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Pride on Ice Preview: Gophers Head to Madison for Border Battle

02/09/2018, 12:00pm CST
By Grant Erickson and Travis Erickson

No. 12/9 Minnesota (16-13-1 overall, 7-10-1-1 B1G) vs No. 17 Wisconsin (14-13-4 overall, 8-9-3-1 B1G)

Date: Friday, Feb. 9, 2018
Location: Kohl Center | Madison, Wis.
Puck Drop: 8:00 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
Stream: BTN2Go
Radio: 1130 KTLK AM | 103.5 FM | Listen Online

Date: Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018
Location: Kohl Center | Madison, Wis.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: FOX Sports North PLUS
Stream: BTN2Go | FOX Sports Go | TSNGo
Radio: 1130 KTLK AM | 103.5 FM | Listen Online

INSIDE THE MATCHUP
Sitting tied for 9th in the Pairwise rankings, the Gophers are surprisingly in a good spot to make the NCAA Tournament, but need a strong close to the season. That starts this weekend as the Maroon and Gold travel east to take on Wisconsin.

Saturday’s game marks a momentous occasion for the Gophers: their 3000th game played. Dating back 97 years, the Gophers are 1794-1015-189. Pretty impressive.

Each and every border battle series, it’s fun to write about Minnesota’s all-time record against the Badgers. It stands at a not-even-close 167-93-23 mark all-time. Even when playing in Wisconsin the Gophers hold 69-54-14 advantage. Rah!

The longtime rivals split the earlier series at Mariucci, 5-4 for the Gophers and 3-2 for Wisconsin.

Following a slow start to the season, first round NHL draft pick Trent Frederic has found his stride. Last weekend, the sophomore posted six points against Michigan and earned the Big Ten Second Star of the week. With goals in six of his last seven games, Frederic is up to 27 points on the year, including a team-leading 14 goals.

An important note for the series; Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato won’t be behind the bench for the home team. Instead, he’s leading the Olympic men’s hockey team in PyeongChang.

STORYLINE CENTRAL
Eric Vegoe with the Athletic has an unlocked story about the Gophers struggles on the ice, as well as the dismal attendance numbers. The attendance portion is fascinating with scanned ticketed attendance this season at just 6100 on average compared to 7800 in 2014-15.

Todd Milewski with the Wisconsin State Journal looks at how Wisconsin’s big guns are peaking at the right time.

QUOTES
Don Lucia
On what he sees from Wisconsin:
“Balance. I think you look at their group of forwards, I think they have 30 more goals than we have, as a group so far this year. I think that’s a strength of their team is they don’t really have to rely on one guy. They have four or five guys with multiple 10-plus goals. Last number four or five games, their getting four or five [goals] a night. Obviously, the way we score, we’re not going to win games going to Madison giving up four or five goals. You go on the road, our score might have to be 2-1 or 3-2.”

Mike Szmatula
On what this series means as a rivalry:
“The rivalry is obviously huge. It’s goes back to when we started playing each other, there’s always that extra to want to beat them and [Madison] is a hard place to play. These two games are huge for us not just for the Big Ten but Pairwise, as well. Like we said, it’s playoff games from here on out.”

Tommy Novak
On the rivalry:
“Just the tradition of it. Basically, everybody knows it’s kind of a border battle. People really look forward to this all year, especially the fans. That’s what really makes it what it is. Think we’re going to go into a pretty full barn so it should be a lot of fun for us.”

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Tag(s): Gopher Football