Gophers Hockey: Erik Haula "hopeful" to return for North Dakota series

University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia - Minnesota Athletics

According to Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, Haula is expected to miss a week or two with an "upper body" injury. The junior forward leads the Gophers and is fourth in the nation with 26 points.

Although the newly #1 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers are capable of scoring goals, they will have to do so without leading scorer and assistant captain Erik Haula for the next couple weeks.

According to University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, the Pori, Finland native will be out with an "upper body" injury against #2 Notre Dame and possibly longer.

"He's going to be out for maybe a week or two," Lucia told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Wednesday on Twin Cities sports radio station KFAN.

Losing him for that time means the Gophers will be without Haula's playmaking abilities while having to reshuffle a top-six that has worked well together this season.

Haula, who is fourth in the nation with 26 points (9G-17A) on the heels of a 14-game point streak, was injured in the third period of Sunday's 8-1 win over Boston College in the Mariucci Classic. During a power play to open the period, the junior forward, who had two assists earlier, skated over to the bench holding his hand after being slashed and headed straight for the locker room.

He did not return to the game nor was not on the ice with the rest of the Gophers to receive his Mariucci Classic All-Tournament team honor. While Lucia did not disclose the extent of the injury - speculated to be a finger - following the game, he was hopeful for a return date.

"I think right now we're hopeful he'll be back for the North Dakota weekend. It's going to be a hole for the next three games but the good thing is that it'll be short-term and not long-term for him."

Minnesota plays North Dakota January 18th and 19th. Between now and then they play the Fighting Irish on Tuesday, January 8th and host Alaska-Anchorage the following weekend.

For more University of Minnesota coverage, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also follow SB Nation College Hockey on Twitter @sbncollegepuck and like us on Facebook.

Follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.

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