'Tis the season for tinkering.
Gophers men's hockey coach Bob Motzko used that word several times Tuesday during a session with reporters to describe trying to find the right mix of players to unleash the "magic" he feels exists on this year's roster.
Gophers women's coach Brad Frost is likewise looking to unlock his team's full potential, and now is as good a time as any to experiment.
Both teams face top-notch opponents on the road this weekend: Motzko's team at No. 3 Michigan, Frost's squad at top-ranked Wisconsin. It's the men's team's final series until January; the women host Minnesota-Duluth the following weekend before an extended break as well.
When play resumes, the urgency picks up. It's nice to be ranked now (the men are No. 11, the women are No. 5), but March is more important than early December.
I had a chance to catch up with key players on both teams for Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast: Sammy Walker for the men, Abigail Boreen for the women.
"I would say the team is really good right now. We're just trying to get better as weekends go on and take what we've learned from past weekends and keep trying to improve," said Walker, who is part of Motzko's tinkering as he sees time at both wing and center. "We're just trying to finish strong and bring momentum into break. ... It's always a fun time of year. Playoffs are coming up, and that's when the fun starts for sure. We're a really good team. We're super-skilled. We just need to fine-tune parts of our game."
The Gophers men are 9-7, with all their losses coming by one or two goals.
The women's team, meanwhile, is 12-4. Wisconsin, this weekend's opponent, is undefeated.
"Just relentless forecheck. Getting pucks deep," Boreen said of the recipe for beating Wisconsin. "Playing disciplined in the (defensive zone) and just outcompeting them is what it comes down to."
Sounds like a good plan for December and March. We'll see how far both teams can go.