Minnesota (9-10-1) vs. Harvard (2-8-2)
Date: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 8-9
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Mariucci Arena (10,000)
Series History: Minnesota leads 20-6-0
Radio: WCCO830 AM -Fri. / KNOF95.3 FM- Sat. - Wally Shaver and Glen Sonmor
Television: Fox Sports North (tape on Sat.) - Frank Mazzocco and Doug Woog
Minnesota and Harvard meet for the first time in over 10 years when the Crimson visit Mariucci Arena for a two-game non-conference series. The Gophers enter the weekend having won four of their last five games, though they suffered a 4-2 loss in their most recent outing against Northern Michigan. This weekend's games mark Minnesota's final non-conference games of the season.
Last Time Out
Despite a season-high 50 shots on goal, the Gophers lost to Northern Michigan 4-2 in the title game of the DodgeHoliday Classic last weekend, snapping their four-game winning streak. Minnesota owned a 50-23 advantage in shots, but Wildcats' goaltender Brian Schwartz made 48 saves. Mike Hoeffel and Jacob Cepis each had goals for the Gophers. Hoeffel also had the game-winning goal with 2:50 left in the third period of a 3-1 win over Bowling Green in the first round.
Minnesota leads the all-time series 20-6, including a 12-2 advantage over the last 14 meetings. Both of Harvard's wins during that span came in Frozen Fours in 1989 and 1983 as the teams have played five times in the Frozen Four. TheGophers and Crimson are playing for the first time sinceDec. 29, 1999 when the Gophers posted a 5-2 win in the DodgeHoliday Classic. Minnesota has only played Harvard in Boston twice, coming in 1963 and 1932 at the Boston Garden.
About the Crimson
Harvard snapped a 10-game winless streak with a 3-1 win over nationally-ranked Quinnipiac on Dec. 29 in its first game following the holiday break. The Crimson beat Dartmouth to open the year and picked up its second win last week. Junior Kyle Richter made 36 saves in the victory and leads the team with a 3.55 goals against average and .900 save percentage for the season. The Crimson are playing their first road game since Nov. 14 after playing seven straight home games. Four of their eight losses are by one goal. Junior Michael Biega leads the team in scoring with four goals and eight assists for 12 points. Freshman Conor Morrison is the top goal-scorer with six goals for the season. Harvard ranks 54th of 58 teams nationally in scoring defense, allowing 3.92 goals per game. The Crimson have also allowed 14 power play goals in 56 chances for a 25.0 opponents power play percentage.
Hoeffel Heating Up
Junior forward Mike Hoeffel brings a four-game scoring streak into the weekend and had a goal in each game of the Dodge Holiday Classic. Hoeffel also added an assist against Bowling Green to earn all-tournament honors. Hoeffel leads the team with 10 goals and 15 points for the season. He has six points over the past four games, including two power play goals.
The Gophers put 50 shots on goal in their loss to Northern Michigan, marking the first time they've had 50 shots in defeat since putting 51 shots on goal in an 8-7 overtime loss to St. Cloud State on March 17, 2006.
Minnesota has outshot nine of its last 12 opponents and is averaging 34.1 shots on goal during that span. In the Gophers' first eight games of the season, they outshot just two opponents and averaged 26.5 shots on goal per game. Defensively they've also improved, allowing 33.9 shots over the first eight games and 27.9 shots during the past 12 contests. The Gophers have held their opponents to 25 shots or fewer in five straight games.
Junior forward Jacob Cepis had a solid debut weekend for the Gophers while playing his first career game against his former team. He transferred from Bowling Green at semester break last season and put a team-high six shots on goal against the Falcons. Cepis scored his first goal against Northern Michigan the following night while putting four shots on net.
Sophomore forward Jordan Schroeder helped the United States win a gold medal and became the Americans' all-time leading scorer in the World Junior Hockey Championships with three goals and five assists in the recent tournament in Canada. He played in three World Junior tournaments and surpassed Jeremy Roenick as the U.S. career scoring leader with 27 points. Schroeder was already the all-time assists leader and now has 20 for his career, which is six more than previous record-holder Doug Weight and third all-time among players from all countries. He is the first Gopher to win a World Juniors gold medal. Schroeder missed last week's Dodge Classic, but will play this weekend.
Minnesota's recent four-game winning streak was its longest since a memorable four-game streak from March 15-21, 2008 that resulted in a run to the WCHA Final Five championship game. The Gophers won three of those games in 2008 in overtime and another on a goal with 13 seconds left in regulation.
The Gophers' current four-game road winning streak is their longest since winning five straight from Jan. 13-Feb. 17, 2007 when they beat Wisconsin and swept consecutive series at Alaska Anchorage and Colorado College. In fact, the Gophers had won back-to-back road games just twice since that streak with one of those being the consecutive WCHA playoff wins at Minnesota State in 2008.
Minnesota trailed Bowling Green 1-0 through two periods before rallying for its first win this season when trailing after two periods. The Gophers' only victory last year when trailing after two periods was also in the Dodge Holiday Classic against Northeastern. Minnesota is now 1-7 this year when behind at the second intermission.
Strength of Schedule
Minnesota played 11 of its first 14 games this season against teams in this week's national rankings. The Gophers played six different nationally-ranked squads. Following this week's series, they will see four straight games against ranked foes when they take on North Dakota and St. Cloud State the next two weekends.
Saturday Night Fever
Saturdays have been the Gophers' best night of the week as they have a 6-2-1 record, while posting a 3-8 mark on Fridays and Sundays. Minnesota has outscored its opponents 32-19 on Saturdays and been outscored 37-18 on the other days of the week.