All eyes will be on No. 8 of the Gophers when they play North Dakota at 6 p.m. Friday at Ridder Arena in a WCHA women's hockey showdown.

That's the jersey Amanda Kessel will wear in her return to the team after an absence of more than 2½ seasons. She missed one season to play for the U.S. team in the Olympics and since then has been out because of lingering concussion symptoms.

Kessel, who had an NCAA- best 101 points for the Gophers in the 2012-13 season, joins one of the most prolific offenses in Division I hockey. Minnesota is averaging 5.15 goals per game — second behind Boston College (5.32), and it's power play is at a startling 48.6 percent — more than 20 percent better than the next-best team.

The players on the Gophers' top line — Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi and Sarah Potomak — are in the nation's top six in points per game, all between 2.04 and 1.80.

The No. 3 Gophers (24-3, 19-3) and the No. 8 Fighting Hawks (14-8-4, 11-7-4-2) have split their past two series. Minnesota is on a 29-game unbeaten streak at home (27-0-2).


• Senior midfielder Hannah Cade of Lakeville North was named Gatorade's girls' soccer player of the year in Minnesota. She scored six goals and had 15 assists in leading the Panthers (18-1-1) to the Class 2A state semifinals. She also led a defense that gave up only three goals all season.

• The Gophers wrestling team (7-7, 3-3) will meet Northwestern (1-9, 0-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in a dual meet in Evanston, Ill. Minnesota has a 13-match winning streak over the Wildcats.

• The Gophers men's and women's swimming and diving teams will host the three-session, two-day Minnesota Challenge this weekend at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Twenty-three teams from the region will compete. The first session will be 6 p.m. Friday, the next two will start at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

• Junior LaShay Holt scored 26 points, and went over 1,000 for her career, in St. Catherine's 62-60 loss to St. Mary's on Wednesday night.

• James "Pinky" Boyd, a member of the Hamline class of 1943, will be recognized at halftime of the Pipers-St. Thomas men's basketball game on Saturday at Hutton Arena. Boyd was a member of Hamline's first national championship team in 1941-42 and is in the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. He served in World War II and will be honored as part of a tribute to veterans.