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Series preview: North Dakota at Gophers

  • January 17, 2013 - 10:41 PM
Gophers hockey gameday VS. NORTH DAKOTA• 7 P.M. FRIDAY, 5 P.M. SATURDAY MARIUCCI ARENA • FSN, 1500-AM

Gophers at a glance: The top-ranked Gophers (16-3-3, 8-3-3 WCHA) are 6-4 against North Dakota in the past 10 meetings, including a 4-2 victory in the NCAA West Region final last spring, and are 81-52-6 in home games in the series. Home has been particularly comfortable for the Gophers this season; they are 11-1-1 at Mariucci Arena and have won five in a row. Their eight-game unbeaten streak has been fueled by a balanced attack and superb special teams. The Gophers are the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 in offense (first, 3.82 goals per game), defense (third, 1.61 goals per game), power-play success (second, .250) and penalty killing (seventh, .905). Sophomore winger Kyle Rau, who has six goals and three assists in his past four games, has five game-winning goals this season; the Gophers are 15-0-1 when he records a point. Junior Nate Schmidt's six assists in last weekend's sweep of Alaska Anchorage made him the top-scoring defenseman in the country with 22 points.

North Dakota at a glance: To succeed this weekend, Gophers coach Don Lucia said, his team must limit North Dakota senior forwards Danny Kristo and Corban Knight. In the past seven games, the linemates have combined for 14 goals and 18 assists. Kristo, of Eden Prairie, is ranked third in the nation with 1.50 points per game; Knight is ranked fifth with 1.48 and is on a 17-game point streak, the longest for a North Dakota player in 10 years. Their performances have paced sixth-ranked North Dakota (13-6-3, 8-3-3) to a 7-1-1 record in its past nine games. Lucia said North Dakota is deeper this season, with defensemen who move the puck well and a solid goaltender in Clarke Saunders (2.28 goals-against average, .919 save percentage). Kristo is among six Minnesotans on the roster.

RACHEL BLOUNT

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