MINNEAPOLIS – The top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team will begin Big Ten Conference play against border rival Wisconsin on October 26-27 at 3M Arena at Mariucci. A special pre-game ceremony will take place on Friday to honor the Golden Gophers’ 2022-23 Big Ten Championship with a banner unveiling. The games will be broadcasted live on Big Ten Network and streamed on the Fox Sports app at 8 p.m. with Dan Kelly and Ben Clymer commentating. Fans can also listen to the games on the Gopher Radio Network.
Minnesota has partnered with FOX 9 for local television broadcasts of 10 home games and four road games in the 2023-24 season. In addition, the Big Ten Network will broadcast 11 games, while one game will air on FS1. For the latest information on game schedules and viewing options, visit GopherSports.com.
Goaltender Justen Close was named the B1G First Star of the Week for his outstanding performance in a road win against No. 5 North Dakota. Close made 25 saves and achieved his second-straight shutout before his shutout streak was broken at 153:58 in the second period of the following game. He had a 1.01 goals-against average and a .966 save percentage, making 57 saves out of 59 shots faced. Close’s shutout on Friday was his 11th in his Gophers’ career, leaving him two away from the program record.
Jimmy Snuggerud was named the B1G First Star of the Week after an impressive performance in the Gophers’ opening weekend sweep of St. Thomas. Snuggerud scored four goals and provided one assist, including two game-winning goals. In the season opener, he recorded a three-point performance, marking his sixth three-point game in his career. Snuggerud currently leads the team with five goals and seven points.
The line of Brody Lamb centering Oliver Moore and Jimmy Snuggerud has been instrumental in the Gophers’ offensive success. They have combined for 19 points in four games, with all three players contributing at least one point in each of the first three contests. Lamb has scored four goals and recorded two assists, including his first career multi-goal game. Moore leads the team in assists with five and scored his first collegiate goal in a road win against North Dakota.
During the series against St. Thomas, five members of the Maroon and Gold made their college hockey debuts and contributed six points. Oliver Moore had four assists in his first game, while Sam Rinzel had two points in the opener. Jimmy Clark won 68 percent of his faceoffs, and Max Rud and Axel Begley combined to block four shots.
Minnesota has a perfect penalty kill through four games, joining four other NCAA men’s hockey teams. They have successfully killed off all 16 opponent power plays, with Augustana being the only team with more penalty kills without conceding a goal. The Gophers were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill against St. Thomas and denied North Dakota on all 10 of their power play opportunities.
Sophomore players have been crucial to Minnesota’s offensive production this season, accounting for 19 of the team’s 35 points. Six different players from the sophomore class have contributed points, with four players recording multiple points. All nine goals scored by the team have come from the duo of Brody Lamb and Jimmy Snuggerud, while Luke Mittelstadt and Cal Thomas have provided two assists each.
The Gophers were one of the least penalized teams in the NCAA last season, averaging just 7.5 penalty minutes per game. However, they have seen an increase in penalties recently, with a total of 10 penalties in the series against North Dakota. Despite this, they remain tied for 10th nationally in penalty minutes per game with an average of 8.5.
Minnesota is aiming to win its third consecutive regular season title, a feat that has only been achieved by the Gophers in the history of college hockey in the Big Ten Conference. They won championships in each of the first four years of league play between 2013 and 2017. After back-to-back titles, the Gophers were picked to finish first in the conference standings in the preseason poll.
The Gophers have a strong history against Wisconsin, holding a 183-101-24 record in the all-time series. They have won three out of four meetings against Wisconsin in the previous season and have been victorious in seven of the last nine matchups over the past three years. In the season series last year, eleven different players scored a goal, with Jimmy Snuggerud leading all skaters with seven points.
Under new head coach Mike Hastings, the Wisconsin Badgers have started the season strong with a 5-1-0 record. They recently swept No. 17 Michigan Tech on the road and have climbed in the national polls. Mathieu De St. Phalle leads the Badgers’ offense with seven points, and a total of 17 players have contributed points. Kyle McClellan has been solid in goal with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.
Thirteen players on Minnesota’s roster have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft since 2019. The Gophers hold the record for the most draft selections by any NCAA men’s hockey program, with a total of 239. Boston College and Boston University are the only teams with more draft picks on their NCAA rosters for the 2023-24 season than Minnesota.