Border Battle Set for Mariucci Arena This Weekend
Nov. 14, 2012
The No. 3 Minnesota men's hockey team returns to action this weekend, hosting the Border Battle with Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena. Friday's series opener is set for 7 p.m. while Saturday's follow-up will begin at 8 p.m. The Gophers are 155-86-20 all-time against the Badgers including a 90-27-7 record at home. The first of four meetings between two future Big Ten Conference teams this season, Minnesota and Wisconsin will also play twice in the second half -- once in Madison and in the first outdoor game in the modern era for the Gophers at the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Last Time Out
Minnesota (6-2-1 overall, 3-2-1 WCHA) is coming off a three-point weekend at Alaska Anchorage after picking up a 4-0 shutout over the Seawolves on Friday night and a 2-2 overtime tie on Saturday. Five of Minnesota's six goals over the weekend came on the power-play including all four on Friday night. Adam Wilcox was named this week's WCHA Rookie of the Week after picking up his second shutout of the season on Friday -- the freshman allowed just two goals all weekend.
Scouting the Badgers
Wisconsin (1-4-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) is coming off a bye week -- the second-straight series in which Minnesota's opponent has had a break before the series. The Badgers were swept by newly ranked Colorado College two weeks ago, losing 5-4 in overtime and 3-0. Wisconsin opened WCHA play against Minnesota-Duluth, winning 2-0 and tying 2-2. Michael Mersch is Wisconsin's top active scorer with four goals this season (Mark Zengerle has 2-4--6, but is currently out of the lineup with an injury). Joel Rumpel (1-3-1) is the Badgers top goaltender this season with a 2.37 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 304:24 this year.
Wilcox Earns WCHA Recognition
Minnesota's freshman goaltender is this week's WCHA Rookie of the Week after allowing just two goals over the weekend and picking up his second career shutout. Wilcox (5-1-1) and his 1.58 goals against average lead the WCHA and ranks fifth overall in the nation. The rookie's .786 winning percentage also is the best in the WCHA and the eighth highest percentage in the NCAA this season.
The Gophers are unbeaten at Mariucci Arena so far this season with a 4-0-0 record at home, but the home-ice advantage goes back to 2011-12. The Gopher currently have a seven-game winning streak at Mariucci Arena dating back to March 3, 2012 -- that night Minnesota topped Wisconsin 2-1 to clinch the MacNaughton Cup. The last Gophers loss at Minnesota came the previous night on March 2, 2012 when the Badgers earned a 4-1 win over the home squad.
Nate Condon is the lone Gopher on this year's squad who hails from the state of Wisconsin (Wausau) and just the third Wisconsin native to ever play at Minnesota (Phil Kessel: 2005-06; Sam Lofquist: 2008-09). Condon ranks third on Minnesota's scoring chart this season with eight points (2g-6a). The Badgers, meanwhile, have six Minnesota natives on roster.
Century Mark for Budish
Saturday's series finale with the Badgers will mark Minnesota captain Zach Budish's 100th career game as a Gopher. The redshirt junior has 63 career points with Minnesota (22g-41a) and has five points (1g-4a) in nine games this season.
Power Play Heats Up
With five power-play goals over the weekend including all four in Friday's 4-0 win over UAA, Minnesota now ranks third in the nation while on the advantage. The Gophers have converted .286 of their chances (12-for-42). Union (.318, 14-for-44) and Bentley (.308, 8-for-26) rank first and second, respectively, in the NCAA this season.
Strong at Both Ends
of the Net Minnesota ranks among the top ten teams nationally both scoring defense and scoring offense this year. The Gophers are tied for eighth in the NCAA this season with an average of just two goals against per game. At the same time, the Maroon and Gold rank ninth in the nation with an average of 3.44 goals scored per contest in 2012-13. Minnesota is tied with defending national champion Boston College for sixth in the NCAA in scoring margin at 1.44.
Helgeson up for the Senior CLASS Award
Minnesota's lone senior -- defenseman Seth Helgeson -- will represent the Gophers as a candidate for this year's Senior CLASS Award. The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Finalists for the award will be announced in February.
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 603-330-84 career record and a 324-175-55 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.