Good evening from 3M Arena at Mariucci, where the Gophers will try to complete a sweep of Wisconsin (7 p.m., FSN) on a night in which Minnesota’s 1979 NCAA championship team will be honored in front of a sold-out crowd.
The Gophers won Friday’s series opener 9-4 in what might have been the closest five-goal victory in hockey history. Minnesota led 3-1 entering the third period, saw Wisconsin cut it to 3-2, pushed the lead back to two goals at 5-2, then saw the Badgers trim it to 5-4 with 7:32 left. Wisconsin had the momentum, but the Gophers responded with power-play goals by Tommy Novak and Brent Gates Jr. and two even-strength goals by Sammy Walker to pull away.
Walker, however, won’t play in tonight’s series finale because of an undisclosed reason. The speedy freshman ranks fourth on the team with 17 points on eight goals and nine assists and is a plus-8.
Senior center Darian Romanko returns to the lineup after being sidelined the past eight games after suffering a sprained ankle on Dec. 28 against Ferris State. Romanko will center the fourth line, with Garrett Wait and Ryan Norman as his wingers.
With Walker out, Gophers coach Bob Motzko moved Tyler Sheehy back to the top line, with Rem Pitlick at center and Gates on the left wing. The other lines are Novak centering Blake McLaughlin and Brannon McManus, and Scott Reedy centering Sampo Ranta and Jack Ramsey.
Defensive pairs are Ryan Zuhlsdorf-Jack Sadek, Ben Brinkman-Tyler Nanne and Clayton Phillips-Robbie Stucker.
Mat Robson will start in goal for the Gophers.
Nice touch by Gopher Digital Productions, with retro graphics on the scoreboard on a night the Gophers honor the ’79 team. Members of that team will be saluted on the ice during the first intermission.