Spartans await Gophers in East Lansing, Mich.

Minnesota will look to reclaim the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy.

Kent Patterson deflects a shot during Saturday against SCSU in Mariucci Arena.

Kent Patterson deflects a shot during Saturday against SCSU in Mariucci Arena.

Dane Mizutani

The Gophers menâÄôs hockey team will battle Michigan State in a two-game series this Friday and Saturday in an attempt to win back the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy, a lesser-known trophy that the Spartans took last season.

This trophy is named in honor of two historic coaches âÄî John Mariucci and Amo Bessone âÄî from each program and is given to the winner of the matchup each year.

Minnesota lost the trophy last year for the first time since 2000, when the Spartans won 5-2 in the College Hockey Showcase in Minneapolis.

No. 3 Minnesota (11-3-0, 8-2-0 WCHA) dropped two spots in the national rankings this week after splitting a series with St. Cloud State on Nov. 18-19.

Kent Patterson recorded his school-record sixth shutout of the season in SaturdayâÄôs victory on the weekend, and Nick Bjugstad recorded his first career hat trick in the same game.

Bjugstad has a three-game goal streak against the Spartans. His 21 points this season tie him for the national lead with Jack Connolly from University of Minnesota-Duluth and T.J. Tynan from Notre Dame.

No. 20 MSU (7-5-0, 4-4-0 CCHA) enters this weekend after splitting a road series with Northern Michigan but is 3-1-0 at home this season.

Sophomores Lee Reimer and Greg Wolfe lead the Spartans; Reimer leads the team with 17 points, and Wolfe is second with 12.

This weekend will also serve as a preview for the new Big Ten hockey conference, which will begin in 2013-14.  

Minnesota and MSU will be joined by Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin in the newly formed Big Ten.