The Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team will restart their 2019-20 season this weekend by hosting the 27th Mariucci Classic at 3M Arena at Mariucci. It will be an All-Minnesota affair reminiscent of the short lived North Star Cup when the Gophers host Bemidji State in one semifinal Saturday night and St. Cloud State and Minnesota State play in the other Saturday afternoon. The Gophers will play one of the Huskies/Mavericks on Sunday night in their the third place game or Championship game depending on Saturday’s results.
The Gophers have not had the best start of the season. They resume play with a 5-9-4 overall record and sit in fifth place in the Big Ten with 13 points in ten games played. It was expected that the youngest team in college hockey might struggle out of the gate, but the same mistakes have hampered this team repeatedly in their first 18 games on the season, and they will need to correct that if they want to make a run for Big Ten Playoff home ice in the second half of the season.
Minnesota will be missing junior wing Sampo Ranta for the Classic as he is with the Finland World Junior team playing in the World Championships. Ranta has been a bight spot for the Gophers in the first half of the season and is tied for the team points lead with 11.
Minnesota will hope to get back in gear against an opponent they have dominated in their history. Minnesota is 19-2-1 all-time against Bemidji State and is 12-1 all time at Mariucci. Their last game was in the third place game of the last North Star Classic where the Gophers defeated the Beavers 4-0. That game also was the only one between the two teams that any current Gopher player has played in as senior Ryan Zuhlsdorf is the only player on the Minnesota roster to have ever played Bemidji State.
The Gophers have had overall success in the Classic over the years. Minnesota has won the tournament in 14 of the last 16 seasons and has a 36-13-3 record all time in Classic games. The Classic has taken a two-year hiatus due to scheduling issues, but the Gophers are the defending champion having defeated Mercyhurst in the semifinal and UMass in the title game.
Minnesota will have another reason to play well Saturday night as the Gophers will honor former Gopher All-American and head coach Doug Woog. Woog who died earlier this month will be honored with a jersey patch the team will wear the remainder of the season.
Additionally Saturday night the Gophers will all wear “Wooger” name plates on their gold jerseys against the Beavers.
Minnesota will continue the tribute by hosting Doug Woog night on Saturday January 25th when they host Ohio State. Members of the Woog family and Gopher Hockey alumni will be on hand for the night of celebration in honor of Coach Woog.
After the Mariucci Classic the Gophers will get one more weekend off before beginning the final half of the Big Ten season at Michigan State on January 10th and 11th.
HOW TO WATCH
2019 MARIUCCI CLASSIC
Who: Saturday vs Bemidji State; Sunday vs St. Cloud State/ Minnesota State
Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 7 PM Saturday and Sunday
TV: Fox Sports North +
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 AM/ 103.5 FM/ IHeart Radio App