The newest addition to the WCHA may continue the Gophers' woes as they attempt to continue a very tough opening schedule this weekend.
The Gophers open a weekend series versus the 7th ranked Bemidji State Beavers tonight. Bemidji, who is joining the WCHA next season, is tearing up its final year in the CHA, posting a 7-0-1 record through eight games to make them the only remaining undefeated team in college hockey. Although they have not played much serious competition (their opponents are a combined 13-22-2 overall) they haven't lost yet, and you can only beat the team that is suited up on the opposite bench every night.
This weekend's series should be a good test for both teams. While I do think Bemidji is a pretty good team, I'm not sure they can compete week in and week out at the level they have been playing against top teams in the WCHA like Minnesota and North Dakota. This also should be a good test for the Gophers, who haven't won many games but have played top competition. We should see which team can win and which team maybe is just overachieving.
This week also saw a bevy of rumors about players leaving the team. First came the rumor - and eventual departure - of sophomore defenseman Sam Lofquist. Just a day later, rumors on the internet swirled over sophomore forward Jordan Schroeder leaving the team to go to the NHL's Vancouver Canuck system. In a rare response to message board rumors, the University of Minnesota issued a press release stating that Schroeder would stay at the U and that he was fully committed to the team. While I don't fully buy that excuse, it's nice to see the U attempt to quash that rumor right away.
I see the Gophers getting at least 3 points this season. I'll go for a 3-3 tie on Saturday night and a 5-1 Gopher win on Sunday, although I wouldn't be all that surprised if the Gophers get a sweep or if Bemidji wins a game and the two teams split.