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Fighting the Big Ten bottleneck

Spartans at a glance: The Spartans (13-12-1, 9-6-1 Big Ten), ranked No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll, are coming off a bye week. They have split their past three series (Gophers, Wisconsin and Penn State), winning the opener in each. G John Lethemon leads the NCAA in save percentage (. 943) and leads the Big Ten in GAA (1.88). His five shutouts lead the Big Ten and are tied for second in the nation. F Patrick Khodorenko is tied for third in the Big Ten with 28 points and is second in goals with 14. Lethemon and Khodorenko are nominees for the Hobey Baker Award.

Gophers at a glance: The Gophers (12-10-4, 7-5-4-3) started their current five-game winning streak with a victory over Michigan State on Jan. 11. The Gophers, coming off sweeps of Ohio State and Wisconsin, have moved into a tie for third place (with Michigan State and Notre Dame) in the Big Ten standings. The trio is just one point behind co-leaders Penn State and Ohio State. F Brannon McManus (8 goals, 12 assists) and F Ben Meyers (6-14) lead the Gophers with 20 points. F Sammy Walker (9-10), who scored the game-winner in both games against Wisconsin, has 19 points.

Numbers: The Gophers, who are 7-1 since Dec. 28, have moved up to No. 18 in the latest PairWise rankings. Michigan State is No. 20.

joel rippel