The Gophers could be back to full strength for only the sixth time this season when they travel to Michigan to resume Big Ten play this weekend. Coach Don Lucia said junior defenseman Brady Skjei has been cleared to play and should return to the lineup after missing a month with an upper-body injury.
The Gophers were missing four players for last Friday’s Mariucci Classic first-round game and two in Saturday's consolation game. They’ve played only five of their 16 games this season without someone missing because of an injury or for other reasons.
However, freshman defenseman Ryan Collins missed Wednesday’s practice with the flu and is questionable for this weekend.
“It just seems like whether it’s an illness or an injury or world juniors. … Leon could play the opening weekend because of the two games he had to sit out. We just haven’t had a lot of weeks where we can say this is what our team is going to look like,” Lucia said. “So that’s something we’re going to have to try to develop here in the second half of the year.”
Senior forward Kyle Rau, junior defenseman Mike Reilly and junior goaltender Adam Wilcox were among the 59 players nominated for the Hobey Baker Award on Tuesday. Fan voting for the award that honors college hockey’s best player is underway and Rau leads the early race.
“It says a lot about our Minnesota fans, they’re awesome," Rau said "It’s pretty cool. It’s a great honor to be recognize as one of the better players in the country."