(Gopher Sports) — The No. 9 Gopher Hockey program returns to conference action this weekend, hosting Michigan in a Big Ten series at Mariucci Arena. Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT while Saturday’s finale is slated for 7 p.m.
December to Remember
The Maroon & Gold enter 2017 after an excellent final month of 2016. The Gophers won four-straight games to close out the year and won five out of six games in the month of December. Minnesota closed out the year by winning the program’s 14th Mariucci Classic title and first since 2012-13 with wins over Mercyhurst and Massachusetts.
Captain Kloos Stays Hot
No Gopher has been hotter during the team’s current four-game winning streak than senior captain Justin Kloos. The forward has notched a point in all four games and has nine points (three goals, six assists) over that stretch. Kloos leads all active Big Ten skaters and ranks third among all active NCAA skaters with 129 points (54 goals, 75 assists) in 135 games. Kloos tallied shorthanded goals in both Mariucci Classic games and is tied for the NCAA lead among active skaters with seven shorthanded goals in his career (his three shorthanded goals this season are also tied for the NCAA lead).
Special Teams Steps Up
Both sides of the Minnesota special teams have been superb during the current unbeaten streak. The penalty kill has gone 16-for-16 in the last four games while the power play has gone 6-for-16 in the last three games. The Gophers power play now ranks fifth in the nation at 244 (20-for-82). Minnesota is now 8-0-1 this year when the Gophers do not surrender a power-play goal.
MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm spoke with senior forward Vinny Lettieri: