Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Weekend Hockey Preview: Minnesota at Wisconsin

Series: Minnesota leads the all-time series 148-78-15 in a rivaly that dates to 1922.
Puck Drop: Friday and Saturday, 7:07 p.m. central time
Television: Fox Sports Net North
Announcers: Frank Mazzocco and Doug Woog

While there is an ongoing debate among Gopher fans on who truly is the No. 1 rivalry, the answer is quite simple: Wisconsin. It is a rivalry that extends all the way back to 1922.

That rivalry resumes this weekend as Minnesota travels to the Kohl Center for a pivotal two-game series among teams deadlocked for the fifth position in the standings. If either team sweeps, it clearly gives them the edge on the fifth and final home seed for the playoffs. A split and the series in four weeks in Minneapolis could be even bigger.

My rivalry rankings:
1. Wisconsin (better dead than red - it's the two biggest state schools)
2. St. Cloud State University (they got Bot Motzko - former assistant - and they have the most annoying fans)
3. North Dakota (there has been some great battles recently in the regular and post-season)
4. Minnesota-Duluth (they also wear maroon and gold)
5. Minnesota-Mankato (I guess you can call it a rivalry - one-sided, though)

Note: All five teams would likely rank Minnesota as their No. 1 rival.

The keys to a succesful series for the Gophers are three-fold:
1. Get a solid goaltending performance from Kangas on Friday night. There is no louder crowd in college hockey than in the Kohl Hole - they will be all over Kangas. If he can win Friday, that confidence will carry over to Saturday.
2. Convert on the power play. Over the past four games, the Gophers failed to score in 14 attempts. It comes after the Gophers had been 10-for-59 (17.0 percent) over the previous 14 games. That stretch followed an 0-for-30 stretch that spanned seven games. For the season, Minnesota ranks 49th of 59 Division I teams on the power play at 12.4 percent.
3. While the Gophers have been strong at the start of games, they’ve been outscored 34-18 in the third period, including 24-7 in WCHA games. Minnesota has to get better when they have a third-period lead.

* The Gophers have won six of the last eight meetings, including four of five games last year. Minnesota is 4-1 in its last five games at the Kohl Center. The Gophers split games in Madison last year, losing 2-1 and winning 1-0.

* The neighboring rivals will play four times in the next four weeks and are deadlocked in a battle for home ice in the first round of the league playoffs.

* Through 26 games, the Gophers have scored the exact same number of goals as their opponents with 69 apiece. In fact, Minnesota and their opponents have also each scored 14 power play goals.

* I'm leaving for Madison tomorrow, so I'll give you the scoop when I get back late Sunday evening.


PJS said...

Whoa! Better Dead Than Red! Did you read that lonebadger??? :-)

I think it's pretty safe to pick Wisconsin as the top rival for any Gophers team.

From The Barn said...

Frank, not Doug.

PJS said...

Obviously an explainable typo from my hockey guy. I'll see if I can get in the post to make that change, because if it isn't corrected PJS might lose all credibility!

PJS said...

Obviously an explainable typo from my hockey guy. I'll see if I can get in the post to make that change, because if it isn't corrected PJS might lose all credibility!

From The Barn said...

Your credibility is fine. You don't work for a newspaper.

lurker said...

It's been a couple years since I've been to a hockey game at the U, but I always liked the atmosphere of Minnesota-UMD games. The crowd/players seemed to really get into that rivlary.

I also attended a couple games at the DECC some years ago between the Gophers and Bulldogs, and that was a fun time too.

Jon Marthaler said...

It is in no way "simple." Remember, Minnesota has played North Dakota more than any other opponent, and while UW finishes first in the rivalry rankings for most people, there's plenty that would vote for UND.

And to leave Michigan off (and include SCSU and MSU-Mankato)... yikes.

lonebadger said...

I've never understood why Minny and UW are 'mortal enemies'. There really isn't a single other Big Ten team that anyone would root for other than their own team. But I would think that that the have-nots would stick together a little more. Personally I would rather see Minnesota win than OSU or Michigan in football, or MSU or Indiana in basketball. I guess I'm just weird. Now I LOVE to rattle your cages with some good natured ribbing from time to time, but I'm not getting into fistacuffs to prove that 'my program' is superior to 'your program'. Life's too short.

lonebadger said...

What? No comment on the series this weekend? How about a recap?

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