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U aims to keep hold on first place

Gophers at a glance: Fourth-ranked Minnesota (17-5, 13-5 Big Ten) swept Notre Dame 3-0, 3-0 in South Bend, Ind., last weekend as G Jack LaFontaine stopped all 52 shots he faced. The Gophers (.722 winning percentage) lead second-place Wisconsin (.667) in the Big Ten standings after the Badgers split a series at Michigan. The Gophers swept Michigan State 3-1 and 4-2 in East Lansing on Dec. 3-4 behind two goals and two assists from C Scott Reedy and two goals each from F Sampo Ranta and C Ben Meyers. Ranta (14 goals, eight assists, 22 points) and F Sammy Walker (11-11-22) are tied for the Gophers scoring lead, and Ranta's 14 goals are tied for second nationally. ... Minnesota's 6.6 penalty minutes per game are the fewest in the nation.

Spartans at a glance: Michigan State (7-11-2, 5-10-1) split a nonconference series with Arizona State last weekend, losing the opener 3-2 before winning the finale 2-1. The Spartans have lost five of their past six Big Ten games, scoring only six goals in that span. Their 1.75 goals per game ranks 50th out of 51 teams nationally, and their power play (4-for-53, 7.5%) is 49th. Goalie Drew DeRidder (2.43, .932) has started every game for Michigan State and leads the nation with 632 saves (31.5 per game). F Mitchell Lewandowski (6-5-11) and D Dennis Cesana (1-10-11) lead the Spartans in scoring, followed by F Josh Nodler (2-8-10). Junior F Mitchell Mattson of Grand Rapids, Minn., has two goals and two assists.

Randy Johnson