Weekend series preview: No. 11 CC at No. 4 Minnesota

January 19, 2012
photo - Colorado College center Rylan Schwartz ranks third nationally with an average of 0.89 goals. The Tigers travel to Minnesota this weekend attempting to break a 2-3-1 slide. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
Colorado College center Rylan Schwartz ranks third nationally with an average of 0.89 goals. The Tigers travel to Minnesota this weekend attempting to break a 2-3-1 slide. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE 

When: 6:07 p.m. Friday, 4:07 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis

TV: Friday’s game is on ROOT Sports, and Saturday’s game is on FSN North

Radio: 103.9 FM RXP, play-by-play by Ken Landau

The series: Minnesota holds a 160-84-7 edge in the series dating to 1947, having topped CC four times in a row, including twice at World Arena last season. The Gophers are 14-13-1 all-time at Mariucci, and they’ve beaten CC in seven of the past eight games there.

CC update: The No. 11 Tigers (13-8-1, 10-6 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) are in third place in the WCHA, four points behind No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 4 Minnesota and a point ahead of No. 15 Denver and Nebraska-Omaha. They’ve gone 2-3-1 since the holiday break, with a home split last weekend against St. Cloud State. There are five Minnesota natives on CC’s roster, and only 11 of 28 players have skated at 10,000-seat Mariucci. … C Rylan Schwartz ranks third nationally with an average of 0.89 goals. LW Jaden Schwartz has recorded a point in 15 of his 16 games. The second line of LW Alexander Krushelnyski, C Nick Dineen and RW Scott Winkler has combined for 56 points, and Dineen leads CC with four game-winning goals. D Mike Boivin has 21 points, including 15 assists. D Gabe Guentzel’s father, Mike, is a Minnesota assistant coach, and he served in that capacity at CC in the 2008-09 season. In goal, Josh Thorimbert (8-3 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage) is the favorite to start over Joe Howe (5-5-1 with a 3.51 GAA and a .879 save percentage) after getting the nod in seven of the past nine games. D Eamonn McDermott (left knee) will miss at least three more weeks. … The Tigers average 3.68 goals, the third-most in the country, and they allow 2.95 goals. They possess the nation’s sixth-best power play at 25 percent, but they own the fourth-worst penalty kill in the WCHA at 78.7 percent.

Minnesota update: The Gophers (16-8-1, 12-4) are coming off a road split at No. 17 North Dakota. Their 16 victories are tops in the country, and of their eight losses, seven have been by one goal. Of their 27 players, 17 are NHL draft picks. … The top line of LW Kyle Rau, C Nick Bjugstad and RW Zach Budish has 29 percent of the team’s points, with 19 goals by Bjugstad and 13 goals by Rau, the younger brother of former CC standout Chad Rau. C Erik Haula has 28 points, including 18 assists, and D Nate Schmidt paces Minnesota with 24 assists. LW Nate Condon has seven points in the past four games, and he has three short-handed goals. In goal, Kent Patterson (16-8-1 with a 2.12 GAA and a .918 save percentage) leads the country with six shutouts and 1,499 minutes played. RW Nick Larson underwent surgery Tuesday on a broken wrist that he suffered Saturday. … The Gophers have the nation’s second-highest scoring offense at four goals, they’re fourth in scoring defense at 2.12 goals, they’re eighth on the power play at 23.9 percent and their penalty kill clicks at 83.3 percent. They’re giving up only 25.9 shots, and they’ve tallied 11 goals in the final minute of periods. … Former CC coach Don Lucia is 306-167-54 in his 13th season at Minnesota, and he has 571 career wins.

CC coach Scott Owens on Minnesota: “They’re really good offensively. They have a good power play. … They’re kind of complete. I know they struggled a little bit there for a while. I don’t know why. But I think Saturday’s game probably helped them a lot.”

Contact Brian Gomez: 719-636-0256 or brian.gomez@gazette.com. Facebook: Brian Gomez. Twitter: @gazettehockey. Google+: Brian Gomez. Blog Talk Radio: The CC Hockey Show. YouTube: Colorado College Hockey, Covered by The Gazette. For the CC hockey homepage, visit www.gazette.com/sections/sports/cchockey. For the CC hockey blog, visit http://cchockey.freedomblogging.com.

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