The top-ranked Gopher men’s hockey program continues Big Ten play this weekend with a two-game series against Notre Dame at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The action starts on Friday, Jan. 15 at 7:00 p.m. CT with the series finale set for Saturday, Jan. 16 at 5:00 p.m. CT.
LOOKING TO START A NEW STREAK AND KEEP ONE GOING TOO
After starting the season out with 10-straight wins, Minnesota suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday to snap the program’s 12-game winning streak dating back to last season. The 10-0-0 start was the program’s best since the team went 18-0-0 over the course of the 1939-40 campaign. The Gophers bounced back after the loss last Saturday to pick up a Big Ten split in Madison and will now look to start a new winning streak this weekend against Notre Dame. Minnesota has won eight-straight games at 3M Arena at Mariucci dating back to last year’s Big Ten quarterfinal series against Notre Dame.
AGAINST THE IRISH
Minnesota holds a 33-22-5 all-time record against Notre Dame in a series that began in 1925. Over the last two seasons, the two Big Ten rivals have played 12 times with 11 of those contests ending in either a tie, a one-goal deficit or an empty net goal. The opponents played each other seven times over the 2019-20 season with a 3-2-2 record while Minnesota rallied to win its best-of-three Big Ten quarterfinal series over Notre Dame at 3M Arena at Mariucci after the Irish ended the Maroon & Gold’s 2018-19 campaign with an overtime win in the Big Ten semifinals. Sammy Walker leads all active Gophers with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 12 career games against Notre Dame while Brannon McManus (five goals, four assists) and Blake McLaughlin (four goals, five assists) have nine points each against the Irish.
With classes about to start up again at the University of Minnesota, the Gophers celebrated one of their best semesters in the (virtual) classroom during the fall. As a program, the Maroon & Gold set a new program record with a 3.35 cumulative grade point average as a team while men’s hockey recorded a team term grade point average of 3.46 — second in program history after last spring’s 3.64. As a department, the University of Minnesota set a new school record with a 3.41 cumulative grade point average as the Gophers increased the statistic for the sixth-straight semester. Additionally, Cullen Munson, Mason Nevers, Sampo Ranta and Sam Rossini were named to the Dean’s List for the fall semester.
THE FINNISH FINISHER
Sampo Ranta leads all Big Ten skaters with eight goals this season and is tied for third in the NCAA in the category. The junior, who has points in nine of Minnesota’s 12 games this year, had his seven-game point streak (tied for his career long) snapped on Sunday. Ranta is the second Finnish player in Gophers history after currently Nashville Predators forward Erik Haula and just the fourth European player to letter at Minnesota in the program’s 100-year history after Haula, Leon Bristedt and Thomas Vanek.
KOSTER SETS THE PACE
Newcomer Mike Koster leads all Big Ten freshmen defensemen with seven points (two goals, five assists) this season and ranks tied for second nationally among freshmen defensemen (one point off the national lead).
MOTZKO ON IRISH
Gopher head coach Bob Motzko offers a scouting report on the Fighting Irish, who have played some good ones with Minnesota:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)