MINNEAPOLIS – For the fourth-straight season, the sixth-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team will face No. 11 Michigan during the postseason, this time in the Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals March 16 inside 3M Arena at Mariucci sponsored by Affinity Plus.

The action will be broadcast at 8 p.m. as part of a men’s hockey doubleheader on Big Ten Network along with an audio broadcast on the Gopher Radio Network 1130 KTLK-AM/103.5 FM. Tickets are on sale now at www.GopherSports.com.

In addition to the B1G Semifinal, Minnesota State High School League Girls Basketball will have multiple games in Williams Arena on Saturday, March 16. All fans are encouraged to arrive early for the men’s hockey game and allocate additional time for arriving on campus. Fans who have not obtained a parking pass are encouraged to purchase their parking in advance HERE.

After being the top seed at the previous two Big Ten Conference Tournaments, the Gophers enter the semifinal round in 2024 as the No. 3 seed following a sweep of sixth-seeded Penn State in the quarterfinals last weekend. Minnesota has now reached at least the semifinals in 10 of 11 B1G Tournament since its inception in 2014. It is the second time playing the event as the third seed and the last time that happened, the Maroon and Gold defeated Michigan twice during the 2019 quarterfinals before falling in overtime at Notre Dame in the semifinals. Minnesota has won the B1G Tournament twice since the event began in 2014 as it claimed titles in 2015 and again in 2021, while also finishing as the runner up three times, including each of the last two seasons. The Gophers own a 14-9 record all-time in the B1G Tournament and are 5-3 in the semifinals with wins over Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State in the last three seasons. Under the guidance of Head Coach Bob Motzko, Minnesota has an 11-4 record in the postseason tournament.

Minnesota has been nearly perfect at home late in the season, winning 10 of the last 11 games with only an overtime loss to Michigan as the lone setback two weeks ago. The Gophers won eight straight inside 3M Arena at Mariucci between Jan. 8 and Mar. 1, their longest streak since 2017. The Maroon and Gold trailed for only 10 minutes, 43 seconds during that eight-game winning streak, and have outscored their opponents by a 50-21 margin in 11 home games since early January. The 10 game-deciding goals came from five different skaters with Aaron Huglen and Jimmy Snuggerud each netting three apiece. Eight players have tallied double-digit points during the stretch as Oliver Moore and Rhett Pitlick each have 15 to pace the squad. Justen Close is 9-0-0 in that home run and recorded a 1.71 goals-against average, .942 save percentage, and two shutouts.

The Gophers were called for double-digit penalty minutes in three-straight games during the season’s first month but has drastically changed that narrative over the last three months. Minnesota now leads the nation, averaging 6.8 penalty minutes per game, sitting in the box for six minutes or less in 16 of the previous 18 outings, including a penalty-free contest in the final road test at Notre Dame (Feb. 17). That also incorporates a home win versus Robert Morris (Jan. 13) where the team’s only penalty came on matching minors as it did not allow a single power-play opportunity. The Gophers were whistled for 19 penalty minutes in the first period against Penn State (Mar. 9), which was more time in the penalty box than the previous four games combined.

Gopher forward Connor Kurth of Lindstrom spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm to preview the big game:

Connor Kurth

(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)

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