Less than a week after the Gophers football was shutout 31-0 at the hands of Wisconsin, the Gophers men’s hockey team will get its chance to beat the Badgers in a weekend border battle.
The No. 7 Gophers will look to extend their seven-game home winning streak tonight (7 p.m., 3M Arena at Mariucci). They’re 7-1-0 at home this season with the only blemish coming Oct. 13 against Penn State. They’re also 33-7-3-0 overall in Big Ten play at home.
The two clubs come into the weekend with similar records overall, with the Gophers at 9-6-1 and 3-4-1-1 in the Big Ten, while the No. 14/12 Badgers are 9-6-2 and 3-2-1 in the Big Ten.
The Gophers won the last meeting with the Badgers, in a 3-2 decision last February, but the teams split the season series last year, earning splits in each building. The Gophers are 7-3-2 against the Badgers over the past three seasons.
The Gophers were swept in Michigan last weekend at the hands of Big Ten-leader Notre Dame (12-3-1, 6-0-0 Big Ten). Senior forward Mike Szmatula scored two power-play goals in the 5-2 loss last Saturday, getting his first multi-goal game with the Gophers. Sophomore defenseman Tyler Nanne added a pair of assists. The Gophers penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4. The Gophers lost the series opener 1-0 on a power-play goal early in the second period, even though they outshot the Fighting Irish 44-23.
The Gophers are 166-92-23 in the all-time series against Wisconsin going back to 1922. Senior forward Leon Bristedt leads all active Gopher players in his career against the Badgers with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 12 games.
Szmatula is one point away from the 100-Point Club after his goals against Notre Dame last weekend. He has 42 goals and 57 assists in 117 career games. This season, he has scored four goals and two assists. He’s played 44 games with the Gophers after transferring from Northeastern.
Sixteen different players have scored for the Gophers this season, led by sophomore Rem Pitlick with seven tallies and 17 points. Junior forward Tommy Novak has 12 assists and freshman Casey Mittelstadt has four goals and nine assists.
Goaltender Eric Schierhorn has played every game for the Gophers this season. He holds a .913 save percentage and has started 91 consecutive games in goal for the Gophers.
Getting the first goal of the game is always important. Wisconsin in particular has gotten off to some fast starts this season, scoring first in 12 of 17 games (8-3-1 in those games). Last Saturday senior Jason Ford scored just 1:59 into the game against Mercyhurst, a game the Badgers lost 3-2.
Wisconsin sophomore Trent Frederic has points in each of his four career games against the Gophers with three goals and an assist. The Badgers also boast a 15-for-61 power play, leading the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally.
The Badgers are led by second-year coach Tony Granato, the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year and head coach of the 2018 U.S. Olympic team.
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
7 p.m. Friday at 3M Arena at Maricucci
TV: FOX Sports North PLUS