Don't look now, but there's actually good news hovering around the University of Minnesota Men's Hockey team this week.
After a string of unfortunate illnesses and injuries, Gopher coach Don Lucia stated in his weekly radio show Monday night that four players that had been out due to injury or illness would return to the lineup this weekend.
Most importantly, this weekend's slate of games against the Michigan Tech Huskies should be the first games back for Nick Bjugstad, who was forced out of the last five games with Mononucleosis. Bjugstad left as the center of the second line, but his return to that spot could be complicated with the emergence of Nate Condon, who has blossomed centering the number two line. Bjugstad struggled playing center on the second line in his five games, posting just one assist and playing fairly ineffectually on both sides of the ice. I would like to see him moved to the wing and have the second line feature Condon, Bjugstad and Jacob Cepis, but I have a feeling Coach Lucia will keep Bjugstad at center, forcing Condon down to the third line and Taylor Matson down to the fourth line.
Lucia also confirmed that Gophers Nick Larson, Patrick White and Jake Parenteau are all healthy and available to play this weekend. Larson was nursing an ankle injury suffered several weeks ago in practice. Expect him to play extended minutes this weekend, as Larson's penalty killing abilities were missed with him out. White had been suffering from the flu, but Coach Lucia stated that he should be back and healthy come the weekend. Parenteau is the real surprise here. He came down with mono just a week or two ago, but Lucia speculated that he may have had the disease before because his body was able to fight it off much more quickly than normal. So quickly that Parenteau is available to play this weekend.
Of course, Zach Budish is still out for the season with a torn ACL, but he will be able to apply for a medical redshirt so he should enter next season as a sophomore. Still, that is a big blow to a team that could have used the skills Budish brought to the table.
There is no television broadcast of the games this weekend, but an online stream can be found on Michigan Tech's website. The cost of the service is $12 for both of the games this weekend.