"Down the stretch here [we've] started to realize what it takes to win, what it takes to be successful," Gophers center Mike Carman said after his team's 6-1 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday. "You've got to battle every shift. You can't let up. Our D-zone played has improved a lot and that is going to be a real key for us up there."
North Dakota is on a seven-game winning streak, the Gophers have won one in a row.
"It doesn't matter how we are playing, how they are playing," Carman said. "Every time the Gophers play North Dakota all the records and everything else go out the window. We are going to be prepared to battle like we did [Sunday]. We just got to bring it every shift that's all I got to say about it."
Carman said he checked the WCHA scores only once Saturday night. "I kind of saw we would be playing them," Carman said. "But I was more focused on getting ready for today and trying to end on a good note at home."
He called the Gophers big win over the Badgers a good confidence booster for the playoff series with the Fighting Sioux.
TONY LUCIA: U EXCITED TO PLAY SIOUX
"We definitely haven't fared well up in North Dakota," Tony Lucia said on Sunday, "but we had our revenge when they came to our building. We have some good momentum going into the playoff having played some good hockey, Even when we lost some games, we still played pretty well we feel.
"We are excited at the chance to avenge our other loss and tie at the beginning of the year," Lucia said.
The Gophers went to the Ralph for their first series, lost 4-0 in their opener, then tied 3-3. The teams met again in mid-January at Mariucci. This time they tied 3-3 in the first game and the Gophers won the second game 5-1.
"We've played the underdog role before," Lucia said. "We been in this situation back in our sophomore year down in Mankato and being the seventh seed as well.
"We feel we match up well against any team if we can just bring our A game,"
Lucia said the Badgers saw the Gophers at their best on Sunday.
"We definitely stepped up big on the power play," Lucia said, "which we hadn't done recently in the past. To get some power play goals was one of the most important things for the program. Because we definitely need specialty teams going into the playoffs, that's the biggest thing: power play, penalty kill, goaltending and team defense if we are going to have success."
Lucia said the Gophers' sweep of CC, split at UMD and split with Wisconsin has the players feeling pretty good about themselves.
"Alex has been playing outstanding," Lucia said, referring to goalie Alex Kangas. "If you are going to make a push in the playoffs, as you saw our sophomore year, you have to have outstanding goaltending. We know Alex is up for the challenge.
"He hasn't had the best luck up there either. But he has played well every time we have gotten thumped. We haven't played well in front of him. Our most important thing is to play tough in front of him because we know he is going to be the backbone of our team."