Gopher Hockey Preview: Wisconsin

When the Gophers face off against the Badgers on Friday night it will be the 254th meeting between to two storied programs. As always, the game should be an exciting event, played with a passion and tenacity that is only seen in this border battle.

The Gophers are coming off a monster weekend in which they trounced Colorado College by scores of 4-1 and 9-4. Minnesota is looking to continue this scoring trend against the Badgers this weekend. Players such as Taylor Matson and Nate Condon had great weekends against Colorado College.Matson had three goals last weekend while Condon tallied two goals and three assists in the two games. These two hustle players have been a spark for the Gophers all year and are not beginning to reap the rewards of their hard work.

With the loss of Zach Budish to an ACL tear, expect more action for Matson and Condon which should lead to more points for the Gophers. If Minnesota can continue to get contribution from guys like Matson and Condon, while adding the scoring of Jay Barriball and Mike Hoeffel the Gophers could be looking at a sweep in this weekend's border battler.

Minnesota's recent offensive surge will have to compete against a tough defensive Badger team. Wisconsin is ranked first in the WCHA in only giving up 1.88 goals per game. The Badgers accomplish this partially due to their physical and aggressive style of play. The team leads the conference in penalty minutes with 155 on the year. Fans can expect more of the same when Wisconsin comes to the Twin Cities to play.

The Badgers enter Friday with a record of 4-2-1 but the majority of their wins have come against below average teams. One player to who has been playing well from Wisconsin is junior defenseman Jake Gardiner. Jake is the older brother of Gopher freshman Max Gardiner. Jake Gardiner is a solid defenseman who doesn't have a problem scoring or setting up his teammates. On the season, Gardiner has two goals and six assists for eight points while compiling a plus-10 plus-minus rating. Gardiner will no doubt play a huge part in the game while playing in his home state.

If the Gophers want to win they will need to take advantage of the Badger penalties. If the Gophers can continue their offensive dominance, they should be able to hold the Badgers to a minimal number of goals and come away with a win. Minnesota will come out strong on Friday and scrape a 3-2 win away from Wisconsin. On Saturday, the Badgers will score early but the Gophers will battle back for a 4-3 win and a series sweep.

Notes

Coach Don Luccia and Zach Budish discuss the injury that may sideline the star forward for the remainder of the season...


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