WHO: Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-8-4, 4-3-3-0 Big Ten) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-6-1, 5-4-0-0 Big Ten).
WHERE: Charles W. “Lefty” Smith Rink (5,022) at Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday evenings, 7 p.m.
TV: Friday, NBC Sports Network; Saturday, SNY.
RADIO: WZOC-FM (94.3).
RANKINGS: Notre Dame, 8-2 over last 10 games, is ranked No. 9 in USCHO.com (media) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine (coaches) polls and No. 7 in USCHO.com Pairwise Rankings which duplicate NCAA Selection Committee tournament rankings. … Minnesota, 5-3-3 in last 11, is No. 26 in USCHO.com Pairwise Rankings.
RIVALRY: Teams have met 48 previous times with Golden Gophers holding 27-18 edge. … Irish won three of four a season ago: 1-0 and 5-2 in South Bend Nov. 24-25 and 4-1 in Minneapolis Jan. 27 night after 1-0 overtime loss.
ICE CHIPS: Junior forward Rem Pitlick leads Minnesota in goals (9) followed by senior Brent Gates Jr. (8), senior Tyler Sheehy (6) and sophomore Brannon McManus (6) … Senior Jack Sadek and sophomore Clayton Phillips anchor defense in front of junior goalie Max Robson (5-4-4 record, .924 saves percentage, 2.59 goals-against average). … Gophers average 2.79 goals per game and allow 2.63. … Bob Motzko, 276-190-49 in 13 seasons at alma mater St. Cloud State, is in first season after succeeding Notre Dame alumnus Don Lucia, who earned two NCAA titles in 2003 and 2004 with Motzko as assistant. … Junior Cal Burke leads Notre Dame in goals (9) followed by junior Cam Morrison (7), senior Dylan Malmquist (6), sophomore Colin Theisen (6) and freshman Alex Steeves (6). … Senior Joe Wegwerth, who had seven goals, will miss rest of season after Thursday knee surgery to repair torn ACL. … Senior Bobby Nardella (5g-13a-18p) and junior captain Andrew Peeke (2-11-13) lead defense. … Goalies are junior Cale Morris (9-6-1, .931 saves percentage, 2.19 goals-against average, two shutouts) and sophomore Dylan St. Cyr (3-0-0, .935 saves percentage, 2.03 goals-against average, one shutout). … Irish average 3.16 goals and allow 2.21 per game. … Jeff Jackson is 308-183-55 in 14th season at Notre Dame and 490-235-80 in 20 seasons overall with two NCAA titles at Lake Superior State (1992, 1994).
QUOTING JACKSON: (On Golden Gophers under Motzko): “I think their structure is better defensively, especially in the neutral zone. … They are very much like Duluth, too, as far as their neutral-zone defense and that’s where we’ve had some issues in the past. And they’ve got good offensive depth; they’ve got four good lines. I think they are a team on the rise.”
– John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent