The No. 4 Minnesota men's hockey team makes its first-ever trip to Vermont this weekend for a two-game nonconference series with the Catamounts in Burlington. After splitting the first-ever meeting between the two teams last year at Mariucci Arena, the Gophers (7-2-2 overall, 4-2-2 WCHA) look to stay perfect in nonconference play this season after picking up a pair of wins over Michigan State (CCHA) and edging Canisius (AHA) earlier this year. Vermont (2-5-2, 2-5-2 Hockey East) will get its first taste of nonconference play this season when the Gophers arrive in town. The Catamounts have a short week to prepare for the weekend's series after falling to UMass 3-1 on Tuesday in Amherst.
Last Time Out
Minnesota picked up three WCHA points last weekend in the first round of the team's Border Battle with Wisconsin. The Gophers skated to a 2-2 overtime tie on Friday night with goals from Zach Budish and Erik Haula before Nick Bjugstad, Tom Serratore and Kyle Rau scored in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Badgers. Serratore's game-winning goal snapped an eight-game point drought for the junior dating back to opening weekend while Rau's empty netter was Minnesota's first of the year. Adam Wilcox earned the starting nod for both games in goal for Minnesota and improved to 6-1-2 in his rookie campaign.
Gophers Against Hockey East
While the Gophers are 1-1-0 all-time against the Catamounts, Minnesota has had great success in general against teams that call Hockey East home. The Gophers are 82-50-7 all-time against the confernece. In addition to two games against Vermont last season, the Gophers also met a pair of Hockey East teams in the NCAA tournament -- topping Boston University 7-3 on March 24 in route to the NCAA West Regional title and falling 6-1 to eventual national champion and current No. 1 Boston College in a Frozen Four semifinal matchup.
Budish Hits the Century Mark
The Minnesota captain had perhaps his best series of the season this weekend with a goal and two assists to push his season total to eight points (two goals, six assists). Furthermore, the redshirt junior played his 100th game in a Gophers uniform on Saturday and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 3-1 Minnesota win.
The Serratore Special
Saturday's game-winning goal came from a rather unlikely Gopher in junior Tom Serratore. The forward tallied just his second goal of the season for the deciding goal and snapped an eight-game point drought in the process that dates back to Minnesota's 7-1 win over Michigan State on Oct. 13, 2012. Serratore, who made his 75th career appearance for the Gophers last Friday, has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in his career and two points this season.
Roll with Rau
Kyle Rau's empty netter in Saturday's win over the Badgers increased the team's record to 7-0 this season when the sophomore records a point -- meaning the forward has notched a point in every Minnesota win this season (and hasn't tallied a point in any of Minnesota's losses or ties). Rau made his 50th career appearance on Friday night for the Gophers and has 53 career points (23 goals, 30 assists). The sophomore ranks second on the team with 10 points this season (five goals, five assists) including a pair of game winners.
Wilcox's Rookie Campaign Continues
Freshman goaltender Adam Wilcox allowed just three goals over the weekend to improve to 6-1-2 in his first season with the Gophers. The goalie's 1.55 goals against average leads the WCHA this season and ranks sixth in the nation while his .778 winning percentage ranks second in the league and ninth in the NCAA. Wilcox's .924 save percentage ranks second in the WCHA and 20th in the nation.
Rare Trip Out East
This weekend's series in Vermont marks Minnesota's first regular-season road trip to the east coast since the 2004-05 season. The Gophers split a pair of 2-1 games with Boston University on 1/2-3/05 and have only returned to the east coast on two occasions since -- the 2008 NCAA West Regional in Worcester, Mass., and the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.
The Gophers are unbeaten at Mariucci Arena so far this season with a 5-0-1 record at home, but the home-ice advantage goes back to 2011-12. The Gopher currently have a nine-game unbeaten 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.
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.