Dodge Holiday Classic Preview

The Dodge Holiday Classic takes place Saturday and Sunday at Mariucci Arena. No. 8 ranked New Hampshire (10-5-2) takes on No. 14 Miami of Ohio (10-6-2) in the first game Saturday at 4:05 p.m., while Minnesota (7-8-1) faces Princeton (4-9) in the second game Saturday at 7: 05 p.m. Minnesota plays again Sunday at 7:05 p.m. regardless of the outcome of Saturday's contest. Here is everything you need to know about the tournament, from A to Z.

A – is for advantage, as in home ice advantage. The Gophers are going for their fifth consecutive Classic title and have reached the title game in 10 of 12 years.

B – is for Briggs, as in freshman goaltender Kellen Briggs, who is 4-1 in his last five games. He also has the first two shutout season since Adam Hauser posted three shutouts in 1998-99.

C – is for Classic, as in two teams in the Dodge Holiday Classic were in the 2003 NCAA Frozen Four: Minnesota and New Hampshire.

D – is for Don Lucia, as in Gophers coach Don Lucia is 15-1 in his career versus ECAC teams, Princeton's conference affiliation. Lucia is 9-19-3 against teams from Hockey East, where New Hampshire lurks, 5-4-1 at Minnesota.

E – is for Eric LaRoux of Princeton. The sophomore goalie has shouldered all netminding duties this season, posting a 3.32 Goals Against Average and .900 saves percentage.

F – is for Fox Sports Net, who will broadcast Sunday's Minnesota game. No other game in the tournament will be televised. The Gophers can be heard Saturday on KCCO 950 AM and Sunday on WCCO 830 AM.

G – is for gallery as in the shooting gallery the Gophers put on. The Gophers have outshot its opponents in 11 of 16 games this season and holds a 6-4-1 advantage in those games.

H – is for home bound, as in Minnesota sensation Thomas Vanek will miss the tournament this weekend as he represents his home country of Austria in the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finland.

I – is for in the close ones. Six of the Gophers' eight losses have come by two goals or less.

J – is for Jake Taylor, the freshman defender, at 6-4, 220 pounds, is among the biggest Gophers on the team.

K – is for kill, as in penalty kill. Minnesota saw its season-long penalty streak come to an end last week against Alaska Anchorage, a streak of 27 consecutive power plays against without giving up a goal.

L – is for lead, as in the Gophers are 6-3-1 in games where at some point they hold a two-goal lead.

M – is for Miami of Ohio. The Redhawks have won four straight and seven of eight, including a sweep of then No.6 Ohio State.

N - is for New Hampshire, who are not quite as hot as Miami, going winless in their last three games.

O – is for over, as in over the last five games, the Gophers are 4-1.

P – is for points. As in the leading point scorer for Minnesota not named Vanek and who will be with the team this weekend is Troy Riddle, who has 17 points on nine goals and eight assists.

Q – is for question, as in the question remains: Will the Gophers get their act together to make the NCAA's and make a run for its third-straight NCAA title? It starts this weekend.

R – is for Redhawks. Miami split games with Michigan and Michigan State and has three players in double digit points led by Derek Edwardson (11-15-26) and Mike Kompon (6-17-23).

S – is for Sensational, as in what NH goalie Mike Ayers was last season, when he was named Hockey East Co-Player of the Year and USA Hockey's College Player of the Year. Ayers is 7-5-2 this season with a 2.99 GAA.

T – is for Tallackson, as in Barry. The Gopher strongman has been on a scoring streak of late.

U – is for Sky-Uh-Mah - rah rah rah for Sky U Mah. Sing it Gophers fans.

V – is for Vanishing, as in the Gophers could vanish from postseason hopes real fast with a slow second half to the season. After the Classic the Gophers play Boston, Colorado College, MSU Mankato, North Dakota and Wisconsin in January.

W – is for WCHA, where the Gophers are 4-7-1, their worst start since the 1997-98, when the team went on to finish 12-16.

X – is for the X-factor on the weekend? Gino Guyer. Maybe it's a sophomore slump, but with Vanek gone, Gino needs to produce.

Y – is for Young. As in the second half of the season, the Gophers newcomers and underclassman will play key roles again. Thomas Vanek carried them last season, who will step up this year?

Z – is for zero, as in the number of times Princeton has won consecutive games this season. Cross them off of your tournament finals pairings bracket in the office pool.

Matt Krumrie covers Gophers Hockey for GoldenSports.Net. He can be reached at mattkrum@yahoo.com

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories