The Gophers and Minnesota State Mankato are one of four WCHA series this weekend. Here is a look at all of them:
Minnesota State Mankato (2-2-2, 0-2-0) vs. Gophers (341-0, 1-1-0), at Mariucci on Friday, at Verizon Wireless Center on Saturday: The Gophers, if they want to win the MacNaughton Cup again, should beat teams like the Mavericks. MSU in the recent past had success banging the Gophers around, but the U has size and speed.
Gophers coach Don Lucia said on his Monday radio show the Mavericks are probably deeper up front. Not sure who would believe that. Both teams had trouble scoring last weekend. The U tied the U18 U.S. national team 2-2 and beat Canisius, the lowest scoring team in the nation -- under one goal per game -- 1-0. The Mavericks lost two 5-1 games at St. Cloud State.
If the Gophers get decent goaltending, they should find a way to beat the Mavericks even through Mike Hastings, a former Lucia assistant, will have them fired up. He is a first-year coach with a lot of passion. Prediction: Gophers sweep
St. Cloud State (4-2, 2-0) at Denver (4-0, 2-0): These two teams share first place in the WCHA. Both are 2-0-0, both have won four games in a row and both can score. SCSU is averaging 4.5 goals per game, DU 5.0 goals to tie for the national lead. The Huskies are a bit banged up. Biggest loss is captain Ben Hanowski, a forward out with an upper body injury from last weekend. DU had a goaltending corp as deep as anyone led by junior Sam Brittain. Sophomore Ryan Faragher of SCSU is pretty good. This series could come down to the hottest goalie with pucks flying all around. Prediction: Split
Colorado College(3-3-0 0-0-0) at Wisconsin (1-2-1, 1-0-1): This is a big weekend in Badgerland. On Friday, the ice at the Kohl Center will be named in honor of former coach Bob Johnson. ...The Badgers hold a 108-64-9 advantage over CC in their all-time series, but the Tigers have won the last four games, including 4-2 and 4-1 wins on the road Nov. 18-19 last year. ... Junior wing Mark Zengerle (13-37-50) is the nation's top returning player for points. .. Wisconsin is coming off a 2-2 tie and a 2-0 win at UMD; junior Joel Rumpel was in nets in both games and had 29 and 35 saves. ... Colorado College coach Scott Owens, in his 14th season, played high school hockey at Madison Memorial. ... His team have won four in a row against the Badgers, but after a 3-0 start are 0-3, losing to UMass-Lowell 3-1 and to Cornell 2-0 and 3-1. ... Cornell scored all its goals on the power play and shut out CC for the first time in 57 games. Prediction: Badgers sweep
Nebraska Omaha (2-3-1, 0-1-1) at Michigan Tech (2-4-0, 1-3-0): Sophomore Josh Archibald has a goal in the past three games for UNO. ... The Mavericks are averaging 35.6 shots per game and have outshot opponents in all six games. ... UNO is 5-2-1 against Tech all-time, 3-0-1 in Houghton, Mich. ... Two Huskies are off to strong starts offensively. Dennis Rix has five goals and one assist in six games, Blake Pietila four goals and one assists. ... Tech is 21.4 percent on the power play, which is second in the WCHA, but only 77.4 on the penalty kill, which is 11th. ... Freshman goalie Pheonix Copley is 1-4-0 with a high 4,06 goals-against average and a low .854 save percentage. Prediction: UNO sweeps
Boston University (3-1, 3-1 Hockey East) at North Dakota (2-1-1, 1-0-1): The Terriers swept a home-and-home series with UMass last weekend, winning 5-2 and 3-2. ... Sophomore forward Cason Hogmann has a team-high six points on three goals and three assists. Teammate Wade Megan, who had a team-high 20 goals last season, also had three this fall. ... Freshman goalie Matt O'Connor is 3-0 for BU with a 1.75 gaa and a .954 save percentage. ... Terriers coach Jack Parker has 879 wins in his 40th season. ... North Dakota beat Alaska Anchorage 4-1 and tied the Seawolves 3-3 in overtime last weekend. ... UND is 9-0-2 in its last 11 games at The Ralph. ... UND senior Corban Knight had two goals last weekend and has 99 career points. Prediction: UND sweeps
Three WCHA teams are idle: Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth.
Fun fact: The three teams giving up the fewest shots on goals are Western Michigan, 19.25, the Gophers, 20.20 and Nebraska Omaha, 20.67.