U MEN’S HOCKEY SERIES PREVIEW: NO. 15 GOPHERS VS. OHIO STATE
4 p.m. on Friday; 5 p.m. on Saturday • Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio • ESPNU on
Friday; ESPNews on Saturday; 1500-AM both nights.
Minnesota (18-11-3, 9-4-3 Big Ten): The Gophers’ run of success has stalled entering their final road series. They’ve lost two of their past three games, one in overtime, and settled for a split each of the past two weekends against Penn State and Michigan State. The Nittany Lions and Spartans are behind Minnesota in the race for the Big Ten title, but the Gophers need to prove they can win more than one game a weekend if they hope to make a playoff run. They’ve also developed a habit of giving up the first goal in the past four games and had to recover from a 3-0 deficit to salvage a victory against Michigan State. Coach Don Lucia said he feels a little bit lucky to survive this recent stretch with only two defeats. There’s no more room for error if the Gophers hope to repeat as Big Ten regular-season champions.
Ohio State (11-17-2, 6-10): A mostly healthy roster has transformed the Buckeyes over the past month. They’ve won four of their past six games, including a victory over first-place Michigan and a sweep of Penn State, after overcoming injuries that plagued them throughout nearly two-thirds of the season. Ohio State bumped the Nittany Lions from the top half of the standings last weekend with their first sweep at home. The Buckeyes have won four of their past five at home and will be eager to even the playing field against the Gophers. The only time the Buckeyes play on an Olympic-sized ice sheet this season is at Mariucci Arena, and they were embarrassed as the Gophers outscored them 10-4 in a sweep. The NHL-sized ice in Columbus could provide an edge to the Buckeyes.