not be in the lineup for the Wisconsin series, Motzko confirmed on Wednesday. Reedy, who is dealing with a lower body injury, missed the Minnesota State series and has two assists in three games this season.

“He won’t be back,” Motzko said. “Getting close. Real close. We’re healthy except for one guy.”