Among the first goals set by the Gophers before each season is to win an unofficial state championship. That means winning as many games as possible against the four in-state rivals -- Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State -- and winning the newly formed North Star College Cup.
After Friday's 4-2 loss to No. 1 Minnesota State in the North Star College Cup semifinals, part two of that goal is out of reach. The Gophers' record against Minnesota rivals isn't pretty either, but still can finish above .500.
They enter Saturday's 4 p.m. consolation game against Minnesota Duluth with a 4-4 in-state record.
"We're the Gophers and every year we come in and say 'We want to win the state.' That's one of our first goals," Gophers senior forward Travis Boyd said. "Obviously we didn't do that, but we got another big game [Saturday] against Duluth and the last time we played them it didn't go well either."
The Gophers were swept by the Bulldogs in mid-November.
Vinni Lettieri returns to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during a scuffle with Wisconsin last weekend. His return will allow the Gophers flexibility to move Kyle Rau to the wing on the first line, and put Travis Boyd at center on the second line with Hudson Fasching and Sam Warning.
These new line combinations produced 99 shots on goal against Wisconsin, offense that the Gophers missed in Friday's first-round loss to the Mavericks. See the full lines below.
Friday replay: Minnesota State lives up to top ranking with 4-2 win over Gophers, read Friday night's game story and postgame blog. Watch postgame video of Gophers senior forward Travis Boyd, Gophers coach Don Lucia, and Mavericks goaltender Stephon Williams. Also, Bemidji State made up for lost time with a first-round upset of No. 7 Minnesota Duluth, read full recap.
• Gophers' Saturday lines
Forwards (left wing, center, right wing)
Kyle Rau, Justin Kloos, Connor Reilly
Sam Warning, Travis Boyd, Hudson Fasching
Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, Seth Ambroz
A.J. Michaelson, Christian Isackson, Leon Bristedt
Defensemen (left, right)
Brady Skjei, Jack Glover
Mike Reilly, Jake Bischoff
Ben Marshall, Michael Brodzinski
Adam Wilcox, Nick Lehr, Ryan Coyne
• Twin Cities products in the Bulldogs' lineup
Dan Molenaar, Soph. defenseman, Eden Prairie
Derik Johnson, Sr. defenseman, Bloomington
Kyle Osterberg, Soph. forward, Lakeville
Tony Cameranesi, Jr. forward, Plymouth
Willie Raskob, Soph. defenseman, Hastings
Nick McCormack, Fr. defenseman, Ramsey
Austyn Young, Fr. forward, South St. Paul
Charlie Sampair, Jr. forward, White Bear Lake
Justin Crandall, Sr. forward, Lakeville
Cal Decowski, Jr. forward, Andover
Alex Fons, Sr. goaltender, Minnetonka
Matt McNeely, Jr. goaltender, Burnsville
Note: Minnesota Duluth has 18 players from the state on their roster.
• 2nd Annual North Star College Cup
Xcel Energy Center
Bemidji State 4, No. 7 Minnesota Duluth 0
No. 1 Minnesota State Mankato 4, No. 17 Gophers 2
Consolation game: No. 17 Gophers vs. No. 7 Minnesota Duluth, 4 p.m. -- FSN, 1500-AM, BTN2Go
Championship game: No. 1 Minnesota State vs. Bemidji State, 7 p.m. -- FSN
For more on the North Star College Cup read the full series preview.