series preview: gophers at st. cloud state
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday at National Hockey Center
TV, radio: FSN Plus, 1500-AM
Gophers at a glance: After a weekend off, the No. 1-ranked Gophers (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) will play their next four games on the road, beginning with their only series this season against St. Cloud State. They continue to lead the nation in team offense (3.77 goals per game) and are ranked fourth in team defense (1.85 goals against per game), third on the power play (.248) and sixth on the penalty kill (.892). Junior forward Erik Haula will move back to center, his usual position, this weekend after playing at wing for four games while nursing a hand injury. He was reunited in practice last week with LW Sam Warning and RW Zach Budish on the second line, while Nate Condon, who had centered that line while Haula was hurt, moved to right wing with C Nick Bjugstad and LW Kyle Rau. Coach Don Lucia expects to continue tinkering with his lines. Special teams may not come into play much this weekend. St. Cloud State is the least-penalized team in the nation at 8.5 penalty minutes per game, while the Gophers average only 10.7.
St. Cloud State at a glance: A six-game unbeaten streak lifted the Huskies (17-10-1, 14-5-1) to No. 8 in the USCHO.com poll, their highest ranking of the season. They lead the WCHA with 29 points and are unbeaten in their past nine league games. Senior forward and co-captain Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown leads NCAA Division I players in assists (30) and is second in points (38). He is eight assists short of the team single-season record. Forward Jonny Brodzinski of Ham Lake is on a 13-game point streak and has 13 goals, the most of any Division I freshman. Junior defenseman Nick Jensen of Rogers has 18 assists, second among all defensemen, and Kalle Kossila's 25 points rank fourth in the nation among freshmen. Sophomore Ryan Faragher has a 1.89 goals-against average in WCHA play and a .927 save percentage.