FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE SIOUX HIT TOWN ...

Junior defenseman Cade Fairchild was asked Saturday to compare the present Gophers team to the one which opened the season with a 4-0 loss and 3-3 tie at North Dakota on Oct. 16-17.

"We are definitely a different team, that's for sure, as they will be, too" Fairchild said. "Everyone gets better especially a team like North Dakota. They are known for having a big, strong second half. That's what we need to have."

The Sioux visit Mariucci for the first time in two seasons this weekend.

"Hopefully we can match their intensity," Fairchild said. "Obviously [the Harvard sweep] was a big confidence booster for us. We are going to have to have a good week of practice. We are confident."

Even after sweeping the Crimson, the Gophers are still below .500 at home at 6-7-0.

"Obviously our record at home isn't what we want it to be year," Fairchild said. "But the only place you can start [to change that] is by winning games. Having two under our belt obviously helps us when we are heading into more home stays the next couple weekends."

After the North Dakota series, the Gophers have a home-and-home series with St. Cloud State -- they were 6-0-0 against the Huskies last season -- and then play six of their next eight conference games on the road.

"We did dig ourselves a hole," Fairchild said, "but that is kind of the beauty of this team. Everybody is on board, Everyone is ready to start climbing the rungs of the ladder and get ourselves out of the hole."

Fairchild was relieved Saturday to get his first goal of the season. It came on a power play from near the blue line late in the first period. "It's been that kind of year," he said. "Sometimes they go in. Sometimes they don't. Coaches just kept telling me to just keep shooting the puck. I have generated a lot of chances and stuff. Obviously, it felt good that one finally snuck through."

The Gophers seven defensmen have six goals between them. Kevin Wehrs has two, Nick Leddy, Aaron Ness, Cade Fairchild and Brian Schack one apiece and Dave Fischer and Seth Helgeson zero.