series PREVIEW: NO. 1 GOPHERS vs. NO. 12 WISCONSIN
4 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio/live stream: ESPNU Friday and FSN on Saturday; 1500-AM both nights; BTN2Go.com both days.
Gophers at a glance: The nonconference schedule didn’t end the way the Gophers (9-2-1) would have liked. Minnesota Duluth handed the top-ranked team arguably one of its worst defeats in years. The 6-2 defeat was referred to as a “spanking” by Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. Gophers coach Don Lucia, however, expects occasional lopsided outcomes with such a young team. Instead, he focused more on the Gophers going 9-2-1 with one of the toughest nonconference schedules. First-line upperclassmen forwards Kyle Rau and Sam Warning were a big part of the Gophers’ early run and will be expected to play a big role in the program’s first Big Ten series.
Badgers at a glance: Wisconsin (4-3-1) has had two weeks to prepare for the No. 1 team in college hockey. The Badgers are coming off a second bye week in November and are eager to “bang the drum a little bit and make some noise,” Eaves said. It’s been a challenge to keep his team fresh, Eaves said, but the team has spent extra time focusing on new techniques and training to keep interest up. Now the test will be translating that to the ice against an old WCHA rival. Eaves expects the Badgers’ performance in the first 20 minutes to set the tone for their weekend.