This weekend the Gophers square off against Michigan State and Michigan in the College Hockey Showcase, the traditional Thanksgiving-weekend "tournament" that pits historic hockey rivals Michigan and Michigan State against Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are rumors circulating that this year could very well be the last year of the Showcase, as Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has pulled UW from the showcase next year. While I'll be sad to see the showcase go, here's hoping what could be the last one goes Minnesota's way.
The Gophers will face off against Michigan State Friday night and will play Michigan Sunday afternoon (Gopher Football plays Iowa on Saturday, which explains the Friday-Sunday dates for hockey).
Michigan State is having a down year this year, carrying a 4-6-3 overall record and a 2-6-1 mark in the CCHA. They started off the season strong at 3-0-3 with three big points coming against now number 10 ranked Maine. However, the Spartans are reeling of late, having lost six of their last seven contests.
Michigan, however, is its usual solid self, currently sitting eighth in the polls after an 8-3-3 start including a split with Nebraska-Omaha. Red Berenson's team is always skilled and can always fly up and down the ice, so expect this game to be a shootout between the Gophers and the Wolverines.
The Gophers, of course, are riding a little momentum of their own, having swept Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI last weekend. One of the big mysteries is whether or not senior goaltender Alex Kangas will be between the pipes at all this weekend, as Kent Patterson has played surprisingly well in usurping the starting job from the perennial favorite Kangas. My money is on the goalies splitting duties this weekend, with Kangas getting the Michigan State game and Patterson between the pipes for the game against Michigan. I'll be at both games so I will be able to provide the recaps and insights that you've come to expect this weekend!