GOPHERS MEN'S HOCKEY SERIES PREVIEW
Road series at Michigan, 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday
TV, radio: BTN+ (streaming, requires subscription); 1130-AM, 103.5-FM
Rachel Blount's preview:
Opening bell: For the fourth week in a row, the No. 6 Gophers (4-3-1, 0-2 Big Ten) face a top-15 opponent. Their first Big Ten road series of the season comes in a place where they've played well; the Gophers are 7-1-2 at Yost Ice Arena over the past five years. No. 8 Michigan (5-4-1, 1-2-1) tumbled four spots in the national rankings after being swept at Wisconsin last week. The Wolverines lead the nation in scoring with five goals per game but rank 31st in team defense.
Watch him: Gophers forward Rhett Pitlick scored his first goal of the season in last Friday's victory over Minnesota Duluth, highlighting a four-point weekend that made him the Big Ten's second star of the week. Coach Bob Motzko expects the goal to take some pressure off the speedy winger, which could help him build on a three-game point streak.
Forecast: Five of the nation's top 10 scorers wear the maize and blue, powering a Michigan offense that boasts the top-ranked power play in Division I (37.8%). But the Wolverines are 0-4-1 when scoring fewer than five goals, making the Gophers' mission clear. They will earn their first Big Ten points of the season if they can throttle back the Wolverines' attack, get a strong game from goalie Justen Close and stay out of the penalty box.
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