Gophers coach Don Lucia said the five seniors on his team this season were a bit like soldiers.

"They were not superstars," he said. "They were good players and good people. They were good, strong two-way hockey players."

The five are co-captains Tony Lucia and Ryan Flynn and Mike Carman, all forwards, and David Fischer and Brian Schack, two defensemen.

Jay Barriball, a sixth senior who missed most of the season, will be returning. He suffered an early season knee injury in practice and had surgery. Barriball has asked for a medical hardship year, which the NCAA should approve, giving him another year of eligibility.

The other five? "I felt they could be good complementary players," Don Lucia said, "and that's what they have done.

"All will graduate this spring. All are great people and represented the university well. They will be missed."

Lucia said the Gophers are in a good frame of mind for Wisconsin. The first game of the series will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Target Center, the second one at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mariucci.

The Badgers are 14-3-3 since Dec. 4.


* On Badgers' series: "Imagine it's the final weekend and we are playing Friday and Sunday."

* On Target Center ice: "The ice looks good. We skated on it [Wednesday]. ... The sight lines are good."

* The last time the Target Center was the host for hockey was for the Final Five in 2000. "Our guys are looking forward to [Friday's game]. It's a nice building."

* On last home sweep: "The Colorado College weekend was the best and most consistent we have played at home all year." ... The Gophers are 3-1 in their last four games, sweeping CC at home, splitting with UMD on the road.

* On Friday's 3-2 win at UMD: "We gutted out a good win on Friday."

* On Saturday's 3-0 loss at UMD: "I broke down the video and Jordan [Schroeder] himself had four good chances in the first 25 minutes.... If we had scored in the first period we would have put more pressure on UMD."

* On goalie Alex Kangas: "Alex kind of quietly has had a really good year. He has the second best save percentage in league games. The thing that has hurt more than anything else is the lack of offensive support for Alex."