Minnesota returns home following a 3-2 road trip that currently leaves them in fourth place in the WCHA. After splitting against Wisconsin - the Gophers won 3-2 Friday night before losing outdoors in Chicago against the Badgers by that same score - they face Minnesota-Duluth for the first time at Mariucci Arena since December 2010.
Fortunately for Minnesota, their 8-0 non-conference record has them in prime position for the Pairwise rankings (they are second behind Quinnipiac) regardless of their WCHA record. At the same time this weekend presents a chance to get four points for only the second time this season in league play and cut the three-point distance between St. Cloud State and themselves.
The Bulldogs, who are two seasons removed from their first national championship, have struggled at times this season and have not won a regular season game since January 18. They are led by senior Mike Seidel and a trio of freshman in Austin Farley, Tony Cameransesi (Toronto Maple Leafs) and defenseman Andy Welinski (Anaheim Mighty Ducks).
Don Lucia's squad will be without Seth Ambroz (Columbus Blue Jackets) this weekend due to an undisclosed injury suffered on Sunday. In his place is A.J. Michaelson. The freshman forward makes his first start since January 12th against Alaska-Anchorage. The only other change for the Gophers is reuniting Zach Budish (Nashville Predators) on the first line with Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers) and Nick Bjugstad (Panthers).
Adam Wilcox is expected to start for Minnesota in goal with Matt McNeely doing the same for Minnesota-Duluth.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Kyle Rau (#7) - Nick Bjugstad (#27) - Zach Budish (#24)
Sam Warning (#11) - Erik Haula (#19) - Nate Condon (#16)
Tom Serratore (#14) - Travis Boyd (#22)
Seth Helgeson (#4) - Ben Marshall (#10)
Brady Skjei (#2) - Nate Schmidt (#29)
Jake Parenteau (#6)
Adam Wilcox (#32)
Michael Shibrowski (#1)
Ryan Coyne (#31)
University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Mike Seidel (#17) - Caleb Herbert (#21) - Justin Crandall (#25)
Austin Farley (#11) - Tony Cameranesi (#13) - Joe Basaraba (#18)
Cody Danberg (#20) - Jake Hendrickson (#15) - Keegan Flaherty (#14)
Dan DeLisle (#10) - Cal Decowski (#27) - Adam Krause (#26)
Drew Olson (#8) - Andy Welinski (#7)
Tim Smith (#16) - Chris Casto (#5)
Derik Johnson (#6) - Wade Bergman (#28)
Matt McNeely (#36)
Alex Fons (#30)
Tonight's game begins at 7:00 p.m. CT and airs on Fox Sports North Plus. For a listing of FSN+ stations on cable and satellite, find your carrier here.
Follow Nate on Twitter for live updates from Mariucci Arena @gopherstate.