Men’s hockey Pre-Game report: Gophers vs (3) Wisconsin

by Max Sanders

Due to action around the conference on a busy Saturday night, today’s game between the Gophers and Badgers that could have had serious playoff implications for not just those two teams but the entire conference in terms of playoff seeding instead is now little more than an exhibition game, a chance on Senior Night to fine-tune certain areas before the opening round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.

After Colorado College split its series against No. 1 Denver and North Dakota swept Michigan Tech, the matchups for the first round are set, and the Gophers are now headed to Grand Forks; the Badgers will host Alaska-Anchorage.

Much more on the playoff matchups in Wednesday’s paper. For now, today’s 1:07 p.m. tilt between Minnesota and Wisconsin is a chance for Don Lucia’s squad to seek revenge after Friday’s 3-2 loss at the Target Center.

Five seniors will be playing their final game at Mariucci Arena. Tony Lucia, Ryan Flynn, Mike Carman, David Fischer and Brian Schack all find themselves in the starting lineup for the last time at home. Schack, who filled in briefly while Nick Leddy was hurt, is making his 14th appeareance of the season. The senior has one goal on the season, coming against…you guessed it, Wisconsin earlier in the year at the Kohl Center.

On Friday, the Gophers were on the wrong side of two controversial calls. Two goals were waved off by officials upon review, both on shots by Minnesota. The first play was on a shot by Mike Hoeffel. After punching in a puck in the crease, the forward was determined to have interfered with goalie Scott Gudmandson and the shot was disallowed. The second play was whistled dead before the puck crossed the net, when Gudmandson inadvertently knocked the net backwards.

INJURY UPDATE: Taylor Matson, out since Jan. 2 with an ankle injury, has been officially ruled out for today’s game. Don Lucia talked earlier in the week of possibly getting the forward back for tonight’s game, but according to team spokesman Jim Strick, Matson did not feel his ankle was ready after this week’s practice, and he is thus out for today’s game. His status for the first round will be checked on later this week.

Gophers Offensive First Line:

Left Wing-Jacob Cepis

Center-Jordan Schroeder

Right Wing-Zach Budish

Note: Budish returns to the first line after a one-game stint with Tony Lucia and Patrick White on the third line. While the Lucia-White-Budish line experienced success earlier in the year at Madison, that line failed to produce any points Friday, and Don Lucia has shifted Budish back to the first line, where he has played much of the year.

Gophers Defensive First Line:

Left-Nick Leddy

Right-David Fischer

Goalie-Alex Kangas


Wisconsin Offensive First Line:

Left Wing-John Mitchell

Center-Aaron Bendickson

Right Wing-Patrick Johnson


Wisconsin Defensive First Line:

Left-Brendan Smith

Right-John Ramage

Goalie-Brett Bennett