Top-Ranked Gophers Head to Madison
Feb. 4, 2014
The top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey program hits the road this week for a rare Thursday-Friday series at No. 12 Wisconsin in Madison. Thursday’s series opener is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with Friday’s finale scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. puck drop. Both games will be televised live on the Big Ten Network and streamed live on BTN2Go.com. Radio broadcasts for both games will be on the Gopher Radio Network and 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota enters the weekend with a 159-87-21 all-time record against the Badgers including a 6-3-1mark in the last 10 meetings. The two long-time rivals met in what was the first official Big Ten Conference game on Nov. 29, 2013 in a 4-1 Minnesota win with the Gophers picking up the first sweep in conference history the next night with a 4-3 win over the team’s border rival.
14 Games: Best in the Nation
After last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Michigan State, Minnesota is unbeaten in its last 14 games, dating back to Nov. 24, 2013 in a 2-6 loss to Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers are 10-0-4 during that stretch while the unbeaten streak is the longest active streak in the nation. It is the longest unbeaten streak in the Minnesota record book since the team went 22 games without a loss during the 2006-07 season (Oct. 13-Jan.7) -- the Gophers were 19-0-3 during that stretch.
Reilly Stays Hot
Sophomore Mike Reilly has tallied at least one assist in each of the last five games -- a career best stretch for the defenseman. Reilly, who has eight assists during the five games, now leads all Big Ten defensemen in points (22, tied for seventh nationally) and goals (eight, tied for fourth nationally)
Nate Condon has skated in 143 consecutive games for Minnesota entering the weekend and is the program’s most veteran player at 144 games (36-58--94). Condon has only missed one game in his four years with the program -- Oct. 9, 2010 against UMass (the second game of his freshman season). Condon needs just six points to reach the 100-career point milestone.
Fasching Closes the Gap
The Gophers currently feature the top two scoring freshmen in the Big Ten in Justin Kloos (9-14--23, tied for sixth nationally) and Hudson Fasching (9-13--22, tied for ninth nationally). Fasching has tallied a point in five-straight games for the Gophers entering this weekend -- it is his longest stretch of consecutive games with a point since starting the season with a point in eight-straight games.
No player on Minnesota’s roster has been more of a lightning rod for the team’s success that junior captain Kyle Rau. The team is 57-8-5 all-time when the forward tallies a point including an incredible 36-3-4 mark since the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Additionally, the Gophers are 28-2-0 all-time when Rau tallies more than one point in a game (6-0-0 this season) and are 6-0-0 when he tallies more than one goal in a game (1-0-0 this season). Rau had the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Michigan State.
Ambroz Against the Badgers
In nine games against Wisconsin, junior Seth Ambroz has tallied six goals (tied with Nate Condon for most points among active Gophers against this weekend’s opponent). Four of Ambroz’s goals came earlier this season with two goals (including both game winners) in each game against the Badgers. Ambroz also had an empty-net goal earlier this year against Wisconsin -- the forward is tied for first nationally with Cole Gunner of Air Force with four empty-net goals this year. Ambroz’s 11 goals and 17 points this season are both career highs for the junior.
Looking at Shots
After being outshot in three-straight games heading into last Saturday (the Gophers have only been outshot seven times all year), Minnesota rebounded with its lowest shots allowed total of the year -- giving up just 19 shots on goal to the Spartans in a 1-0 shutout. The total was the lowest Minnesota has allowed since giving up 18 to Bemidji State on March 13, 2013 in a 2-1 overtime win for Minnesota to open up the WCHA First Round Playoffs.
Minnesota’s rookie class has contributed 36 of the team’s 95 goals this season (38 percent) and the freshmen lead the nation as a class with an average of 1.38 goals per game. Only Boston College has more goals from its freshmen with 37.
Defense Chipping In
Twenty-two of Minnesota’s 95 goals this season have come off the sticks of defensemen with the blue-line crew ranking second nationally in the nation in goal scoring. Only Denver has more goals from its defense with 23 this season.
More on the Streak (Penalty Kill)
Since Minnesota’s last loss in November, the Gophers have only allowed three power-play goals by opponents in 41 attempts (.927 kill rate, 38-for-41). Only Boston College’s penalty kill (.946, 53-for-56) has been more successful in that span.
Home Sweet Home
The 2013-14 season marks the 20th campaign in which the Gophers have called Mariucci Arena home. The facility was officially opened on Aug. 21, 1993 with an alumni game. Since opening Mariucci Arena, Minnesota is 286-113-45 on home ice. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Gophers are 44-10-6 on home ice including an 11-1-3 mark this year (Minnesota’s outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium was technically scored as a home game, but does not factor into this record).
The Rest of the Way
Minnesota closed out the 2013-14 nonconference season with an 11-2-3 record -- the fourth best winning percentage among all NCAA teams at .781 (first among Big Ten teams) with 11 nonconference wins tied for first nationally with Notre Dame. The Gophers now play 10-straight Big Ten games to close out the rest of the season, starting with this week’s series at Wisconsin. Minnesota then hosts Michigan (Feb. 14-15) and Penn State (Feb. 28-Mar. 1) and closes out the regular season at Ohio State (Mar. 7-8) and Michigan (Mar. 14-15). Minnesota then competes at the inaugural Big Ten Tournament at Xcel Energy Center (Mar. 20-22) before hosting the the NCAA West Regional at the X (Mar. 29-30).
Wilcox Earns Big Ten Praise
Goalie Adam Wilcox earned his third Big Ten weekly honor of the season and second in a row with Second Star accolades after leading the Gophers against Michigan State last weekend. Wilcox (18-2-5) leads the Big Ten and is tied for second nationally with 18 wins this season.
Wilcox Moves Up the Record Book
Adam Wilcox’s 19-save shutout last Saturday against the Spartans was his third of the season and sixth overall as a Gopher. The South St. Paul, Minn., native is now seventh all-time at Minnesota in career shutouts and needs one more to tie Kent Patterson, Steve DeBus, John Blue and Jim Mattson for third all-time at Minnesota. Kellen Briggs holds the Gophers record for career shutouts at 13 with Adam Hauser in second at eight.
Wilcox Against the Best
In 64 career games played, Adam Wilcox has posted a 43-10-10 overall record. Out of those games, 28 have been played against nationally ranked foes with the sophomore netminder recording a 17-8-3 record against ranked teams.
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 363-184-64 record in 15 seasons at Minnesota and boasts an overall coaching record of 642-339-93 Only Doug Woog (1985-99) has more wins at Minnesota with 390.