The Vikings’ 19-13 win over Chicago on Sunday was dreadful, yes, but it was also dread-filled. As the Minnesota offense sputtered and coughed, without Justin Jefferson. As the Vikings defense got turnovers, but couldn’t get off the field on third down. As walking typographical error Tyson Bagent - whose last game was a 19-for-34, no-touchdown, two-interception performance against the Colorado School of Mines - drove down the field in the fourth quarter, my soul was filled with absolute dread.

The Vikings won, and the dread for Sunday’s game lifted, but the rest of the season - and especially the next few weeks - should bring it back.

The Vikings got 12 first downs in the entire game, including exactly two in the second half. They gained just 220 total yards, including averaging 2.1 yards per carry on the ground. The defense scored seven points in the second half, while the offense scored none.

The Purple offense went three-and-out four times in the second half, missed a 57-yard field goal, and ended the game by turning the ball over on downs. It was the football equivalent of striking out 14 times in an ALDS game.

But the defense did, in the end, fight Bagent to a draw; the Bears backup led one touchdown drive in the second half, but also fumbled into a Vikings return touchdown, and threw a ridiculous interception in crunch time that basically ended the game. So we can say with confidence that the Minnesota defense is about as good as the Colorado School of Mines defense.

Hockey weekend

It was a true Minnesota hockey weekend, with the Wild in action and both Gophers squads taking on St. Thomas. Five Minnesota teams! (As you have probably noticed, we’re sticking with the Gophers for college hockey coverage around here, because covering every major college hockey program in the state would be very much its own newsletter.)

The Gophers women had the best weekend of all, beating UST 8-0 and 4-0. Abbey Murphy, who also was announced as part of the USA roster for the Rivalry Series with Canada this winter, had a hat trick on Friday and another goal on Saturday to lead Minnesota, and Skylar Vetter and Lucy Morgan posted shutouts in net.

Including an exhibition, the Gophers have outscored their opponents 26-1 this season so far, making them the Minnesota Aurora FC of college hockey.

Less excited about the weekend were the Gophers men, who ended up in overtime against St. Thomas on Friday; they won 6-5, thanks to a Jimmy Snuggerud goal at 3-on-3, then posted a 3-0 shutout on Saturday.

The Tommies were 11-23-2 last year, and finished second-to-last in the CCHA. But at the same time, in Rico Blasi they have a legit coach, and they split with St. Cloud State last week, so I probably shouldn’t get too exercised about them taking Minnesota to overtime on Friday. That said: 8-0 and 4-0 seems like a better result, especially since the Gophers probably don’t want to get into a cross-town rivalry thing here.

NOTE: I can’t decide whether a cross-town rivalry thing would actually be fun or not, but I do think it would be funny if the Star Tribune became the Gophers paper and the Pioneer Press became the Tommies paper, like the Real Madrid / FC Barcelona newspaper wars in Spain.

Finally, the Wild were in Toronto on Saturday, and their total lack of defense helped Leafs fans celebrate the first Hockey Night in Canada of the season in style. Auston Matthews had a hat trick and William Nylander scored twice, and the Leafs danced all over the put-upon Wild bottom four defenseman in a 7-4 win for Canada.

I feel bad for Alex Goligoski, who at 38 appears to be very quickly coming to the end of what is now a 17-year NHL career. Minnesota hockey fans have been watching “Goose” for two decades - first at Grand Rapids, then with the Gophers, then through more than 1000 NHL games - so it’s kind of hard to watch what’s happening now.

Goligoski was a healthy scratch for most of last season, and wasn’t happy about not playing, even as he’s back in his home state; Minnesota explored trading him, despite his no-move clause, and probably would have done so if they could have found a fit for him. Now, he’s back in the lineup after Jared Spurgeon’s injury, and the Wild have to hope that he’s just knocking off the rust a little bit, because he was terrible on Saturday. Not the kind of terrible that makes you angry at him; the kind of terrible that makes you sad for him.

At the moment, he’s trending towards “Frank Robinson crying over making Matthew LeCroy catch” territory.

On the bright side, he did manage to get a misconduct penalty for cussing out the referee, and while this hurt the Wild badly in the game, I do have to appreciate his ability to swear at a referee so badly that he gets a penalty, given that NHL referees spend most of the game hearing bad words directed at them.

Jon Merrill and Jake Middleton and Calen Addison were also pretty bad, and the first two are signed through next season and the latter is one of the Wild’s prospects that they badly need to hit, so this was pretty bad news even apart from anything related to Goligoski.

The others

Gophers volleyball dropped two sets to Northwestern on Sunday, but still managed to pull out the victory, giving them a 2-0 record for their must-win weekend. They’ll follow that up with home dates next weekend against Rutgers and Michigan State; the Spartans are 4-4, like Minnesota, and Rutgers is 1-7 - but the Scarlet Knights’ one win of the season was against the Gophers.

If they have aspirations for this year, I’d say that next weekend’s games are must-win for the Gophers, too…

The Timberwolves beat the Knicks on Saturday, with Naz Reid leading Minnesota with 22 points. Jaden McDaniels didn’t play, and won’t play until the regular season at least, due to a calf issue; I’m not sure how he managed to punch a wall with his calf.



WILD at Montreal, 6pm, BSN
GOPHERS WOMEN’S HOCKEY vs St. Cloud State, 7pm, BTN…. on a Tuesday?

WOLVES vs Maccabi Ra’anana, 7pm. Maccabi Ra’anana is a second-division team from Israel, and this is their second year touring the USA for the preseason; I can’t quite figure out why a second-division team from Israel is getting games against NBA teams, but it’s kind of surprising that these games are going ahead.


WILD vs. Los Angeles, 7pm, BSN

WOLVES at Chicago, preseason, 7pm, BSN