The Gopher Hockey team rebooted their 2017-18 season with a home sweep of Army West Point last weekend at Mariucci without two of their best players. They should get those players back, at least for the second game of the Saturday/Sunday series and they will probably need them as they take on the #1 St. Cloud State Huskies.
The weekend series was moved to Saturday and Sunday to allow for SCSU coach Bob Motzko to get back from coaching the US World Junior Team to a bronze medal in Buffalo on Friday afternoon. Motzko and SCSU sophomore Ryan Poehling along with Gopher sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren and freshman star Casey Mittelstadt should all be back in Minnesota for the series. The question is whether the players will immediately jump back into action on Saturday, or get a day off before playing in Sunday’s finale.
Mittelstadt has been nothing but a stud for the US team in Buffalo. Up to Friday’s bronze medal game against the Czech Republic, Mittelstadt was leading the tournament in points with 10. His four goals were good enough for second on the US squad behind Keifer Bellow’s 6 goals. Hopefully he will continue his hot streak for the Gophers.
One would expect Minnesota will continue with their goaltender rotation. Eric Schierhorn will most likely get the start on Saturday in St. Cloud and Mat Robson will most likely get the Sunday finale in Minneapolis. Robson was named the Third Star of the Week last week in the Big Ten after a 25-save performance in a 4-1 Gopher win over Army. Meanwhile Eric Schierhorn recorded his 11th career shutout for the Gophers on Friday night leaving him tied in third place in program history with Bud Wilkinson and George Clauson—just two behind Adam Wilcox and Kellen Briggs.
St. Cloud will bring in a very potent offense into the weekend. The Huskies are 9-0-1 at home this season and are averaging 4.06 goals per game this season while only giving up 2.11 goals per game. Jimmy Shuldt leads the Huskies with 22 points on the season, While Robbie Jackson’s seven goals pace the team. In net, Jeff Smith has been the #1 keeper for the Huskies. Coming into the weekend he has a 2.14 goals against average and a .928 save percentage in going 7-1-3. The Huskies backup goalie David Hrenak has even better numbers. Hrenak has a .946 save percent age and a 1.84 goals against average in going 5-1. I’m guessing both goalies will get a game against the Gophers this weekend.
It will be tough, but Minnesota could do great things for their pairwise with a split of the Huskies. It will all come down to the goaltending play—which has been good of late for Minnesota. If they can control the play they have a chance.
How To Watch:
#10 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs #1 St. Cloud State Huskies
Where: Saturday: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, St. Cloud, MN
Sunday: Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN
When: Saturday 6:30 PM; Sunday 6PM
TV: Saturday CBS Sports Network; Sunday Fox Sports North
Radio: 1130 AM, 103.5 FM, IHeart radio App