gophers series preview

5:40 P.M. friday and 4:07 p.m. saturday at penn state

TV/radio/live stream: BTN on Friday and ESPNU on Saturday; 1500-AM both nights; BTN2Go on Friday and WatchESPN on Saturday.

Gophers (16-9-3, 7-2-3 Big Ten): Kyle Rau and the senior class are coming to life at the right time. The six veterans combined for nine points and six of the Gophers’ eight goals in last weekend’s sweep against ranked Michigan. Rau scored four of the goals, including a hat trick that earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Goaltender Adam Wilcox arguably had his best performance of the season in Saturday’s shutout of the nation’s best offense. Everything continues to improve for the Gophers: They returned to the USCHO top 20, they’re on a six-game unbeaten streak, and they’ve climbed from the bottom of the Big Ten into a first-place tie with Michigan. The progress test will continue this weekend again a much improved Penn State team on its home ice.

Penn State (15-9-4, 7-4-1): The Nittany Lions stumbled last weekend and missed an opportunity to sit alone in first place. Michigan State ended Penn State’s eight-game unbeaten streak and set up what will become a tight finish for the Big Ten regular-season championship. Only two points separate the Nittany Lions and Spartans from first-place Michigan and Minnesota. Penn State, only in its third year with a varsity program, continues to receive votes in the USCHO poll and was briefly ranked at No. 19, last week. Junior forward Casey Bailey is the nation’s 15th-best scorer with 20 goals and 14 assists, leading college hockey’s 10th-best offense (3.39 goals per game). The Nittany Lions hope to get back on track at Pegula Ice Arena this weekend, where they have a 10-1-3 home record.