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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers head to Wisconsin with Chance to Clinch B1G Regular Season Title

A Border Battle sweep gives Minnesota back to back Big Ten titles

Matt Krohn—

The Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team jumps back into action for the home stretch of the season this weekend after it’s final bye week. Minnesota is in Madison to face off against the last place Wisconsin Badgers. Minnesota can clinch back to back Big Ten Regular Season Championships and a bye into the Big Ten Semifinals with either a sweep of the Badgers, or with one win and losses by Ohio State and Michigan. Minnesota swept Wisconsin at home in December by 7-1 and 6-4 scores and have won five of their last six over their rivals to the east by a combined score of 33-10.

Minnesota remained #1 in both polls and in the Pairwise rankings through their bye weekend. They have a 13 point lead over a four-way tie for second place between Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. With a pair of games in hand on both the Nittany Lions and Spartans, the Gophers magic number of points to clinch the conference title is six over both the Wolverines and Buckeyes. Minnesota can earn those six with a sweep over the Badgers, or could potentially clinch as early as Friday night with a win over Wisconsin, an Ohio State loss at Notre Dame and a Michigan loss at Michigan State.

Wisconsin has been a disappointment this season with a 10-18 overall record, but just a 3-15 record in the Big Ten. Badger coach Tony Granato is very much on the hot seat and may potentially be coaching his final two games against the Gophers this weekend. The Badgers come in on a five game losing streak with their most recent win coming against Ohio State three weekends ago. The Badgers will be looking to play spoiler against a #1 ranked Gopher team, which they have done recently. Minnesota is just 1-3 in their last four games when ranked #1 at Wisconsin with the Badgers sweeping a series in 2014 and earning a split in 2021.

Wisconsin will need to try and contain a Gopher team that has the third best offensive attack in the nation. The Gophers average 4.11 goals per game this season while Wisconsin gives up 3.32 goals per game, which ranks 48th in the nation. Offensively Wisconsin is not much better scoring just 2,5 goals per game to rank 44th in the country. Minnesota allows just 2.39 goals per game—11th in the country. Special teams are equally lopsided with the Gopher power play scoring over 25% of the time and the Badger penalty kill killing penalties at less than a 75% rate. The Badgers take the 11th most penalties in the country as well—bad news for a team trying to keep it close and win a low scoring game.

If that will happen it will be up to former Gopher Jared Moe. He’s allowing 3.05 goals per game and has a .906 save percentage this season. Minnesota already tagged him for six goals over two games in December in Minneapolis. Former Gopher commit Cruz Lucius leads the Badgers in scoring with 28 points and nine goals. He recorded three assists in the series in Minneapolis.

The Gophers of course are led by their terrific freshmen in Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley. Both were named as nominees for the National Freshman of the Year Award this week. Snuggerud leads the Gophers with 37 points with Cooley right behind with 36. Snuggerud’s 16 goals are one back of Mathew Knies’ 17 for the team lead. Justen Close continues to backstop the Gopher net with a 2.09 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

Wisconsin is trying to pull out as many stops as possible to juice the crowd against the Gophers this weekend. They are trying a red and white stripe out for Friday night and are celebrating the 50th and 40th anniversary of the 1973 and 1983 NCAA Championships Teams. The Gophers and their fans hope to ruin both and remind all the red and white clad fans that the glory days are long over, and it’s the Gophers who currently reign supreme.

Friday’s game will air only on Bally Sports Wisconsin Plus. If you do not have that channel available you should be able to watch it on the Bally Sports App on streaming services. Saturday’s game will air on Big Ten Network as part of a men’/women’s Border Battle Doubleheader


#1 Minnesota Gophers @ Wisconsin Badgers

Where: Kohl center, Madison, Wisconsin

When: 7 PM Friday, 5 PM Saturday

TV: Bally Sports Wisconsin + (FRI) ; Big Ten Network (Sat)

Stream: (Fri), (Sat)

Radio:1130 AM/103.5 FM/ I Heart Radio App