Gophers Close First Half at Michigan State
Dec. 4, 2013
The top-ranked University of Minnesota men’s hockey program closes out the first half of the 2013-14 season with the team’s first-ever Big Ten Conference road series this weekend in East Lansing, Mich., against Michigan State. Friday’s series opener is set for 6 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North PLUS, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN) while Saturday’s finale is set for 3 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, BTN2Go.com, MyTalk 107.1). Both games will be played at Munn Arena in East Lansing.
Big Ten Firsts/Last Time Out
Last Friday’s early game time proved to be fruitful for the Gophers, who turned out a 4-1 win over Wisconsin for the first official win in Big Ten Conference history. The next evening, Minnesota rallied to beat the Badgers 4-3 for the first-ever Big Ten Conference sweep.
On the Road Again
Last weekend’s sweep over Wisconsin closed out a three-week, six-game homestand for the Gophers at Mariucci Arena with the team heading out onto the road for the first time in nearly a month this weekend. The Gophers went 5-1-0 during the home stretch and are 8-1-1 at Mariucci Arena this season. Meanwhile, the Gophers are 3-1-0 on the road in 2013-14.
No active Gopher has as many career points as junior captain Kyle Rau with the forward needing just one more point to reach 100 for his career (36-63--99 in 94 games). Rau, who tallied three points (one goal, two assists) last weekend, would be the 80th Gopher to hit 100 career points and the first since Erik Haula did so in 2012-13. Minnesota is 53-8-3 all-time when Rau tallies a point.
Ambroz Earns Big Ten First Star
Seth Ambroz led all Division I players last week and set a career high for goals (four) and points (four) in a series last weekend against Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the Big Ten named the junior forward its First Star of the Week for his performance. Ambroz pocketed two goals in both wins including both game winners (Saturday’s came with just 26 seconds left in regulation. Ambroz is the seventh Gopher to earn accolades this season (nine total).
How Sweep It Is
Last weekend’s sweep over the Badgers was Minnesota’s third overall this season and second in the last three series. The Gophers, who also opened up the season with two wins at the Ice Breaker Tournament, started series play with a sweep at Bemidji State (6-3, 5-1) and then picked up another nonconference sweep over Minnesota State (4-1, 3-0).
Fasching, Skjei Named to WJC Prelim Roster
Freshman forward Hudson Fasching and sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei were both named to the U.S. National Junior Team preliminary roster by USA Hockey on Wednesday morning. The pair will compete for roster spots at the Don Lucia-coached team’s training camp Dec. 15-18 at Mariucci Arena with the final roster being announced Dec. 23. The U.S. squad will then compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.
It All Adds Up
The Gophers own five of the nation’s top 10 figures for plus/minus this season including the five best figures in the Big Ten Conference. Sam Warning and Hudson Fasching are tied for third nationally at +16, Mike Reilly sits tied for fifth at +15 and Jake Parenteau is in 10th at +13. In the Big Ten, the Gophers actually boast 11 of the top 14 plus/minus ratings.
Serratore Heats Up
In 119 career games, senior Tom Serratore has tallied 21 points with 14 goals and seven assists. But the forward has hit a hot streak over the last five games with five points (two goals, three assists). Serratore has also tallied in four of the last five games after recording a point in only one of Minnesota’s first nine games.
Wilcox Against the Best
In 52 career games played, Adam Wilcox has posted a 35-10-6 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 .922 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.
Gophers in the Polls
For the seventh week in a row, the Gophers rank No. 1 in both the U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO) poll (988 total points, 41 of 50 first-place votes) and the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll (508 total points 31 of 33 first-place votes). Last weekend’s series with Wisconsin was the fifth time this season the Gophers have met a nationally ranked opponent. Minnesota owns a 6-2-1 record against nationally ranked teams this season.
Among the Big Ten
With an average of 4.14 goals per game, Minnesota is one of only two teams in the nation averaging more than four goals per game (Boston College is the other at 4.21). Among Big Ten teams, the Gophers lead the league in wins (11), winning percentage (.821), goals scored (58) and goals scored per game (4.14).
Pacing the Big Ten
Sam Warning leads all Big Ten skaters with 20 points and 15 assists in 2013-14. Meanwhile, Hudson Fasching (6-8--14) and Justin Kloos (5-9--14) are tied with JT Compher (5-9--14) of Michigan for the league’s rookie scoring lead.