So why is the hockey team taking a day off in between nonconference games against Vermont this weekend?
It's all because of football. The Gophers play Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
There is a homecoming parade at 7 p.m. Friday, starting at 15th St. and University Av., and continuing down University to the stadium. A pep fest starts there at 8:30 p.m.
That's why Friday's hockey game is 6 p.m., so fans going to see the Gophers play the Catamounts can get to Mariucci Arena before nearby streets are closed.
There is no hockey game on Saturday to avoid the football crowds after the game.
Gophers coach Don Lucia said he looked at the Vikings' schedule to pick the time for Sunday's game. The VIkings and Packers play at 3:15 p.m.
"Should we play after that game?" Lucia said on Monday night during his weekly radio show on 1500ESPN. "Well we don't want our fans to be depressed. ... So we were thinking they can come to the Gopher game and then after go home and watch the VIkings' game. It also lets Vermont get home [earlier] Sunday, too."
* The Gophers fast start this season is in stark contrast to recent seasons. The U began 2009-10 playing North Dakota and Denver and was a 0-3-1 after four games. In all three losses, the Gophers were shut out.
Last season the Gophers swept UMass the opening weekend, but started the WCHA season 0-3, losing twice to Nebraska Omaha and once to St. Cloud State.
THE DON SAYS
On Vermont: "We are going in blind because we really don't know their personnel. I know they beat Maine last year, they beat Boston College last year. They are a Hockey East team, which tells you it is one of the top conferences in the country and they should be a great opponent."
On 5-4 overtime win over UMD last Friday: "We got down 4-3 when one went off [defenseman] Justin Holl's stick with two minutes to go. We could have died but we didn't."
On Gophers defensemen vs. Bulldogs: "Our defensemen did a nice job collapsing back in front to clear the rebounds, giving one shot. Did they make some mistakes? Sure they did, We turned the puck over a few too many times on the back line, we had some soft gaps. But that is a matter of just gaining more confidence as the year goes on."
On goalie Kent Patterson: "He did what he was supposed to do. He was very sound. They had a lot of shots but a lot of those shots were real perimeter, dump ins from bad angles. He is going to gobble those things up all the time. I just like the fact he did a pretty good job with rebound control."
On WCHA race: "The biggest thing we have to try to do this year, we have to come away with points every weekend. That gives you confidence. Even if you split, you hang in there. But if you go a couple of weeks getting swept, you can fall down in the standings in a hurry."
Last season the Gophers were swept twice in WCHA play, by Nebraska Omaha at home and Minnesota State Mankato on the road. In two other conference series, the Gophers got just one poiht for a tie, against Wisconsin at home and at UMD.
TALE OF THE TAPE
The Gophers and the Catamounts are two of the nation's biggest teams. Vermont is the third tallest team in Division I hockey, the Gophers the second heaviest.
Avg. ht. 6 ft, 0.54 in, 7th 6 ft., 0.84 in., 3rd
Avg. wt. 194.31, 2nd 191.28, 12th
Avg. age 21 years, 3-1/2 months not available
Records 4-0-0 0-0-0
Source: College Hockey News