|| No. 2 Minnesota vs. Minnesota State
Oct. 31, 2012
The No. 2 Minnesota men's hockey team returns to Western Collegiate Hockey Association action this weekend with a home-and-home series against in-state rival Minnesota State. The Gophers host Friday's series opener at Mariucci Arena before concluding the weekend on Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts. The Gophers (4-1-0 overall, 1-1-0 WCHA) are coming off a 1-0 nonconference win over Canisius last Sunday with Kyle Rau tallying the game's lone goal, and Adam Wilcox making all 20 saves for his first career shutout. The Mavericks (2-2-2, 0-2-0 WCHA) were swept in their league-opening series last weekend at St. Cloud State after going 2-0-2 with three overtime games in their nonconference schedule.
Last Time Out
Kyle Rau scored just 12 seconds into the contest when he tipped in Jake Parenteau's shot from the point to give Minnesota a 1-0 win over Canisius last Sunday at Mariucci Arena. Nick Bjugstad would also earn an assist on the play while the Gophers would outshoot the Golden Griffins 42-20 in the game. Adam Wilcox improved to 3-0-0 in his rookie campaign and picked up his first career shutout with a 20-save game.
The Gophers rallied from a two-goal deficit on Friday evening to the U.S. Under-18 team 2-2 in overtime. After the USNTDP found the net twice in the opening stanza, Minnesota replicated the feat in the second period as Tom Serratore and Nick Bjugstad scored to tie the game at 2-2. Neither team would find the net in the third, and the game would end in a 2-2 tie after the five-minute overtime period. Michael Shibrowski finished the night with 27 saves including 20-straight in the game's final 45 minutes.
Minnesota's 3-2 win over Michigan State on Oct. 20, 2012 gave Gophers head coach Don Lucia his 600th career victory. Lucia -- in his 26th year as a Division I head coach -- currently sits with a 601-329-83 career record and a 322-174-54 record with the Gophers. Lucia is just the 10th coach in NCAA history to win 600 games and the ninth to do so exclusively as a Division I head coach.
Gophers in the Polls
The Gophers remain in second in both major polls this week after last Sunday's win over the Golden Griffins. Minnesota earned 459 total points in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll while the team took 924 points including three first-place votes in this week's USCHO.com poll. Defending national champion Boston College ranks first in both polls.
Former Minnesota assistant coach Mike Hastings is in his first year behind the bench as head coach of the Mavericks. A native of Crookston, Minn., Hastings served as an assistant to Don Lucia during the 2008-09 season before accepting the associate head coach position under Dean Blais at Nebraska-Omaha.
Wilcox Shuts the Door
Adam Wilcox's shutout performance on Sunday improved the rookie to 3-0-0 on the year. The freshman's 1.14 goals against average this season ranks second in the WCHA and sixth in the nation while Wilcox also raised his save percentage to .902 for the season. Keeping it Clean With just 15 penalties being called agains the Gophers through five games this year, Minnesota is the least penalized team in the country -- averaging just six penalty minutes a game (30 total penalty minutes against this season).
Rise of Rau
Kyle Rau's early goal isn't the fastest goal ever by the Gophers -- that goes to Bill Klatt, who scored five seconds into Minnesota's 6-7 loss to Michigan on Jan. 13, 1968. But Rau has proven to factor into Minnesota's chances in this young season. The sophomore is tied for the Gophers scoring lead with five points (2g-3a) with Nick Bjugstad (3-2--5) and Nate Condon (1-4--5). Minnesota is also 4-0-0 this season when Rau tallies a point.
Minnesota is 4-0-0 this year when scoring the game's first goal, and the Gophers have outshot opponents in all five games this season. Minnesota has a 183-101 overall shot advantage on its opponents, and the Gophers are outscoring foes 19-9 for the season. Minnesota's string of consecutive periods with a goal ended at 13 after Rau's first period goal on Sunday -- the Gophers had previously scored in every period this season.