Gophers at Notre Dame • 6 p.m. Saturday BTN, 1130-AM, 103.5-FM
Gophers face stingy Irish
Preview: Minnesota is No. 21 in the PairWise Rankings, which mimic the criteria the NCAA uses to select and seed its 16-team tournament field. That’s too low to earn an at-large berth, so their only route to the NCAAs is winning the Big Ten tournament and its automatic bid. Notre Dame is No. 15 in the PairWise, so a loss would probably end the Irish’s NCAA hopes, too. The other semifinal, on Sunday, has No. 1 seed Ohio State playing host to No. 5 Penn State.
Players to watch: Gophers junior forward Rem Pitlick (21 goals, 24 assists, 45 points) ranks fourth nationally in points and is tied for first with 10 power-play goals. He has eight points in his past five games. Junior goalie Mat Robson (14-11-4, 2.81 goals-against average, .920 save percentage) has allowed five goals over his past four games. … Notre Dame relies on junior goalie Cale Morris (16-12-3, 2.23, .929), who shut out Michigan State 1-0 and 2-0 in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
By the numbers: The Gophers’ power play ranks ninth nationally at 24.1 percent, and their penalty kill is 18th (84.0). Notre Dame’s power play is 14th (22.6), while its penalty kill is 31st (81.1).