Friday, March 7, 2008

Weekend Series Prep: Minnesota-Duluth at Minnesota

Series: Minnesota leads the all-time series 124-66-12 in a rivaly that dates to 1952
Drop of the puck: Friday: 7:07 p.m; Saturday: 7:07 p.m. central time
Television: Friday night, tape delay; Saturday is live on FSN North.

Announcers: Frank Mazzocco and Doug Woog
PTFG Prediction: Minnesota gets a split and gets the seventh seed, traveling to No. 4 MSU-Mankato.

Rankings:

Pairwise: Minnesota 12, UMD 13
USCHO.com: Minnesota 14, UMD 18
USA Today: Minnesota 14, UMD not ranked
Krach: Minnesota 11, UMD 13

Articles:

Star Tribune: Roman Augustoviz profiles Robbinsdale's Derek Peltier and Evan Kauffman.

Pioneer Press: Peltier was a busy man this week - Bruce Brothers talks to the captain.

Minnesota Daily: Brian Deutsch says the seniors are looking for wins No. 101 and 102.

Weekend outlook:

Gophers at a glance: Currently, Minnesota is two points ahead of Minnesota-Duluth for seventh place, and three points behind Minnesota State-Mankato and St. Cloud State University fo fifth place. The Mavericks host ninth-place Michigan Tech, while the Huskies at second-place North Dakota, who trails Colorado College by two points.

The Gophers enter this weekend’s series with Duluth on a four-game unbeaten streak (two wins, two ties) and are very much alive for an NCAA Tournament spot. A month ago after a thumping in Denver, who would have thought there was a chance? But, there is.

What needs to happen? Well, a pair of three-point weekends has put the Gophers back into contention to make the field of 16 teams that qualify. Now that they are back in contention, Minnesota needs at least a split with Duluth (we took 3 of 4 points in Duluth, so we'd win the season series) and then we'd likely need to make the Final Five.

As of today, Minnesota sits in twelfth place in the PairWise Rankings, a spot they will likely need to cling to if they hope to make it to the Big Dance.

If they don't make it, they'll likely miss the tournament for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

This weekend’s series will mark the final regular season series for six Minnesota seniors. Ben Gordon, Mike Howe, Evan Kaufmann, Derek Peltier, Tom Pohl and Brent Solei will all play their final regular season contest at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night. The seniors combined for a career record of 100-47-18 over their four seasons.

Duluth at a glance: Minnesota Duluth has lost four straight games and scored one goal over the span. The Bulldogs were shutout twice by Colorado College and then dropped a 2-0 decision and 2-1 overtime setback to North Dakota last weekend.

Duluth can finish no higher than seventh, but there is a big difference in seventh and eighth. The bottom three faces the top three of Colorado College, North Dakota and Denver.

MacGregor Sharp is the team’s leading scorer with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points. Alex Stalock has played all but about eight minutes in goal and has a 2.26 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

Did you know? DQ Cup at Stake
Presented to the team with the highest winning percentage of games among the four Minnesota WCHA teams, the DQ Cup is coming down to the final weekend between Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers can win the cup with one victory, while Minnesota Duluth needs at least a win and a tie to take the trophy. The DQ Cup is in its third year. St. Cloud State won last year and Minnesota won in 2005-06.