The Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team heads to Madison this weekend for a huge Border Battle series against the Wisconsin Badgers. Minnesota will look to build off of a home sweep of then #6 Ohio State last weekend and continue a run up the Big Ten standings.
With the sweep of the Buckeyes last weekend the Gophers currently sit in fifth place in the Big Ten standings with 22 points, just one point back of 4th place Notre Dame. With seeds two through four getting a first round home series in the Big Ten tournament, only a few points can make a huge difference in March. Meanwhile the Badgers sit in last place with 17 points on the season, but a Badger sweep would see Minnesota and Wisconsin swap places with the Gophers headed to the cellar.
Minnesota was led last week by junior Brannon McMannus. His six points led all NCAA skaters last weekend and earned him both the #1 star of the week honor in the Big Ten, abut also in the country. Sampo Ranta was the Big Ten’s #2 star of the week with three goals in the sweep. Add to that good goaltending by Jack LaFontaine and it all added up to six points for Minnesota.
Wisconsin enters the weekend off of a road split at Notre Dame. The Badgers won 6-4 on Friday before falling 5-2 on Saturday. Wisconsin has a high scoring offense led by freshman Cole Caufield. He scored his first carer hat trick and now has 16 goals on the year to lead the Big Ten and is third in the nation. Minnesota will catch a break as one of the other highly touted freshmen Alex Turcotte will miss the series with an injury.
In net the Badgers will most likely go with Jack Berry. Berry played both games last week in South Bend and played in the Saturday game against Minnesota in November where Wisconsin tied the Gophers and got the extra conference point in a shootout. Berry has a 2-3-1 record on the season with a .898 save percentage and a 3.32 goals against average.
This series will be a key one for both teams as they go forward towards the last month of the season. While neither team is most likely NCAA tournament bound, they can still play the role of spoiler down the stretch and this can be a confidence boost, or a leaden weight on the team’s future depending on the results.
HOW TO WATCH:
Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Wisconsin Badgers
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin
When: Friday 7PM; Saturday 8PM
TV: Fox Sports North (Fri); Fox Sports North Plus (Sat)
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 1130 AM/103.5FM/I Heart Radio App