Gophers head East to face in-state Duluth

The teams will face off in a different venue for the fifth time this season.

Ben Gotz

Conference changes haven’t hurt the Gophers’ rivalry with Minnesota-Duluth — they’ve just made the location for the faceoffs more inconsistent.

The Gophers and Bulldogs will face off for the fifth time this season when they play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Manchester, N.H. And like all of the games they’ve played this season, Friday’s will be at a different venue.

The Bulldogs (20-15-3) are the No. 2 seed in the region, while the Gophers (23-12-3) sit as No. 3 seed after clinching an automatic tournament bid by winning the Big Ten tournament.

“We’re excited to, once again, be competing for a national championship, and I’m proud of the way our guys stepped up to earn a bid this year,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a release. “We certainly have a great history and rivalry with Minnesota-Duluth, and I’m sure we’ll see some exciting hockey this weekend.”

The top seed in the region is the third overall seed Boston University (25-7-5). The Terriers will play Yale (18-9-5) in the region’s first match-up.

If the Gophers advance past Duluth, they will play the winner of Boston and Yale for the chance to advance to their third Frozen Four in four years.

The Gophers are 1-3 against the Bulldogs this season. The teams opened the season against each other in the Ice Breaker Tournament, with the Gophers skating to a 4-3 win.

But the Bulldogs came back to sweep a home-and-home series with the Gophers in November and scored a goal in the final minutes to win 2-1 in the consolation game of the North Star College Cup.

The two rivals have met in the NCAA tournament only once, a 3-1 Duluth victory in the 2004 NCAA Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“We’re thrilled to be back in the NCAA tournament and to be taking on a team we are really familiar with in UMD,” senior captain Kyle Rau said in a release. “This is a really competitive regional, and we’re looking forward to hitting the ice this weekend.”