Gophers men’s hockey gameday

7 p.m. at Wisconsin • No TV, 103.5-FM, 1130-AM

U opens Big Ten vs. that ‘red’ team

Preview: Gophers coach Bob Motzko came into the season thinking his offense, with many returning forwards and his penchant for that side of the game, would be his team’s strength. But that hasn’t proved true in three consecutive losses; the No. 16 Gophers (1-3-1) have scored just one goal in each of those losses. While the coach is proud of his special teams and young defense, his offense needs to score goals and win a game to regain its confidence. The Gophers will have that chance when they open Big Ten play with a border battle at No. 20 Wisconsin (4-4). Motzko said in many ways, the Badgers’ season has mirrored the Gophers’, as they both started strong against formidable opponents Minnesota Duluth and Boston College, respectively, but faltered after, including bad losses to North Dakota.

Quotable: “Inside the room, it’s fired up. The red team is always a good team to play against. And over there in the Kohl Center, they pack the building pretty well. So it should be a good weekend. … I do [always call Wisconsin the red team]. I mean, it’s a thing I like to do. Our old coach [Don Lucia] used to call them that because with his history, he had a lot of battles with them, too. So just carry over the tradition.” —junior defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf

Almost a Badger: Gophers winger Sampo Ranta, a freshman from Naantali, Finland, initially signed to play for Wisconsin, but in August, because of reported admission issues, the school granted him a release from the National Letter of Intent he signed a year ago. Ranta quickly switched to the Gophers and has two goals and one assist in five games. The team declined to make Ranta available for comment, but Motzko said “he’s ours” and playing Wisconsin shouldn’t be an issue, as everything is going well for Ranta, who is happy at Minnesota.

Injuries: Gophers sophomore F Scott Reedy is out because of an undisclosed injury.

Megan Ryan