Buckeyes come to Mariucci

Brian Deutsch

A week after dropping two games to Colorado College, the 10th-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team will return to action tonight against Ohio State.

Men’s Hockey Preview

WHERE: Mariucci Arena
WHEN: Tonight and Friday night @ 7:05 Exhibition game Saturday @ 7:05 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net North
RADIO: KBGY 107.5/KUOM 106.5 Tonight and WCCO 830 AM Friday

Minnesota leads the all-time series 10-1-0

In an extremely rare occurrence, the Gophers will host the No. 19 Buckeyes in a Thursday/Friday series and then play an exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team on Saturday.

All three games are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. face-offs at Mariucci Arena.

Not since 1973 has Minnesota played in games for three straight days during the regular season.

That year, the Gophers beat Harvard on Dec. 27, and then lost to St. Louis the next day before dropping another exhibition contest to the Czech national team on the 29th.

However, the team went on to its first-ever national championship that season.

The ’73-’74 team had something else in common with this year’s squad of Gophers – they also lost their first two league games.

But that team didn’t have to deal with losing a pair of close games to the Tigers (3-1 and a 2-1 overtime loss), then have a quick turnaround and play three games just five days later.

“We just have to make sure that we are getting ready to play and that our heads are in the game,” senior forward Evan Kaufmann said. “(We need to) try to come out this weekend with a little bit more effort than we did last weekend.”

If the Gophers (2-2-0 overall, 0-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) hope to be successful this weekend, they’ll have to do a better job of finding the net – something they’ve consistently been able to do against Ohio State.

In 11 games between the two programs, Minnesota holds a 10-1-0 record over the Buckeyes and the team has averaged over six goals a game against the Central Collegiate Hockey Association foe.

minnesota

(2-2-0 overall, 0-2-0 WCHA)
National Ranking: 10

MINNESOTA STAT
The Gophers only loss to Ohio State occurred in the third-place game of the 1998 Dodge Holiday Classic. The Buckeyes scored with seven seconds left to play to win the game 6-5.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sophomore forward Jay Barriball – The Gophers’ leading goal-getter last season hasn’t found the net yet this year. He has, however, set up goals three times this season.
Freshman defenseman Cade Fairchild – Fairchild is making an immediate impact on Minnesota’s blue-line crew. The Duluth native picked up his first goal with the Gophers last weekend in a 3-1 loss to Colorado College.

“What went on five years ago or last year really has no bearing on what’s going to happen this weekend,” coach Don Lucia said. “I’m hoping that we will play better in front of the home crowd, and that will get our feet moving a little better. Usually, young guys play with more confidence at home.”

This season Minnesota was touted to be an offensive power-house – along with practically every other team in the WCHA.

But the Gophers only managed to snag a pair of goals in their conference-opening series with Colorado College last weekend despite putting 63 shots on goal over the weekend.

“We’re not discouraged about not scoring a lot of goals, it will come,” senior forward Mike Howe said. “We just have to concentrate on working as hard as we can in practice and doing the things that will create scoring chances – everything else will fall into place.”

Ohio State

(2-2-0, 0-2-0 CCHA)
National Ranking: 19

OHIO STAT
The Buckeyes are 1-0 against the WCHA this season after defeating Wisconsin 5-3 in the championship game of the Lefty McFadden College Hockey Invitational.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior forward Tommy Goebel – Through four games, the fifth-year senior leads the Buckeyes with two goals. His 12 goals and 14 assists last season makes Goebel Ohio State’s top returner.
Senior forward Tom Fritsche – Fritsche’s three points have him in a three-way tie for the team’s top point-getter this season. His short-handed goal in the first period was Ohio State’s only tally in last Friday’s 5-1 loss to Miami (Ohio).

Lucia had a multitude of explanations for the team’s lack of production, including a young team without junior Ryan Stoa and sophomore Mike Carman and going up against a good defense and a hot goalie in the losses to the Tigers.

“You’re not going to win many games scoring one goal,” Lucia said. “We have to get to that three or four mark to win games.”

Game notes

ï Lucia said there was a good chance all three goalies could see the ice this weekend although he wouldn’t comment any further.

ï Although the Gophers are on a skid of 15-straight power-plays without a goal, a slump isn’t unusual for the team. Last season, Minnesota was just 3-for-24 going into the Ohio State series, but went 8-16 against the Buckeyes.