Game Preview: Vermont at Minnesota

The unbeaten Gophers take on the Vermont Catamounts at Mariucci Arena this weekend.

DATE: October 21 and 23, 2011
TIME: Friday, 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m.(CST)
SITE: Minneapolis, Minn.
STADIUM: Mariucci Arena

SERIES: Minnesota and the Vermont Catamounts have never before faced off. All time, the Gophers are 80-47-7 against Hockey East opponents.

RECORD: Minnesota (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA), Vermont (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East)

KEYS TO THE GAME:

-- The Gophers, who are off to a 4-0-0 start, are undefeated and ranked as one of the top teams in the country. Despite the early success, the Gophers shouldn't overlook the Vermont Catamounts this weekend. In order for Minnesota to have a successful series, their young defensive core will need step up and give goalie Kent Patterson some much needed help. After blanking Sacred Heart in consecutive games, the Gophers have given up four goals in both their contests in Duluth. The Minnesota forwards look to have no problem putting the puck away this season so if the Gophers can hold Vermont to three goals or less they should have no problem disposing of the Catamounts.

--Defense will also play a key role for Vermont if they wish to upend the streaking Gophers. Opening their season at Mariucci Arena will be no easy task but the Catamounts may have a chance this weekend if they limit the deadly Minnesota power play. The Gophers currently boast the top power play in the country, converting on almost 40% (9-23) of their chances. Vermont will need to stay out of the penalty box and have an aggressive penalty kill if they want upset the Maroon and Gold.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

GOPHERS:

-- F Zach Budish #24 – Redshirt sophomore Zach Budish hasn't been lighting the lamp like his linemates Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. That being said, the Edina native is poised for a big weekend. In Minnesota's four games this year, Budish has recorded one goal and two assists. After sitting out last season with a knee injury, Budish could find his rhythm against Vermont and showcase why he can be one of the Gophers' top forward threats.

CATAMOUNTS:

--F Sebastian Stalberg #8 – Stalberg, a 6-foot, 187-pound Sweden native, led the Catamounts last season with nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points. A dangerous scorer and passer, Stalberg will look to attack the young Gopher defense this weekend.


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