Home ice has been kind to the Gophers — they’re 5-1-0 at 3M Arena at Mariucci — and that’s where they will to bounce back from a rough series last weekend on the road.
The No. 7 Gophers (7-4-1) to host a pair of nonconference games against a No. 13 Harvard team (2-3-0) that made it to the Frozen Four last season and finished with 28 victories.
The last time these two met, the Crimson beat the Gophers 4-3 in overtime in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic Jan. 2, 2016. It was the first time the Crimson beat the Gophers since their 1989 overtime victory in the NCAA title game. The Gophers hold the edge against the Crimson overall, with a 22-7-0 lifetime record against them and a 4-0-1 mark in the past five meetings.
A 5-4 overtime loss last Friday in Michigan snapped a four-game winning streak for the Gophers. It also snapped a solid penalty-kill streak when the game-winning goal came with a Gophers player in the box for tripping. The Gophers had killed 17 straight penalties prior to that goal at 3:24 of overtime. The Gophers were up 3-2 through two periods but allowed Michigan to come right back, force overtime and get the conference win.
The Gophers had a 4-0 lead by 4:23 of the second period in Saturday’s game before they let Michigan erase the deficit.
For captain Tyler Sheehy, at least one good thing came out of the tie in Michigan: He scored a career-high four points (1 goal, 3 assists). The junior forward and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year has tallied seven points in the past three games. He has three goals and seven assists this season.
Sophomore forward Rem Pitlick leads the Gophers with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 12 games so far this season. He’s riding a six-game point streak; a point Friday would set a career-long streak. He’s also scored points in 10 of the 12 games.
Junior goaltender Eric Schierhorn has started 87 straight games for the Gophers. He holds a .913 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA this season.
Offense has come from all over the Gophers lineup this year. They boast 15 different goal scorers and only Brannon McManus has a multi-goal game with his hat trick in the 6-3 victory over Penn State on Oct. 15.
For the Crimson, this marks the first time they’ll play a Big Ten opponent in a two-game series since coming to Minnesota Jan. 8-9, 2010. They lost in overtime in the Frozen Four semifinals last spring to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Expect Crimson junior forward Ryan Donato to take plenty of shots at the net. He leads his team with 29 shots on goal in five games (5.80 per game ranks second in NCAA). Goaltender Merrick Madsen has two shutouts in five games this season.
Harvard’s team includes four players from the Twin Cities: freshman forward Henry Bowlby (Edina), freshman defenseman Benjamin Foley (Edina), junior defenseman Jacob Olson (St. Paul/Hill-Murray) and senior forward Jake Horton (Oakdale).
Heather Rule will be covering tonight’s game for the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter at @hlrule and look for her work on startribune.com/sports after the game.
No. 7 Gophers vs. No. 13 Harvard
• 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
TV: FSN Plus.