Let me help build the hype a bit more.
Gather your friends and family and get to Mariucci next Saturday at 7PM for what could end up one of the best games in modern Big Ten hockey. The back-to-back regular season champion Gophers will look to get revenge on the reigning conference tournament champion Wolverines. Both schools have won the conference tournament twice, with no school having won it three times. Last year's championship at Mariucci saw an arena record 10,744 paid attendance, with an incredible 10,252 tickets scanned.
Want some fun facts about what could make this the game of the year?
- It will be #1 vs #4 in the polls, including the Pairwise, which means these two will not meet in the national championship if they both advance.
- It will see the best player in college hockey and IMO the likely Hobey Baker winner, 60 point superstar Adam Fantilli (27+33 in just 32 games) against the best forward line in college hockey and one of the best in Gopher history: Knies (21-19-40) - Cooley (18-32-50) - Snuggerud (20-28-48)
- Michigan is stacked, with the best top 6 and top 9 forward units in the country.
- Cooley became just the 8th Gopher freshman to hit 50 points. Snuggerud will look to join him asap. Cooley will look to join Snuggerud and become the 15th freshman to hit 20 goals.
- The best defenseman in college hockey and reigning Big Ten D-man of the year, Brock Faber, leads the best D unit in the country against the best offensive defenseman and reigning Big Ten Rookie of the Year, Luke Hughes. Hughes and Jackson Lacombe are both second-team All American recipients.
- Between the pipes, last year's Big Ten tournament MVP and net-knocking-off aficionado Erik Portillo goes up against the quietly steady Justen Close. In just about 1.5 seasons as a starter, Close currently holds the best save percentage and GAA in Gopher history (.925 and 2.02) and is tied for 4th in shutouts (9) in that limited time.
- NHL fan? This is your game. At least half of the first round picks playing college hockey this year will be on display. 5 or 6 for the Wolverines (depending on Brindley's draft spot) and 3 for the Gophers. There were a max of 15 first rounders in college hockey this year.
- Only like top of the board picks? You'll get likely #2 Fantilli (because of Bedard), #3 Cooley, and #4 Hughes.
- Only Harvard has more draft picks than these two with 15. Gophers have 14 and Michigan has 12, plus Brindley and Fantilli.
- Like goals? Minnesota is first in the nation in goals per game (4.114) and Michigan is second (4.108)
- Special teams? Minnesota 7th in PP (25.0%) and 14th in PK (83.0%). Michigan 15th in PP (22.3%) and 50th in PK (77.4%)
- Discipline or lack thereof? Michigan leads the nation with 17.6 PIM/game, Minnesota is third best with just 7.7 PIM/game.
- Not a fan of the Mankato model of recruiting? Two youngest teams in college hockey. Michigan 21.0 avg and Minnesota 21.1.
- Full strength teams? Both teams are mostly healthy. UMN hopes to get Jackson Lacombe back, while UM has been missing Jacob Truscott who scored the OT winner at Mariucci on Jan. 21 and hasn't played since.
Recent results? Very even.
1/21/23: Gophers 5-4 in OT at Mariucci
1/20/23: Wolverines 4-3 in OT at Mariucci
11/18/22: Gophers 6-3 at Yost (Michigan missing top players)
11/17/22: Gophers 5-2 at Yost (Michigan missing top players)
3/19/22: Wolverines 4-3 at Mariucci
1/22/22: Wolverines 4-1 at Mariucci
1/21/22: Gophers 2-1 in OT at Mariucci
12/4/21: Wolverines 6-2 at Yost
12/3/21: Gophers 5-1 at Yost
3/15/21: Gophers 3-2 in OT at Notre Dame in Covid Big Ten Tournament
Last 5 on 5 win for the Gophers at Mariucci? 3/6/2021 by a 4-2 score
I could go on and on. Can you tell I'm a little pumped?
Get your tickets here:
Online Ticket Office
If you can't make it, the game will be on BTN.