No. 1 Minnesota returns to action this week with a trip to South Bend, Ind. to take on No. 3/4 Notre Dame. Minnesota staff and players met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss this weekend's difficult-road test after last weekend's bye.
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia believes the bye week came at a good time for the Gophers.
"(The bye week) was good for us. We did have a few guys that would not have been able to play and they are close to 100% now."
Senior captain Nate Condon believes the team is recharged after the week off.
"A bye week always gives guys time to hang out and rest. It gives you time to recover and bring back that fresh lineup."
The Gophers will need a fresh lineup against a Notre Dame team that has won 11-straight games at home dating back to last year. "This is a veteran group," Lucia said. "They are very disciplined and pride themselves on defense, so it will be a really good test for us."
In the last ten years, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the nation's premier college hockey programs. Over the last few seasons, the Irish and Gophers have developed a healthy rivalry.
"They have a lot of talented players. Every time we play them it is something to look forward to and one of those games you circle on the schedule," Condon said.
Coach Lucia's son, Mario, is a forward for the Irish, but coach will try not to approach this weekend any differently. "No family reunions. It is a business trip." Father and son did face-off last year at Mariucci Arena with the Gophers coming out on top.
Gopher defenseman Mike Reilly is also very familiar with Mario Lucia. The childhood friends roomed together two years ago as members of the Penticton Vees.
"It is definitely going to be a fun experience," Mike Reilly said. "I am looking forward to competing against him."
Friday's game is at 7:00 p.m. CT can be seen on the NBC Sports Network. Saturday's contest will start at 6:00 p.m. CT and will be streamed online at NBCsports.com.
-Story by University of Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock