Hockey City Classic Preview
Jan. 15, 2014
The No. 1 University of Minnesota men's hockey team hosts the 2014 Hockey City Classic on Friday at TCF Bank Stadium. The outdoor double-header starts at 4:30 p.m. with the No. 1 Gopher women's hockey team taking on Minnesota State followed by the Minnesota men against Ohio State at 8:10 p.m. The men's contest will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, BTN2Go.com and 1500 ESPN.
Against Ohio State
Minnesota is 12-1-0 all-time against its new Big Ten Conference rival including a streak of five-straight wins against the Buckeyes. No current Gopher has taken the ice against Ohio State with the two programs last meeting on Oct. 26, 2007 in a 2-1 win for the Gophers.
Last Weekend's Notables
The Gophers returned to Big Ten action last weekend with a trip to Penn State for a rare Sunday-Monday series. Minnesota picked up a 3-2 win on Sunday in the first-ever meeting between Minnesota and Penn State and then recorded the first road sweep in Big Ten Conference history with a 5-2 win over the Nittany Lions.
Wilcox Earns Big Ten Third Star
Adam Wilcox was named the Big Ten Third Star of the Week after backstopping the Gophers to last weekend's sweep over Penn State. The sophomore made 28 saves on Sunday and then matched his career high for saves with 36 on Monday. Minnesota now has a total of 13 weekly honors from nine different players this season.
Eight-Game Unbeaten Streak
Minnesota has gone unbeaten in its last eight contests (6-0-2 during that stretch), dating back to a 2-6 loss to Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 24. The unbeaten streak is the longest active streak in college hockey.
Minnesota's eight newcomers lead all NCAA freshmen classes with 31 goals this season and account for 39.2 percent of Minnesota's 79 goals this year. Justin Kloos leads all Big Ten rookies in points with 21 (tied for fourth nationally), assists with 13 (tied fifth nationally) and goals with eight (tied for seventh nationally). Minnesota also features four of the top 10 freshmen in the conference with Hudson Fasching in second (6-10--16), Taylor Cammarata in fourth (4-9--13) and Michael Brodzinski tied for sixth overall and the top rookie defenseman this season (5-5--10).
Marshall Catches Fire
After tallying just five points in his first 16 games this season, junior defenseman Ben Marshall has caught fire offensively over the last three games with five points (one goal, four assists). Marshall, who has skated in 100 career games with 42 points, 15 goals and 27 assists, tallied the game-winning goal in last Sunday's 3-2 win over Penn State -- snapping a 10-game goal drought in the process.
Next Up -- Hockey Day Minnesota
The Gophers and Ohio State close out the weekend on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mariucci Arena as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. Minnesota is 4-2-1 all-time on Hockey Day Minnesota and has not lost during the day-long event in the last three appearances.
With an expected temperature of 15 degrees for Friday's puck drop, the 2014 Hockey City Classic could potentially set a new TCF Bank Stadium record for coldest event. The Gopher football team previously set the lowest-temperature record earlier this season against Wisconsin on Nov. 23, 2013.
Boyd Breaks Out
Junior forward Travis Boyd's four-game point streak is a career high for the junior forward. Boyd has seven points (three goals, four assists) during that stretch. Boyd's six goals and 15 points are both career highs while the junior sits with nine assists this year -- two off his career high of 11 last year.
Ambroz Nears Century Mark
Junior forward Seth Ambroz will have the distinction of skating in his 100th career game on Friday outdoors as part of the Hockey City Classic. Ambroz has already matched his career-best numbers in goals with nine this season (9-5--14) and needs just two more points and two more assists to match his career bests (9-7--16 in 2012-13). Ambroz had one goal in last year's Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.
Best Offense is a Good Defense
All three goals in Sunday's 3-2 win over Penn State came from defensemen, giving the Gophers' defensive corps 22 goals this season (27.8 percent of the team's 79 goals). Only Denver has more goals from its defensemen with 23 this season. Sophomore Mike Reilly leads all Big Ten defensemen with eight goals this season (tied for third in the nation, one off the national lead of Ben Hutton from Maine and Joey LaLeggia of Denver).
Best in the Nation
With a 15-2-3 overall record, the University of Minnesota leads the nation with a .825 winning percentage this season. The Gophers' two losses are also the fewest in the NCAA this season.
Shutdown Penalty Kill
The Gophers have gone four games without allowing a power-play goal and have only allowed one power-play goal in the last eight games (out of 24 chances for the team's opponents). The Gophers have actually shutout opponents' power-play units in 10 of the last 12 games.
On the other hand, Minnesota has tallied a power-play goal in each of the last six games as well as nine of the last 10 contests. Twos are Trending Minnesota has allowed two goals in each of the last six games (4-0-2 in that span). During that stretch, the Gophers have outscored opponents 22-12.
Lucia Earns 350th Win at Minnesota
Don Lucia earned his 350th win as head coach of the Gophers in Minnesota's 5-4 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 9, 2013.Lucia owns a 359-184-62 record in 15 seasons at Minnesota and boasts an overall coaching record of 638-339-91 Only Doug Woog (1985-99) has more wins at Minnesota with 390.
Bound for Sochi
With Thomas Vanek signed on to skate for Austria at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Minnesota now has four alums heading to Sochi, Russia next month. Vanek will make his Olympic debut while Blake Wheeler, Paul Martin and Phil Kessel will skate for the U.S. team. Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin for the most alums on Olympic rosters with four each. Additionally, former Gopher All-American and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant on the U.S. men's team while former Gopher and Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber will serve as goalie coach for the U.S. women's squad. The U.S. women's squad also features Gopher alums Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel, Gigi Marvin, Anne Schleper and Lee Stecklein while Noora Raty and Mira Jalosuo will skate for Finland's women's team. All together, the University of Minnesota will send 11 players and a total of 13 alumni to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Wilcox Against the Best
In 58 career games played, Adam Wilcox has posted a 39-10-8 overall record. Out of those games, 27 have been played against nationally ranked opponents with the sophomore netminder recording an 16-8-3 record against ranked teams. A Third Team All-WCHA selection last year, Wilcox's .923 career save percentage and 1.96 goals against average are both the best figures in program history. Wilcox needs one more shutout to tie Robb Stauber, Murray McLachlan and Tom Newman for seventh all-time at Minnesota with five shutouts.