Good evening from 3M Arena at Mariucci, where the Gophers will open a two-game series against No. 1 Notre Dame at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). Coming off a sweep of Michigan State that ended a five-game Big Ten losing streak, the Gophers will try to beat a top-ranked team at home for the second time this month. On Jan. 7, they defeated No. 1 St. Cloud State 2-0 to split a home-and-home series. Notre Dame had been undefeated in Big Ten play before falling 5-0 to Wisconsin on Sunday at Chicago's Untied Center. The loss ended the Fighting Irish's 16-game overall win streak.
Sophomore goalie Mat Robson (3-1, 1.62 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) will get the start in goal for the Gophers. The Mississauga, Ontario, native posted a 34-save shutout in the victory over St. Cloud State.
The Gophers have shuffled lines a bit from last weekend, with Brannon McManus on Tommy Novak’s line with Tyler Sheehy, and Jack Ramsey on Mike Szmatula’s line with Leon Bristedt.
Entering the game, the Gophers (15-12-1, 6-9-1-1 Big Ten) were tied with Wisconsin for fifth in the conference with 20 points, three behind fourth-place Penn State and four behind third-place Michigan. Notre Dame (19-4-1, 13-1) is in line to get a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, and the second- through fourth-place finishers would have home ice advantage in the best-of-three first round.
The game also has big implications for the Gophers in the PairWise Rankings. Notre Dame is No. 1 in the PairWise, and the Gophers moved up to No. 9 this week after falling 15th in the aftermath of being swept at home by Michigan on Jan. 12-13. Minnesota has played three teams currently in the top four of the PairWise and is 3-3 against them -- 0-2 vs. the Fighting Irish, 1-1 vs. St. Cloud State and 2-0 vs. Clarkson.
Here are the lines and defensive pairings:
Brent Gates Jr.-Casey Mittelstadt-Rem Pitlick
Brannon McManus-Tommy Novak-Tyler Sheehy
Leon Bristedt-Mike Szmatula-Jack Ramsey
Tyler Nanne-Darian Romanko-Scott Reedy
Ryan Lindgren-Jack Sadek
Steve Johnson-Ryan Zuhlsdorf
Clayton Phillips-Jack Glover
Mat Robson in goal.
Cam Morrison-Jake Evans-Colin Theisen
Dylan Malmquist-Andrew Oglevie-Cal Burke
Dawson Cook-Mike O’Leary-Bo Brauer
Joe Wegwerth-TBD-Jack Jenkins
Jordan Gross-Andrew Peeke
Dennis Gilbert-Justin Wade
Bobby Nardella-Tory Dello
Cale Morris in goal.