Good To Be Home
The Gophers just completed a tough stretch of their schedule where they played seven of 10 games away from Mariucci Arena. The 10-game stretch included two road games at Alaska Anchorage, Wisconsin and Michigan State. In contrast, the Gophers played only eight games outside of Minnesota all of last season.
Minnesota went 3-3-1 in its last seven road games, but beginning this weekend with Minnesota State the Gophers will play their next seven games at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers are 6-1-0 at home this year and they are excited about playing in front of the home crowd again.
"We have been great at home this year," said senior captain Taylor Matson. "Our fans have been awesome at home this year and I think that plays a factor. With the Olympic sheet of ice, I think that will help us out the rest of the year."
The Gophers, who finished 9-10-3 at home last year, have once again made Mariucci Arena one of the hardest places in the country to play. Minnesota has outscored its opponents 35-7 at home this year and is 3-0-0 in the WCHA. The Gophers have home league shutout wins against North Dakota and St. Cloud State.
"The big thing is the league right now," said coach Don Lucia. "We've played three games at home and seven on the road and the next two weeks is our payback. It doesn't mean anything if you don't take advantage of it. This is an important four-game stretch before we head into winter break."
Playing Minnesota State
The Gophers are 29-8-6 all-time against Minnesota State, but have struggled recently against the Mavericks. Minnesota's senior class is 2-5-1 against the Mavericks and 0-2-1 at Mariucci Arena.
"That is not that great," said senior captain Taylor Matson, who has one win against Minnesota State on the road and one at Xcel Energy Center. "It is an in-state rivalry and a big game. For us, we are looking at this weekend. We are not looking at the past or the current records because they have had a lot of injuries."
Last year, the Mavericks beat Minnesota 3-2 and 2-1 in Mankato despite being outshot 85-56 on the weekend.
Jake Hansen has two career goals in seven games against Minnesota State.
"We controlled most of the play both games, but could not find a way to get it into the net," said senior Jake Hansen. "The turnovers that we had ended up as goals for them. They scored on their chances and that is something that we could not do. We took a lot of shots, but we did not get into the dirty areas in front of the net.
"Their energy has been impressive. They come out and play a physical game. They want to take down Minnesota because we have traditionally been a dominant program in the league. It is also a big in-state rivalry as well. In the past they have come out and played as hard as they could."
Matson and Hansen and the rest of the senior class will try to earn their first home win against Minnesota State this weekend. Matson said the Gophers take a lot of pride in trying to be the best team in Minnesota.
"That is what you dream about as a kid," said Matson. "You grow and see Minnesota taking care of business against Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. You want to be part of that legacy and try and do the same things that they did."