U men’s hockey series preview
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday vs. Michigan • 3M Arena at Mariucci
TV; radio: FSN Plus both nights; 1130-AM, 103.5-FM
U hoping to improve home-ice playoff chances
Preview: With the fourth-place Gophers trailing league-leader Notre Dame by 22 points in the Big Ten standings, Minnesota (13-10-1, 4-7-1-1 Big Ten) is just trying to make sure it secures a home-ice spot in the conference quarterfinals (the top seed will have a bye, the next three seeds will host series). A couple of victories over sixth-place Michigan (8-10-2, 3-7-2-1) would help. But to do so, the Gophers must exorcise the demons of their October visit to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines overcame a three-goal deficit to win the opener 5-4 in overtime, then erased a four-goal deficit in a 6-6 tie in the finale. Minnesota won the shootout for the extra point in the conference standings in Game 2.
Players to watch: Gophers captain Tyler Sheehy has feasted on Michigan, with seven goals and seven assists in 11 career games. In the October series, Sheehy had two goals and four assists. Forward Mike Szmatula has goals in three consecutive games and points in four in a row. … Michigan’s “DMC” line of Dexter Dancs (five goals, 11 assists, 16 points), Cooper Marody (7-22—29) and Tony Calderone (15-9—24) has combined for 69 points. The line had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the October series.
By the numbers: The Gophers are in an 0-for-27 drought on the power play and are converting only 12.9 percent of their chances, which ranks 54th nationally. Might they break the seal against the Wolverines, who rank 58th on the penalty kill (74.7 percent)?