Minnesota's injury ward is taking one step forward and two steps backward.
Freshman forward Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders draft pick), who missed both games against Wisconsin last weekend, is expected to return this weekend against Michigan State for the team's first-ever Big Ten road series. The Gophers, however, will be without both physical senior forward Tom Serratore and freshman forward Vinni Lettieri.
Head coach Don Lucia said Wednesday that neither are expected to make the trip to East Lansing.
Lettieri suffered an undisclosed injury. The Excelsior, MN native has 2 points (1 G - 1 A) for Minnesota (11-2-1, 2-0-0-0 Big Ten) this season. He played in both games against Wisconsin, but was banged up in the process.
"I don't think he's in a position to play this weekend, but could probably play next weekend if we were playing," Lucia said to reporters.
Serratore, meanwhile, is out against Michigan State (5-7-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) with a lower-body injury suffered midway through practice Tuesday. He underwent an MRI Wednesday to determine the severity of a sprain, Lucia said.
The senior has been part of a line with Seth Ambroz (Columbus Blue Jackets), who scored four goals last weekend, and Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals) that has been Minnesota's most productive recently. That includes Serratore. He scored both of his goals this season since the three were reunited during the third period of the Gophers' November 16 game against Minnesota State.
"We can't dwell on Tommy being out," Ambroz said. "Hopefully he'll be back at the end of the (month-long) break."
Lucia is hopeful that the 24 year-old will be back for Minnesota's next game January 3rd against Colgate.
He should get back Cammarata, though. The 18 year-old has practiced without restrictions all week and should be able to make an impact against the Spartans after missing two games with a lower body injury.
Redshirt freshman Connor Reilly stepped up, scoring a goal Friday in Cammarata's place. With Serratore and Lettieri not making the trip, Lucia stated the team will lean on its depth. A forward that normally sits out one or both nights could see time.
"When somebody goes down, it's an opportunity for someone else," Minnesota's head coach said.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate