Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
Gophers' lines for Michigan Tech ... one change from last Saturday
1st/ Mike Hoeffel-Nick Bjugstad-Nick Larson ... Hoff had four goals and one assist when U swept Huskies in Houghton last Nov. Look for the big guy to score a few goals this weekend
2nd/ Jacob Cepis-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Cepis has a goal in his last three games. Gophers hope he can continue that streak
3rd/ Nate Condon-Pat White-Taylor Matson ... This line has been playing well lately, too, giving U three lines to watch
4th/ Max Gardiner-Nico Sacchetti-Joe Miller ... Max is in for Tom Serrator
1st/ Cade Fairchild-Seth Helgeson ... Fairchild has played his best hockey this season of late
2nd/ Aaron Ness-Mark Alt
3rd. Kevin Wehr-Justin Holl ... Holl in for Nate Schmidt
Goalie: Kent Patterson
Michigan Tech has three Minnesotans in its lineup: Ryan Furne of Oakdale is left wing on top line, Rick Doriott of Blaine is left wing on fourth line. On defense, Dan Sova of Cottage Grove is on the third pair.
Doriott and Sova are hard to miss on the ice. Doriott is 6-5, 225, Sova 6-4, 230.
The Gophers are No. 18 in the PairWise ratings going into this weekend -- they need to be in at least in the top 14 to have a good chance at an at-large NCAA bid.
So tonight, the maroon and gold want this to happen:
Four teams above them in PairWise to lose: No. 14 Wisconsin (at St. Cloud State), No. 15 Western Michigan, No. 16 (tie) Boston University and Darmouth
Also it would be nice -- for U backers -- if UMD won at CC. The Tigers are on the Gophers' heels in the WCHA race.
Here is how the middle of the WCHA standings look now:
5. Wisconsin 25
6. Gophers 24
7, Colorado College 23
If Gophers win and other two lose, this is how the standings would look:
5. Gophers 26
6. Wisconsin 25
7. Colorado College 23
TECH WINS DO HELP RPI
Those who scoff at wins over Michigan Tech should know this. A team's RPI, or ratings percentage index, is the most importatant of the four comparison used in the PairWise rankings. Why? It breaks ties.
And a team's RPI is based on three things:
* a team's winning percentage ... the Gophers have highest RPI of any 13-win team ... this is worth 25 percent
* a team's opponents' winning percetage ... Gophers won't be helped much here by beating lowly Tech ... this is worth 21 percent
* a team's opponents' opponents winning percentage ... wins over Tech mean a lot here because the Huskies have played the fifth toughest schedule of any team ... and this is a whopping 54 percent of RPI
Now the Gophers just have to go out and do what they are supposed to do and sweep the Huskies, who last weekend broke a 26 winless streak (0-23-3)
The Dodge Holiday Classic has been renamed the Mariucci Classic and the format has changed to a predetermined schedule. But one thing doesn't change, the Gophers should win it every year on their home ice.
Here are today's matchups:
Bemidji State vs. Ferris State: Got to go with the Beavers. They are a WCHA team now, almost like family. They have had an up and down season -- Gophers fans know all about that -- but have their moments like a sweep over Nebraska Omaha. Ferris State of the CCHA is great defensively, giving up only two goals per game but ... Beavers win
Union vs. Gophers: The Dutchmen have the nation's best power play and are averaging almost four goals per game. But the U of M is well-rested after an 18-day layoff and anxious to start the second half of the season well. Stay out of the box and the ... Gophers win
The Gophers men's hockey team is used to this. Playing the first game of a series on Friday and the second on Sunday.
Twice Minnesota has done this already because of schedule conflicts with the Gophers football team.
Now the second game of the Gophers vs. Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs series has been postponed from 7 p.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday because of a winter storm. The entire university is shutting down at 1 p.m. Saturday.
This might not be all for the maroon and gold skaters. The other two times they have played on Sundays that are 2-0. They beat St. Cloud State 2-1 on Oct. 24 and then No. 8-rated Michigan 3-1 on Nov. 28.
This Sunday the Gophers will be trying for a sweep of the No. 2-rated Bulldogs. They upset UMD 3-2 on Friday.
Saturday's tickets will be honored for Sunday's game.
The Blue Line Club luncheon this week will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the clubroom at TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers coach Don Lucia will speak as will former Gopher Lance Pitlick, who will do a "show and tell" with some of his hockey training inventions. The program will start at 11:45 a.m. A tour of Mariucci Arena will follow the luncheon.
Tickets are $20 for Blue Line Club members, $30 for non-members. Enter TCF Bank Stadium using the premium seating entrance (Benton County) and take the elevator to the sixth floor.
Reservations are preferred by calling 612-625-2886 or going to www.bluelineonline.net. Parking is available for $3.75 in the Maroon lot next to the stadium.
Chris Miller in again for Roman, who is on a top secret mission today.
Kent Patterson will get the start in goal tonight after Alex Kangas started the past two games, including Friday night's 3-2 loss by the Gophers at Minnesota State, Mankato.
Mike Hoeffel, who missed last night because of illness, will play. Pat White stays in the lineup in place of Max Gardiner on the third line.
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