The Gophers open their season unofficially with an exhibition game against Lethbridge on Saturday night.

Many other WCHA teams are playing, too.

* Colorado College played the University of British Columbia on Sunday. ... The Tigers have three returning goalies, including senior Joe Howe and junior Josh Thorimbert, who rotated in goal last season. Howe played high school hockey at Wayzata. Also back are six defensemen and 11 forwards.

* Wisconsin plays the under-18 U.S. national team at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Kohl Center. Then the U18 team plays at Notre Dame the next night. ... Edina forward Connor Hurley has joined the U18 team this weekend, replacing an injured player.

Here is the complete list of exhibition games involving WCHA teams:

Games  Saturday

Brock University (Ontario) at Michigan Tech

Lethbridge at Gophers

Manitoba at North Dakota

British Columbia at Denver

US Under-18 Team at Wisconsin

University of Regina at Alaska Anchorage

Games Sunday

Manitoba at Bemidji State

Lethbridge at Minnesota State

British Columbia at Colorado College

Games Monday

Lethbridge at Nebraska Omaha

* A media teleconference with all 12 WCHA coaches is set for Tuesday

THREE WCHA D-MEN NOTICED has picked three WCHA defensemen among its 10 to watch. The are Denver's Joey LaLeggia at No. 2. He was the WCHA and national rookie of the year with 38 points in 43 games. Called mobile and skilled offensively.

Gophers junior Nate Schmidt is No. 4. He jumped from point as a freshman to 41 as a sophomore. Comments on him: shoots well, moves well.

Junior Nick Jensen is No. 6. Called electric. Had six goals last season.


Junior forward Amanda Kessel of the Gophers was named the WCHA's offensive player of the week, while teammate Hannah Brandt, a forward, was picked the rookie of the week.

Kessel had three goals and three assists in the Gophers' sweep of Colgate. Brandt had five goals and four assists.

Goalie Danielle Butters of Minnesota State Mankato was named the defensive player of the week. She stopped 76 shots as the Mavericks tied Wisconsin 2-2 in overtime and lost to the Badgers 3-2.