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Golden Nugz 1.31.12- Minnesota Gopher Hockey Moves Up in the Polls and the Pairwise

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A quick hockey-centric Nugz before we go all Gopher football recruiting crazy tomorrow (I'm 99.9% sure Andre McDonald keeps his commitment this time but that .1% still scares the bejeezus out of me). Actually two quick football links. FIrst, per Sid, Moses Alipate is moving to TE. And he's apparently down to 250 pounds. He has to be the first QB ever to lose weight by moving to TE. With Tom Parish transferring and Alipate switching positions, the Gophers are suddenly VERY young at QB behind MarQueis Gray.

Good story in Sunday's Strib about Minnesota football recruits and how many the U grabbed in this year's class. Specifically the bond that's developed between Isaac Hayes and Jonah Persig since they committed to the Gophers. The two even went to see Philip Nelson play at State to show their support for their soon-to-be teammate. I know this class isn't rated highly at all by the experts, but I'm really excited for this group. So much potential, so much underrated talent, and so many Minnesota kids. We'll have more on the 2012 class starting tomorrow, but I'm excited already.

Also from that same piece is news that Hayes is going to play center instead of guard. GN had mentioned recently that center is the one position on the line he's a little worried about, and perhaps the coaches felt the same way? Or they just see Hayes' best position in college being center and that's where they want to play him. I really doubt we see either Hayes or Persig in 2012, but the position switch for Shaft is intriguing to say the least.

Ted Glover of OTE looks at Big Ten recruiting and what it all means- or doesn't mean.

The Gophers pulled off a much needed sweep of the St Cloud State Huskies over the weekend, and another pack of Huskies, these from Michigan Tech, gave Minnesota some help too by shocking UMD not once but twice in Duluth.The results of a most glorious weekend came out today as, per Roman, Minnesota moved up to second in the USCHO.com poll (Duluth received 28 of 60 first place votes, Minnesota grabbed 21 and the other one went to...6th ranked Ferris Bueller? My mistake, it's Ferris State. Still, even Ferris Bueller doesn't deserve a first place vote. Everyone knows that. Put down the Molson there Ferris State voter guy...and pick up some Kill-Aid!!) and in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll the Gophers leapt over the Bulldogs for the top spot, picking up 18 of 34 first place votes (UMD got the other 16. And Ferris State got zero. So there).

Of course, in the one poll that actually matters for making the NCAA tourney, the Gophs still have some work to do, as they're 9th this week in the Pairwise Rankings. The Gophers sit just ahead of Maine and Miami and just behind future B1G hockey conference mates Michigan and Ohio State, but still a ways to go to move into the top four with the likes of Duluth, BC, something called Mass-Lowell and... FERRIS?!?!?

Minnesota still has plenty of time, and plenty of opportunities to keep movin' on up in the Pairwise, starting with Denver (The sunshine state! Denver. GORGEOUS! Gorgeous) in two weeks. They'll get this weekend to rest up, and hopefully remember just how the hell they won a Friday night game for once, bottle it, rinse, repeat. Or whatever they did Friday night when they beat SCSU 2-1, just keeping doing that. Believe it or not- and I'm guessing you can- that was their first Friday night victory in a WCHA series since beating Minnesota State on December 2nd. Yep, almost two solid months without a WCHA Friday night victory (well ok not really. Probably a good time to point out they had almost a month off from the WCHA schedule with Christmas, Hanukkah, Fesitvus-for the rest of us- and New Years, and the Hall of Fame game debacle). And just when I thought they might trade their Friday night letdowns for Saturday, the Gophs beat St Cloud again (called, I believe, a "winning streak"), running their Saturday night record in WCHA games this season to 10-0. It's Minnesota's first three-game win streak since winning four in a row against UAA and UND back in early November. So yeah, this was definitely a much needed sweep.

Hopefully they can carry this momentum through the week off and into Denver next weekend. A couple of wins in the "I thought the Rockies would be a little rockier than this. That John Denver's full of..." would be huge for their Pairwise rankings, and we'll see what happens in the WCHA this weekend while the Gophs are idle.