SERIES PREVIEW NO. 16 MICH. ST. AT NO. 1 GOPHERS
6 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday at Mariucci Arena
TV/radio: Fox Sports North both nights; 1500-AM.
Gophers at a glance: This is the Gophers' final year in the WCHA before joining Michigan State in the Big Ten next year. ... The Gophers, who shut out Lethbridge 7-0 last Saturday in an exhibition game behind Christian Isackson's hat trick, return six of their top seven scorers from last year, including leading scorer Erik Haula (49 points) and leading goal scorer Nick Bjugstad (25 goals), and all six starting defensemen, including Nate Schmidt (41 points, 28 on the power play). ... Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly are expected to make their collegiate debuts on the blue line.
Spartans at a glance: The Spartans, selected seventh in the preseason coach's CCHA poll, lost 10 letter-winners, including Hobey Baker finalist Torey Krug, from a team that advanced to the NCAA tournament last year. They have 12 new players, including five on defense. One of those blueliners is Shattuck-St. Mary's John Draeger, a 2012 Wild third-round pick coming off a 41-point season. ... The Spartans return five of their eight leading scorers and goalie Will Yanakeff, who sported a .922 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average in 23 games last year.